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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: March 08, 2011 07:48PM

--JOSEPH SMITH: CRAZY AS A LATTER-DAY JAY BIRD--


Mormonism's founding flake was--to put it bluntly--a walking, talking testament to mental illness whose personal psychological issues, combined with his genetic pre-disposition to brain disorder, produced a dingbat with a head in a hat who manifested classic signs of being deranged, strange and unarranged.

To put it mildly, the evidence seems--(how best to put it?)--overwhelming, as noted in the examinations below.
_____


--Woo-Woo Unto You: Mormonism's Over-Sexed, Polygamous, Hallucinating, Moody, Manic-Depressive Prophet--

Quoting from Jerald and Sandra Tanner's analysis, "Joseph Smith Mentally Ill?":

"Dr. Lawrence Foster [hypothesized in a 1993 'Dialogue' article] . . . that Joseph Smith may have been mentally ill. . . . While it may be true that Foster did not use the specific words 'mentally ill . . . ,' he very strongly implied that Joseph Smith had a serious mental problem.

"Foster's hypothesis is that Smith suffered from manic-depression, which is certainly a form of mental illness. In his article . . . Foster wrote:

"'In no area were Joseph Smith's manic qualities more evident than in his efforts to introduce and practice polygamy during the last three years of his life. The point at which Joseph Smith began systematically to introduce polygamy to his closest associates has strong suggestions of mania. . . . his subsequent surge of activity with the sixteen or more women with whom he appears to have sustained sexual relations as plural wives . . . is even more suggestive of the hypersexuality that often accompanies manic periods.'"

("Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought," Winter, 1993, pages 4, 7, 9-13)
_____


"Quoting . . . from his article, Foster further explains his hypothesis that Smith's involvement in polygamy may, in fact, have been rooted in his manic depressive state:

"To place this issue into a larger context, let us return to the perspectives of William James . . . and realize that religious prophets, including Joseph Smith, are is some sense, at least initially, 'sick,' 'disturbed,' or 'abnormal.' . . .

"Why did Joseph Smith feel so preoccupied with introducing plural marriage among his followers . . . . Was there some hidden psychological key that could help make sense of this seemingly obsessive drive? . . .

"A variety of factors including . . . Joseph Smith's own strong sex drive all made plural marriage an idea with considerable power for the Mormon prophet . . . Was Smith, as some of his previously most loyal followers at the time asserted, losing touch with reality during his final months in Nauvoo?

"A compelling psychological approach to explaining this and other puzzling features of the Mormon prophet's behavior during this period was suggested to me by a Mormon psychiatrist, Dr. Jess Groesbeck. . . . gradually the explanatory power of the interpretation came to seem more and more compelling to me.

"Groesbeck argued that many aspects of Joseph Smith's behavior, especially during the last years of his life, appeared strikingly similar to behavior that psychiatrists associate with manic-depressive syndromes.

"Although one could understand that any individual under the pressures Joseph Smith faced might have experienced substantial mood swings, in the Mormon prophet's case those mood swings appear so severe that they may be clinically significant.

"Groesbeck also pointed out that there is substantial evidence that tendencies toward manic-depression tend to be inherited. Although many people are aware that one of Joseph Smith's brightest and most appealing sons, David Hyrum, tragically lapsed into insanity and spent the last years of his life in a mental institution, few realize at least six other male descendants of the Mormon prophet also have suffered from psychological disorders, including manic-depression. . . .

"According to Harold I. Kaplan and Benjamin J. Sadock's 'Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry': '. . . The increased activity often takes the form of sexual promiscuity, political involvement, and religious concern. . . . Delusions and hallucinations are not unusual. . . . It is quite common for the person to communicate with God and to have it revealed that he or she has a special purpose or mission. Patients frequently describe themselves as an 'organ' of God through whom God speaks to the world.'

"In the various forms of manic-depressive illness, the manic highs alternate in bipolar fashion with periods of depression. . . .

"How do descriptions of psychological mania square with Joseph Smith's actions during the last three years of his life[?] . . . To anyone who has worked closely with the records of the Mormon prophet's life during those final years, the parallels are striking. . . .

"Most obvious is the Mormon prophet's extraordinary expansiveness and grandiosity throughout this period. During the last year of his life . . . Smith served as mayor of Nauvoo and head of his own private army, became 'king' of his secret Kingdom of God . . . ran for president of the United States . . . and was the 'husband' in some sense of dozens of wives. . . .

"In no area were Joseph Smith's manic qualities more evident than in his efforts to introduce and practice polygamy during the last three years of his life. The point at which Joseph Smith began systematically to introduce polygamy to his closest associates has strong suggestions of mania. . . . his subsequent surge of activity with the sixteen or more women with whom he appears to have sustained sexual relations as plural wives (the full number may have been much greater) is even more suggestive of the hypersexuality that often accompanies manic periods."

"("Dialogue," pp. 4, 7, 9-13) . . .


