I do volunteer work at Allexperts.com. Sometimes I get kooky questions. Other times I get really boring questions. One time someone down in the States threatened me physically because s/he didn’t like my suggestion that s/he seek counseling. The threat only reinforced my impression that s/he could benefit from professional help.
Being a volunteer isn’t always easy. I disabled the ratings feature at Allexperts because I’m not doing it to be at the top of the heap, or anything like that. Instead, I find it’s a wonderful way to contribute.
Volunteering also keeps me on top of things. If anyone has ever tried to teach they’ll know that teaching is the best way to learn. People ask questions on all sorts of topics, some I’m only vaguely familiar with. But I’m usually confident enough in my research abilities to get to the heart of the matter and offer something of value.
After all, a lot of the ideas found in religion, mysticism, and parapsychology are interrelated. If you know something about “A” “B” and “C”, chances are you can muster up something intelligent to say about “D”, even if it’s a relatively new facet of the same old recurring themes. And if a question is just too far out of my area of expertise, Allexperts gives the option to decline. So it’s all good.
The other day I got a question on the relation between mental illness and religion. I actually wrote an essay about this in a required Ph.D. seminar on “methodology” in the department of Religious Studies, University of Ottawa. Back then I tried to apply postmodern insights about deconstruction to some of the truth claims forwarded by mystics and psychiatrists, alike.
So that’s the background to this recent question/answer at Allexperts.com. The questioner is asking about religions and the idea of schizophrenia. I can’t reproduce my answer here for copyright reasons, but I checked with Allexperts.com and they are totally okay with my linking to published answers at their site: