Is BPS (bio-psycho-social) a religion?

Blog entry posted by trishrhymes, Jan 17, 2017.

Edit: This is in no way meant to offend anyone of any religious belief or any religious organisation. I am a member of one myself. It is an attempt to use metaphor as a way of looking at the worst of the BPS 'religion' and draw parallels with the worst features of some religions. If you are sensitive about your religion, maybe don't read on...


Is BPS a religion, I ask myself.

Here's how I answer myself:

It has a god (SW) who is worshipped and placated by the powerful by being heaped with honours - knighthood, Regius Professorship, Presidency of Royal Colleges of Psychiatry and Medicine...

It has high priests who devote their lives to proselytising and acting out its beliefs (PW, MS, TC, EC, RMM, to name just a few...)

It has lower level acolytes, many of them young, naive and female, trained to carry out its practices without question (psychologists, OT's, nurses, physios).

It produces religious texts (PACE and other papers) that are treated as holy. Anyone who questions them being treated as blasphemers (vexatious, harassment). It (falsely) accuses its opponents of personal threats to its high priests and looks to the state to defend them.

It sends missionaries to other countries to spread the word.

It uses brainwashing techniques (CBT) to try to gain converts.

It claims that if others believe and use its practices, they will gain health and happiness.

It blames unbelievers (us) for their ill fate and tells them they have false beliefs.

It's beliefs are often antithetical to science, and its arguments against science are belief based, not based on rationality or evidence. It claims its 'knowledge', ie its belief system, is the true science.

It makes un-provable and unproven claims of healing the sick. It uses as evidence personal experience and individual reports of miracles, rather than anything that can be physically measured.

It makes sure it gathers and reports on 'cures' before the brainwashing has had time to wear off, and fails to follow up to see whether the effect lasts. If it doesn't work or doesn't last, it blames the sufferer, saying they haven't tried hard enough to follow the true faith.

It uses its influence to gain the ear of government, so it can get protection from criticism and higher status and positions of power and influence for its priests.

Governments are keen to adopt it as a state religion so it can use the priests and acolytes to subdue and control the population and brainwash them into conforming to its controls. It had a belief system which gives governments the excuse to oppress the sick, and deprive them of aid 'for their own good'.

It adopts practices from other religions and incorporates them into its religious practices, (for example taking mindfulness meditation from Buddhism and yoga and breathing practices from Hinduism), distorting and taking them out of context to be used as a control technique for its own ends, and to add a sense of mystique.

It runs its own publishing houses to print its religious texts (psychology journals), with editorial decisions based on their own religious beliefs, and texts validated by its own supporters.

It gathers new recruits (patients) into small groups, run by the acolytes, to foster group pressure to conform to the practices, with converts being encouraged to share their miraculous experiences, while discouraging negative feedback and dissent. It uses acolytes with a 'caring' style, 'love bombing' the weak to convert them.

It has small sects (LP), within the religion who develop their own, often secretive rituals which involve not only brainwashing, but persuading converts that they will only be saved if they follow the practices, believe what they are told, and keep its secrets.

It holds religious ceremonies (conferences, media briefings with refreshments) and invites the media to help spread the word, making sure it uses biased PR experts to get its message across (SMC).

I rest my case.

Have fun adding to the list.
MEMum, Barry53, SueJohnPat and 8 others like this.
  1. MEMum
    I think of it more as a cult, than a religion.
    trishrhymes likes this.
  2. Barry53
    Like a great many things in human endeavour, there is always the potential for use and abuse. Certainly true for religion. For BPS maybe it has its place (not sure), but in the context of ME/CFS the characters involved seem to have taken abuse to a whole new level. Personal gain over altruism.
  3. Mohawk1995
    Before I respond, I will make the disclosure that I am a HealthCare Professional (Physical Therapist) that has a son who has battled this disease for several years. I am a firm believer that ME is a real and very devastating illness for many.

    Being a Health Care Professional, I have had exposure to the concept of the BPS model and my personal opinion is that it has many merits, but is incomplete (as are basically all models because we as humans are so complex). I prefer to use a (and maybe I have coined the term) Bio-psycho-social-neurophysiological model. The reason why adding Neurophysiiology to the model is important is because of the dominance our Nervous system and especially our Brain has in all that occurs in our body. It is also extremely important to note that Conscious Thought (CBT) only uses 10% or so of the Brains Resources according to the latest Neuroscience Research. That means that a minimum 80% and more likely 90% of our "mind" is not within our ability to "control". Many who espouse to the BPS model believe that the Conscious Brain is more powerful than it really is and therefore have focused treatment solely on creating different thinking. I will say that with the 10% you control you can influence the other 90%, but you simply cannot mandate changes in the subconscious brain. For example a person cannot tell themselves to not have pain, stop a seizure or reverse an anaphylactic reaction. The other factor is that the Brain is immensely complex beyond what we will ever be able to comprehend. There are something like 11 billion messenger cells (Neurons and Glial) that have multiple connections. So you cannot reduce it to some simple explanation. It controls, regulates and protects every part and every function in the body.

    As for BPS being a religion. I am not particularly fond of religion. I am partial to faith and relationships, neither of which can be explained through science.
  4. Cheesus
    Media briefings... with refreshments!
    trishrhymes likes this.
  5. Dx Revision Watch
    And behold, they gathered to worship their god. (Sharpe back row, 2nd left; PDW back row, 5th left; Findley, IMMSMW, front row, grey sweater, next to their leader sporting ceremonial garb).

    https://dxrevisionwatch.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/sw-and-pals.jpg

    Edit: Not Findley but Prof Tony Pinching, I am informed.
    Countrygirl and trishrhymes like this.
  6. chipmunk1
    Another question:
    Is the BPS model sane?
    Hard to believe. So it must be insane.
    references:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18062101
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19250988
    trishrhymes likes this.
  7. alkt
    the garnering of wealth and power through ideology is nothing new . but are all the people supposedly guarding the welfare of the sick so incredibly stupid as to take this nonsense without any kind of rebuttal.
    MEMum, TiredSam and trishrhymes like this.
  8. TiredSam
    The BPS model appeals to people who are looking for a belief system where they get to be right all the time, preferably without having to do any real work or think.
  9. A.B.
    Religion seems to start with the belief that one has insight into mysterious supernatural forces. Psychosomatic explanations seem to start with the belief that one has insight into a mysterious entity called the psyche.

    Even astrology can be studied "scientifically" in the sense that one can keep detailed records of planetary positions and life events and try to find correlations, even succeeding in some cases (there has to be some seasonal variations in certain life events) but in the end there is no way to demonstrate that it's actually the planets that are causing this.