"If the First Vision is viewed as an hallucination, and the revelation to establish polygamy as a natural result of manic-depression, then one can be more sympathetic with Joseph Smith's strange behavior. Under this hypothesis many things about Joseph Smith can be explained."
_____


--One Peepstone Short of a Full Hat: Fits of Uncontrolled Anger--

". . . Foster stated that [manic depression] could account for 'Joseph Smith's ferocious anger in . . . the last couple of years of his life.' It could also help explain why Smith became the 'head of his own private army, became 'king' of his secret Kingdom of God . . . [and] ran for president of the United States . . .

"Joseph Smith . . . was [certainly] prone to violence. While Mormon writer John J. Stewart claimed that . . . Smith was 'perhaps the most Christ-like man to live upon the earth since Jesus himself,' this conclusion is not supported by 'Joseph Smith's History': 'I am not so much a "Christian" as many suppose I am. When a man undertakes to ride me for a horse, I feel disposed to kick up and throw him off, and ride him.'

("History of the Church," vol. 5, p. 335)


"Unlike the gentle and soft spoken man portrayed in the Mormon film, 'Legacy,' Joseph Smith was without question a fighting prophet. He not only liked to wrestle and prove his strength, but he sometimes kicked people and struck them very hard. Historian D. Michael Quinn observed that Smith was a "church president who physically assaulted both Mormons and non-Mormons for insulting him . . .'

(Quinn, "The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power," 1994, pp. 261-262)


"Jedediah M. Grant, a member of the First Presidency under Brigham Young, told of 'the Baptist priest who came to see Joseph Smith. . . . [T]he Baptist stood before him, and folding his arms said, 'Is it possible that I now flash my optics upon a man who has conversed with my Savior?' 'Yes,' says the Prophet, 'I don't know but you do; would not you like to wrestle with me?' That, you see, brought the priest right on to the thrashing floor, and he turned a sumerset right straight. After he had whirled round a few times, like a duck shot in the head, he concluded that his piety had been awfully shocked . . .'

("Journal of Discourses," vol. 3, pp. 66-67)


"Joseph Smith's close friend, Benjamin F. Johnson, made this observation after Smith's death:

"'And yet, although so social and even convivial at times, he would allow no arrogance or undue liberties. Criticisms, even by his associates, were rarely acceptable. Contradictions would arouse in him the lion at once. By no one of his fellows would he be superseded.... one or another of his associates were more than once, for their impudence, helped from the congregation by his foot. . . . He soundly thrashed his brother William . . . While with him in such fraternal, social and sometimes convivial moods, we could not then so fully realize the greatness and majesty of his calling.'

(Benjamin F. Johnson, letter to Elder George S. Gibbs, 1903, as printed in The "Testimony of Joseph Smith's Best Friend," pp. 4-5)


"Mormon writer Max Parkin refers to a court case against Joseph Smith in which Calvin Stoddard, Joseph Smith's brother-in-law, testified that, 'Smith then came up and knocked him in the forehead with his flat hand -- the blow knocked him down, when Smith repeated the blow four or five times, very hard -- made him blind -- that Smith afterwards came to him and asked his forgiveness . . .'

("Conflict at Kirtland," citing from the "Painesville Telegraph," June 26, 1835)


"Parkin also quotes Luke S. Johnson, who served as an apostle in the early Mormon Church, as saying that when a minister insulted Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, Smith, ‘"boxed his ears with both hands, and turning his face towards the door, kicked him into the street,' for the man's lack of charity."

(ibid., p. 268)


"In the 'History of the Church' for the year 1843, we read of two fights Joseph Smith had in Nauvoo:

"'Josiah Butterfield came to my house and insulted me so outrageously that I kicked him out of the house, across the yard, and into the street."

("History of the Church," vol. 5, p. 316)


"'Bagby called me a liar, and picked up a stone to throw at me, which so enraged me that I followed him a few steps, and struck him two or three times. Esquire Daniel H. Wells stepped between us and succeeded in separating us. . . . I rode down to Alderman Whitney . . . [H]e imposed a fine which I paid, and then returned to the political meeting.'

(ibid., p. 524)


"On August 13, 1843, Joseph Smith admitted that he had tried to choke Walter Bagby: 'I met him, and he gave me some abusive language, taking up a stone to throw at me: I seized him by the throat to choke him off.'

(ibid., p. 531)


"After he became president of the Mormon Church, Brigham Young commented, 'If you had the Prophet Joseph to deal with, you would think that I am quite mild. . . . He would not bear the usage I have borne, and would appear as though he would tear down all the houses in the city, and tear up trees by the roots, if men conducted to him in the way they have to me.'

("Journal of Discourses," vol. 8, pp. 317-318)


"In addition to choking, kicking people out of houses and churches, knocking them in the head, boxing their ears, and tearing their clothing, the evidence indicates that he threatened people's lives."

(For documentation see, 'The Mormon Hierarchy,' pp. 91-92).
_____


--Holy Hallucinations and Hereditary Epilepsy--

"The idea that Joseph Smith was mentally ill has been around for a long time. In discussing theories about the origin of the Book of Mormon, Francis W. Kirkham, a Mormon writer, mentioned one of the anti-Mormon theories: 'The Book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith, a person subject to epileptic fits in early life and later to other pathological mental conditions.'

(Kirkham, "A New Witness For Christ in America," 1951, vol. 1, p. 350). . .


"Dr. Kirkham . . . [then cites] the following from the [1902] book, The Founder of Mormonism, written by Isaac Woodbridge Riley . . .:

"'Thurlow Weed, when first Joseph submitted to him the Book of Mormon, said that he was either crazy or a very shallow impostor. There is no call for so harsh a judgment . . . There is a truer and, at the same time, more charitable explanation -- it is, in a word, that Joseph Smith, Junior, was an epileptic.'

". . . [I]t does seem that there was something seriously amiss in [Smith's] life.

"It is interesting to note that Joseph Smith's grandfather, Solomon Mack, seemed to suffer from fits. He even wrote a book detailing some of his fits, 'severe accidents,' and unusual visions he received. In his book, 'A Narrative of the Life of Solomon Mack,' Joseph Smith's grandfather wrote:

"'I afterwards was taken with a fit, when traveling with an axe under my arm . . . I was senseless from one until five p.m. When I came to myself . . . I was all covered with blood and much cut and bruised. When I came to my senses I could not tell where I had been nor where I was going. But by good luck I went right and arrived at the first house . . . .'

(as cited in Joseph Smith's "New England Heritage," by Richard L. Anderson, 1971, p. 43)


"Although Dr. Anderson mentions that, '[t]here were also "some fits" among his later disorders," he rejects the idea that he was 'afflicted with hereditary epilepsy, which too neatly explains his grandson's visions as epileptic seizures, with flashing lights and lapses into unconsciousness. But the case of neither grandfather nor grandson fits such speculation.'

(ibid., p. 13)


"In a footnote on p. 166, Anderson says that '[i]t is even possible that Solomon used 'fit' in the early sense of 'a mortal crisis, a bodily state (whether painful or not) that betokens death.'

"Nevertheless, Solomon Mack described so many accidents in his book that it would make one wonder if there was something seriously wrong with the man.

"In any case, in the official account of Joseph Smith's First Vision he wrote:

"'. . . I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.'"

("Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith -- History," v. 15)


"Joseph Smith described the remarkable vision he saw and then went on to say: 'When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up to heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home.'

(ibid., v. 20)


"While Joseph Smith claimed that he saw an actual vision, there is a similarity to his grandfather's experience in that both of them were overpowered and passed out. Interestingly, both Joseph and his grandfather used the expression, 'When I came to myself'

(compare v. 20 with Solomon Mack's account cited above).


"Another account of the [First] [V]ision appears in Joseph Smith's 1835 dairy. This account contains some eerie material about a strange noise Joseph heard that was not published in the official version:

"'My tongue seemed to be swol[l]en in my mouth, so that I could not utter. I heard a noise behind me like some person walking towards me. I strove again to pray but could not. The noise seemed to draw nearer. I sprung up on my feet {page 23} and looked around, but saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking.'

("An American Prophet's Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith," edited by Scott H. Faulring, 1987, p. 51)


"It is interesting to note that some of those who suffer from epilepsy claim they hear "peculiar sounds" just prior to an attack

(see 'The American Medical Association Family Medical Guide,' 1987, p. 289).


"Whatever the case may be, the fact that Joseph Smith claimed he heard the sound of "some person walking towards" him whom he was unable to see is certainly weird.

"Some critics of the LDS Church claim that the spooky elements of the [First] [V]ision, such as Joseph Smith being 'seized upon by some power which entirely overcame" him, the "thick darkness,' and the attempt to 'bind' his tongue prove that the vision was demonic. Mormons, on the other hand, maintain that God thwarted an attack by Satan and gave Joseph a wonderful vision.

"Foster . . . gives another alternative: Joseph Smith may have suffered from an hallucination.

"Joseph's First Vision experience was not the only time that he passed out. Later, Joseph Smith claimed he was visited in the night three times by an angel who told him about the gold plates. Joseph wrote:

"'I shortly after arose from my bed, and, as usual, went to the necessary labors of that day; but, in attempting to work as at other times, I found my strength so exhausted as to render me entirely unable. My father, who was laboring along with me, discovered something to be wrong with me, and told me to go home. I started with the intention of going to the house; but, in attempting to cross the fence out of the field where we were, my strength entirely failed me, and I fell helpless on the ground, and for a long time was quite unconscious of anything.

"'The first thing that I can recollect was a voice speaking unto me, calling me by name. I looked up, and beheld the same messenger . . .'

("Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith -- History," v. 48-49)


"It is also interesting to note that both Solomon Mack and Joseph Smith claimed they prayed for God's forgiveness. Both maintained that they had a spiritual experience in which they saw a bright light in their house on more than one occasion.

"Mack wrote:

"'I was distressed to think how I had abused the Sabbath and had not taken warning from my wife. About midnight I saw a light about a foot from my face as bright as fire; the doors were all shut and no one stirring in the house. I thought by this that I had but a few moments to live, and oh what distress I was in. I prayed that the Lord would have mercy on my soul and deliver me from this horrible pit of sin. . . . I was in distress.

"'Another night soon after, I saw another light as bright as the first, at a small distance from my face, and I thought I had but a few moments to live.'

(as cited in "Joseph Smith's New England Heritage," p. 54)


"Joseph Smith wrote that after he had his First Vision, he was severely tempted:

"'. . . I was left to all kinds of temptations; and mingled with all kinds of society, I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God. . . . on the evening of the above-mentioned twenty-first of September, after I had retired to my bed for the night, I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies . . .

"'While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside . . . The room was exceedingly light . . . He called me by name . . . He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates . . .

"'After this communication, I saw the light in the room begin to gather immediately around . . . the room was left as it had been before the heavenly light had made its appearance.

"'I lay musing on the singularity of the scene . . . when in the midst of my meditation, suddenly discovered that my room was again beginning to get lighted, as it were, the same heavenly messenger was again by my bedside.'

("Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith -- History," v. 28-30, 32-34, 43-44)


"Joseph Smith, of course, also asserted that when he had his [F]irst [V]ision he 'saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun . . . .'

("Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith -- History," v. 17) . . .


"[If Foster is correct in his hypothesis regarding manic depression], the fact that Joseph Smith wrote, 'When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven' (v. 20) could be significant.

"As he was lying there on the ground the rays of the sun may have seemed like a blinding light shining in his eyes. Since Smith claimed the vision occurred in the woods early in the spring, and that he was 'looking up into heaven,' it is certainly possible that the sun shining down through the branches could have given him the impression he was having a vision.

"In addition to these parallels, both Smith and his grandfather had an experience in which they believed they were addressed by God or Christ. Solomon Mack wrote: ' . . . I was called by my Christian name . . .' (pp. 54-55) Smith also stated: 'One of them spake unto me, calling me by name . . . .' (v. 17)"
_____


--When It Comes to All Those Contradictions, What a Haywired Brain Could Explain--

"If Joseph Smith experienced hallucinations, . . . it would go a long way towards explaining why his story of the First Vision contains so many glaring contradictions. In the first account, which he wrote in 1832, he said there was only one personage present in the vision: the Lord Jesus Christ.

(see "An American Prophet's Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith," pp. 5-6)


"In the version written in 1835, Smith maintained that there were two persons whom he did not identify. In addition, however, he also said that he 'saw many angels in this vision . . .' (ibid., p. 51) Finally, in the official account published in 1842, Smith claimed that he saw both God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ! This account omits the presence of angels in the vision.

"Besides a number of other contradictions, Smith claimed that the vision occurred at the time of a revival in the Palmyra-Manchester area. In his official account he claimed that the First Vision took place 'early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty.'

"Wesley P. Walters, however, demonstrated conclusively that there was no such revival in the Palmyra-Manchester area. In fact, Walters found hard evidence that the revival did not occur until the fall of 1824. . . .

"If Joseph Smith suffered from seizures and hallucinations, it would make it easier to understand why he could not tell a consistent story about the First Vision. As we have shown above, in Joseph's official account of the vision he said he felt that he was 'doomed to destruction.' He also revealed that he 'was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction . . . .'

"In his book, 'Hearts Made Glad: The Charges of Intemperance Against Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet,' LaMar Petersen wrote the following:

"'Joseph's associates sometimes spoke of his paleness when "in vision" or when receiving a revelation. A daughter of Adaline Knight Belnap recorded her mother's impression of the Prophet in an instance of spiritual (spirituous?) passivity. "How well she remembers one day before her father died (Vinson Knight) of a little excitement in school. The children were busy when the school room door was carefully opened and two gentlemen entered, carrying the limp form of Joseph Smith. The children all sprang to their feet, for Brother Joseph lay helpless in their arms, his head resting on his brother's shoulder, his face pale as death, but his eyes were open, though he seemed not to see things earthly. The teacher quieted them by telling them that Brother Joseph was in a revelation, and they were carrying him to his office above the schoolroom."'

(Peterson, "Hearts Made Glad," 1975, p. 206)


"While there is no question that Joseph Smith and other early Mormon leaders did use alcoholic beverages . . . , this strange incident could be viewed as evidence supporting Foster's hypothesis of manic depression."
_____


--Mental Problems from Head to Toe: Infected Leg to Infected Mind--

". . . [I}t is certainly possible that traumatic events he experienced could have had a serious effect upon him. For example, when he was just a young boy, he had an extremely bad infection in his leg. According to his mother, it finally came to the point that the doctors were convinced that 'amputation is absolutely necessary in order to save his life.' His mother, however, requested the doctors make 'one more effort' to save the leg.

"Joseph's mother went on to state that he refused to take any brandy or wine before the operation. Consequently, he had nothing to kill the pain. According to Mrs. Smith, the operation was horrific. The surgeons had to bore 'into the bone of his leg, first on one side of the bone where it was affected, and then on the other side, after which they broke it off with a pair of forceps or pincers. They thus took away large pieces of the bone. When they broke off the first piece, Joseph screamed out so loudly, that I could not forbear running to him. . . .

"'When the third piece was taken away, I burst into the room again -- and oh, my God! what a spectacle for a mother's eye! The wound torn open, the blood still gushing from it, and the bed literally covered with blood. Joseph was as pale as a corpse . . . .'

("Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith The Prophet, and his Progenitors for Many Generations," by Lucy Smith, 1853, pp. 63-65)


"Although Joseph Smith dictated his recollection of the operation for his 'History of the Church,' it was never included in the published 'History.' . . .

"Joseph Smith claimed that the illness came upon him when he 'was five years old or thereabouts' and said that he 'endured the most acute suffering for a long time . . .'

"When amputation was suggested he responded: ' . . . /'A]s young as I was, I utterly refused to give my assent to the operation, but consented to their trying an experiment by removing a large portion of the bone . . . .'

"Smith went on to claim that he suffered persecution at this early period of his life, which, of course, was years before he had his First Vision:

"'. . . I was reduced so very low that my mother could carry me with ease.

"'After I began to get about I went on crutches till I started for the State of New York where my father had gone for the purpose of preparing a place for the removal of his family, which he affected by sending a man after us by the name of Caleb Howard . . . . We fell in with a family by the name of Gates who were travelling west, and Howard drove me from the waggon and made me travel in my weak state through the snow 40 miles per day for several days, during which time I suffered the most excruciating weariness and pain, and all this that Mr. Howard might enjoy the society of two of Mr. Gates daughters which he took on the wagon where I should have rode, and thus he continued to do, day after day through the Journey and when my brothers remonstrated with Mr. Howard for his treatment to me, he would knock them down with the butt of his whipp. -- When we arrived at Utica, N. York Howard threw the goods out of the wagon into the street and attempted to run away with the Horses and waggon, but my mother seized the horses by the rein . . . . On the way from Utica, I was left to ride on the last sleigh . . . . I was knocked down by the driver, one of Gate's Sons, and left to wallow in my blood until a stranger came along, picked me up, and carried me to the Town of Palmyra.'

(Joseph Smith, "History," Book A-1, pp. 131-132, LDS Church Historian's Office, ibid., p. 480)


"In her book, 'Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith,' p. 69, Mrs. Smith did mention the trouble she had with Mr. Howard and also stated that he mistreated 'my children, especially Joseph. He would compel him to travel miles at a time on foot, notwithstanding he was still lame.'

"Interestingly, however, she says nothing about her son's incredible claim that he walked in his 'weak state through the snow 40 miles per day for several days . . . .' Moreover, Mrs. Smith is silent with regard to the fact that Joseph claimed he was 'knocked down by the driver . . . and left to wallow in my blood until a stranger came along, picked me up, and carried me to the Town of Palmyra.'

"The question might be raised as to whether Joseph Smith was exaggerating or hallucinating. On the other hand, although it is difficult to believe, his mother may have forgotten the incident.

"It does not seem possible that Joseph Smith, who was "still lame" from the operation, could have walked "40 miles per day for several days" in the condition he was in after his operation. Mormon writers state that the operation was so severe that Joseph Smith walked with a slight limp for the rest of his life.

"Joseph Smith's statement that he 'was five years old or thereabouts' when he had the operation is incorrect; he was actually just over seven years old at the time. Mormon writer LeRoy S. Wirthlin shows that Joseph's mother places the date in '1813' and notes that Joseph's claim of being 'about "5 years old or thereabouts" . . . would not have placed the family in Lebanon' at the time of the epidemic

(see "Brigham Young University Studies," Spring 1981, p. 146).
_____


--Mentally Mad and Persecutionally Paranoid--

". . . Lucy Smith . . . claim[ed] that one evening when Joseph 'was passing through the door yard, a gun was fired across his pathway, with the evident intention of shooting him. He sprang to the door much frightened. We immediately went in search of the assassin . . . The next morning we found his tracks under a wagon, where he lay when he fired . . . We have not as yet discovered the man who made this attempt to murder, neither can we discover the cause thereof.'

("Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith," p. 73)


"While one might think that this had something to do with Joseph Smith's work on Mormonism, Mrs. Smith made it clear that this was before his First Vision.

"Besides these experiences, in 1832, Joseph Smith was actually tarred and feathered by an angry mob. Fawn Brodie stated that the mob, 'dragged Joseph . . . They stripped him, scratched and beat him with savage pleasure, and smeared his bleeding body with tar from head to foot. . . . they plastered him with feathers. It is said that Eli Johnson demanded that the prophet be castrated, for he suspected Joseph of being too intimate with his sister, Nancy Marinda. But the doctor who had been persuaded to join the mob declined . . .'

(Fawn Brodie, "No Man Knows My History," 1971, p. 119)


"Interestingly, Nancy Marinda Johnson later became one of Joseph's plural wives.

At any rate, it seems possible that the combination of the horrendous operation and the cruel mobbing could have resulted in Smith having some serious problems. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, for example, is caused by very shocking experiences. 'The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,' Fourth Edition, p. 424, gives this information:

"'The essential feature of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury . . . Traumatic events that are experienced directly include . . . violent personal assault . . .'

"It is obvious that the mobbing of Joseph Smith was a 'violent personal assault' upon him that could have affected his mental state. If he was prone to manic-depression, as Foster seems to believe, it could have had a devastating effect on his conduct. . . ."
_____


--As Bright as the Noonday Sun: Joseph Smith was a Certifiable Kook Case--

In the interest of historical fairness (and we all know just how FAIR Mormon apologists can be), ". . . FARMS-BYU scholars . . . should . . . inform their readers that . . . Joseph Smith . . . may have been mentally ill."

"May"?

Just like the world "may" be round.


(Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Salt Lake City Messenger," May 1996, Utah Lighthouse Ministry, under "Topical Index S-Z," at: http://www.utlm.org/topicalindexc.htm ; click on "#90 Messenger, 'Joseph Mentally Ill?'")



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/08/2011 07:53PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: March 08, 2011 08:52PM

I've never understood why JS wouldn't take as much alcohol as they could pour into him, given the circumstances. Was it supposed to be some kind of precursor to his future prophethood and WoW "inspiration" against the stuff?

That type of clangy take on holy principles embodies to me the "straining at gnats and swallowing camels" mindset. Why in his youthful extremity was JS against consuming alcohol but as an adult he did so, including at the time of his "martyrdom"?

Alcohol is an antiseptic, and an anesthetic (hence its widespread appeal to some people at certain points in their lives). Using it to clean a wound, if that's all that's available, has saved lives (especially before the advent of widespread aseptic technique in medicine, and ahead of the discovery of antibiotics, of course).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiseptic

Excerpts (including some of my favourite people):

The widespread introduction of antiseptic surgical methods followed the publishing of the paper "Antiseptic Principle of the Practice of Surgery" in 1867 by Joseph Lister, inspired by Louis Pasteur's germ theory of putrefaction. In this paper he advocated the use of carbolic acid (phenol) as a method of ensuring that any germs present were killed. Some of this work was anticipated by:

• Dr. George H. Tichenor who experimented with the use of alcohol on wounds ca. 1861–1863, and subsequently marketed a product for this purpose known as "Dr. Tichenor's Patent Medicine" after the American Civil War.

• Ignaz Semmelweis who published his work The Cause, Concept and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever in 1861, summarizing experiments and observations since 1847.

• Florence Nightingale, who contributed substantially to the report on the Royal Commission on the Health of the Army (1856–1857), based on her earlier work.

• Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., who published "The Contagiousness of Puerperal Fever" in 1843.

and even the ancient Greek physicians Galen (ca. 130–200 AD) and Hippocrates (ca. 400 BC). There is even a Sumerian clay tablet dating from 2150 BC advocating the use of similar techniques.
_____

Did JS think God wanted a bloody bed and a screaming child rather than a sedated boy and more serene scene?

Was JS more enlightened as an adult when he began consuming liquor or more holy as a kid suffering through a horrific experience without the aid and comfort of alcohol's sedative and pain-killing properties?

In such a situation, wouldn't it be obvious that alcohol can be more 'nectar of the gods' than forbidden fruit?

Maybe we can get some answers from Smith one day, as he guards the entrance to heaven and before he kicks many of us into touch for being "not worthy".

God knows we lack answers from the Mormon religion he founded, at least in my experience. One outstanding question for me is why the WoW forbids consumption of alcohol when Mormonism's founder and early prophets enjoyed a tipple now and again, or more often than that. Is it a case of denying the minions something the leaders enjoyed? If so, it wouldn't be the first time that was the case, and today's Mormon leaders proudly continue that tradition, it would seem. (Holding themselves above their people, not breaking the WoW, of which I have no suspicion or evidence).

Interesting post, Steve. Thanks!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/08/2011 08:54PM by Nightingale.

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Posted by: John_Lyle ( )
Date: September 28, 2012 11:13PM

Night:

Ethanol alcohol is neither an analgesic, (analgesics relieve pain), nor is it an anesthetic, (anesthetics make you feel *nothing*).

It's a central nervous system depressant.

The phrase: "Feeling no pain" is an idiom, it has no basis in reality.

People who are very drunk, still react - sometimes strongly - to noxious stimuli. Trust me, I have personal experience with this reaction.

People who are drunk are still quite able to feel pain. The young JS could have consumed as much alcohol as he wanted and it wouldn't have affected his suffering...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/28/2012 11:14PM by John_Lyle.

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Posted by: John_Lyle ( )
Date: September 28, 2012 11:32PM

Tertiary syphillis...

Explains everything...

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Posted by: robertb ( )
Date: March 08, 2011 10:58PM

It always dicey to "diagnose" someone you haven't actually spent time with and particularly dicey with historical figures, but in November 2009 RfM poster Diaposon suggested a diagnosis I think is plausible and for which he provided supporting evidence. Says Diaposon:

"In my opinion Smith meets the criteria for both Antisocial AND Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They are not mutually exclusive.

The diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder is supported by the following criterion:

A. There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:

Criterion A-1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest.
a. Smith repeatedly performed marriages without legal authority
b. Smith illegally engaged in polygamy and polyandry and encouraged select members of his congregation to do likewise.
c. Smith illegally and fraudulently created a bank in Ohio
d. Smith deceitfully misrepresented the banks assets to lure investors
e. Smith failed to honor financial commitments which led to the bank’s collapse
f. A warrant was issued for his arrest
g. Smith formed a private Army (Zion’s Camp) for the purpose of retaking property seized by citizens opposed to the influx of Mormon’s into their communities
h. Smith formed and illegal private police force (the Danites) which inflicted pain and terror on citizens of Missouri, plundered and pillaged their home, and engaged the Missouri State Militia in battle causing fatalities on both sides
i. Smith ordered the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor, a newspaper that was exposing his polygamous activities

Criterion A-2. Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
a. Smith repeatedly told others he had the ability to locate buried treasure and conned people into paying him to find treasure on their property. He was tried and convicted of this crime in 1826.
b. Smith made numerous public denials about polygamy when he was in fact actively practicing it.
c. Smith purported to receive a revelation on from God commanding the practice of polygamy. But Smith had privately been practicing it for 12 years prior to the purported revelation
d. Smith claimed to be able to translate ancient Egyptian papyri. He claimed they consisted of the writings of Abraham. His translation was called the Book of Abraham. Later analysis of the papyri and of the facsimiles included in the Book of Abraham conclude that they papyri are nothing more the typical Egyptian funerary documents
e. Smith succumbed to a hoax claiming that forge/fabricated plates were ancient plates with engraving in ‘reformed Egyptian.’ The perpetrators of the hoax later confessed.
f. Smith continually lied to Emma about his involvement in polygamy and repeatedly married other women without her knowledge or consent
g. After Emma finally consented to polygamy, Smith conducted a marriage ceremony in from of Emma to two women he had already married

Criterion A-5. Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
a. Smith authorized the creation of an illegal militia that caused terror, committed murder, and plundered and pillage the homes of ordinary citizens.

Criterion A-6. Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
a. Smith looked for easy methods to make money rather than honest labor as evidenced by his money digging and treasure seeking
b. Smith instituted the United Order and expected all church members to sign over all their property and possession to the church. Smith himself did not abide by this order.
c. Smith created an illegal and fraudulent bank which ultimately failed
d. Smith tried to persuade church members in Missouri to deed over title of their property to the church
e. Smith was financially liable for one-half of the cost of the first publication of the Book of Mormon but had no way to come up with the money and persuaded Martin Harris to pay for all of it.

Criterion A-7. Lack of remorse as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another
a. Smith never expressed any sadness or remorse for the citizens which lost home and personal property at the hands of the Danites
b. Smith never expressed sadness or remorse at causing the Saints to uproot and move numerous times.
c. Smith never expressed any sadness or remorse for the people who lost all they owned in his Kirtland bank fraud.
d. Smith never expressed sadness or remorse for the pain inflicted on his wife Emma by his adultery, polygamy, and polyandry
e. Smith never expressed sadness or remorse for persuading innocent teenage girls to become his plural wives.

The diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is support by the following criterion:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five or more of the following:

Criterion (1) Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g. exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
a. Smith considered himself greater than Jesus Christ as evidenced by the following statement made shortly before his death.
“I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam... Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” (History of The Church 6:408–409)

b. Smith purported to receive divine revelation modifying the Bible. He modified numerous passages in the Old and New Testaments, including adding passages to the book of Genesis which prophesied of himself.

Criterion (2) Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
a. Smith founded and named himself as President and Prophet of his church
b. He was the major of Nauvoo
c. He was the commander of the Nauvoo Legion
d. He sought the presidency of the United States
e. He sought to establish a literal kingdom of God on earth in which he would be both the political ruler and religious leader
f. Pursued numerous women and had 33 wives some of whom of whom where already married to other men. Several of his wives were teenagers, some as young as 14-16 years old.

Criterion (3) Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
a. Devalued the credentials of those who disappointed him (i.e. Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, W.W. Phelps, Thomas B. Marsh. William Law, John Bennett)
b. Established a small group of men called the council of 50 which was to assist his candidacy for the presidency of the United States
c. Joined the Masonic lodge in Nauvoo and gained the highest degree within an unusually short period of time. Was expelled from the lodge for trying to exert too much influence
d. Smith believed that he was above the law.

Criterion (4) Requires excessive admiration
a. Smith certainly craved and fed off the admiration of others. He demanded respect and agreement from those who surrounded him. He was quick to dispatch them if they disagreed.

Criterion (5) Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance it his or her expectations.
a. Expected other women to comply immediately (within 24 hours – virtually an automatic compliance) of his request for them to become a polygamous wife.
b. Smith excommunicated any church leaders that did not agree with him
c. Whenever Smith did not get acceptable performance for those who surrounded him and shared in leadership of the church, He claimed revelation from God to rebuke those close to him who didn’t follow his wishes and threatened them with eternal punishment if they didn’t comply with his wishes.

Criterion (6) Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends. (Note: They expect to be given whatever they want or feel they need, no matter what it might mean to others. For example, these individuals may expect great dedication from others and may overwork them without regard for the impact on their lives….They often usurp special privileges and extra resources that they believe they deserve because they are so special.)
a. Smith exploited others by getting them to pay him to find buried treasure on their property which he was never able to do.
b. Smith exploited women and young teenage girls. He married several teenage girls as young as 14-16 years old.
c. Smith conned people into believing that he could find buried treasure on their property
d. Smith started the United Order in which every member was supposed to give everything they owned to the church. Smith himself did not abide by this law.

Criterion (7) Lacks empathy; is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
a. Not only did he lack empathy – he claimed revelations from God that rebuked others for not following his desires
b. Smith tried unsuccessfully for years to get his wife Emma to agree to polygamy (he was already practicing it behind her back). Smith was unable to recognize the emotional impact this would have on his wife. Smith finally claimed a revelation rebuking Emma for not accepting polygamy and threatened that she would lose her eternal salvation if she did not accept the principle

Criterion (9) Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
a. Asking numerous women to marry him, including teenagers and also women who were already married certainly exhibits arrogance
b. Smith excommunicated Oliver for challenging him on his adultery and his first polygamous marriage to Fanny Alger.
c. Smith excommunicated church leaders in Missouri who opposed the actions of the Danites
d. Revised the Old and New Testament to prophecy of himself. Revising the Bible would have to be viewed as being extremely arrogant."

----------------------------------------------

Of course, what you come up with also depends on whether or not you believe Smith actually had the "visions" he claimed to have or was fabricating them. I believe he was fabricating rather than hallucinating. His alternating between depression and elation fits the depression and inflation of narcissism (and could also be a product of the great stress he experienced)and is not necessarily indicative of bi-polar disorder. I also see Smith as more calculated rather than impulsive, again indicative of narcissism (and antisocial personality) rather than bi-polar disorder. His anger can be explained as narcissistic rage.

Smith's medical trauma may have played a part. Robert D. Anderson, author of Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith: Psychobiography and the Book of Mormon, believes the trauma from the surgery formed the seed of Smith's narcissism, by putting in Smith a profound position of helplessness that he would spend the rest of his life trying to prevent and compensate for.

Anderson also notes that Smith's apparently ineffectual father, his father's alcoholism, the family's constant near-poverty, and his mother's great expectations of her sons also affected the development of Smith's personality. The book is worth the read for the insight Anderson has into Smith and his family, although I don't see how Smith's trauma is worked out through the Book of Mormon, both because I find many of Anderson's interpretations a stretch and because I don't believe Smith authored the book.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/09/2011 12:05AM by robertb.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: March 08, 2011 11:15PM

I've read much of Anderson's book and I think he may be putting too much stock in Smith's early trauma, at least as far as it supposedly affected so deeply Smith's alleged manufacture of the Book of Mormon.

I say "alleged" because I don't think the Book of Mormon was a produçt of Smith's creation, either.

Or a product of those non-existent ancient American prophets.

I believe Rigdon and Cowdery (with special thanks to a certain Mr. Spaulding) had a lot more to do with its production and that Smith was just along for the ride.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/08/2011 11:38PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: robertb ( )
Date: March 08, 2011 11:38PM

I agree, Steve. I don't think Smith's early surgery, though traumatic, necessarily produced his narcissism. Although we usually think of an event creating trauma, our subsequent reaction is the biggest part creating it and that varies from person-to-person.

This is speculation, but I am guessing that because of Smith's injury, he was treated as very special and came to have an inflated view of himself. (I've seen this happen in families in which a child is disabled and the parents "baby" him and he develops the idea everyone is at his service.) Smith's father struggled and it was the sons who saved the family. When Alvin, the nominated (and apparently quite capable) savior of the family died, Joseph tried to step in. I'm guessing not a lot of limits were put on Smith or he didn't learn to put limits on himself.

Although I disagree with Dan Vogel's idea of Smith as a "pious fraud" because I don't see Smith as pious, I thought his book Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet contained some very helpful information on Smith family and some of the dynamics involved.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 03/09/2011 06:58PM by robertb.

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Posted by: get her done ( )
Date: March 08, 2011 11:36PM

As always, well done, well documented, and undebatable. Great post, new information, thanks.

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Posted by: robertb ( )
Date: March 08, 2011 11:41PM


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Posted by: get her done ( )
Date: March 09, 2011 01:18PM

Residental treatment and velcro him to the liberty jail walls again until he stops hallucinating. To get his attention kick him in the balls every half hour and waterboard him hourly....I believe in tough love.

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Posted by: get her done ( )
Date: March 09, 2011 01:21PM

The DSM IV revised certainly could classfy him bipolar. He had most the required symptons......just a guess.....

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Posted by: atheist&happy:-) ( )
Date: March 09, 2011 12:30AM

"diagnosis without a name" for founders of religious sects. Religion gets special treatment, and usually the founders of the fringe sects are labeled as "mentally ill" or cons, but the ones out of sight, centuries away, are considered the "real" prophets. I think there is a pattern, but I do not believe epilesy or even manic depression is the cause. People are responsible for their own decisions, and actions, and JS was a criminal. He may have had medical conditions, but he would then be a criminal, pedophile, serial adulterer, etc. with a medical condition or predisposition. Also drug or alcohol abuse could cause "mental" symptoms.

steve benson Wrote:

> "Foster's hypothesis is that Smith suffered from manic-depression,

I was misdiagnosed more than once before I was correctly diagnosed. I think it is too difficult to attempt a diagnosis from historical hearsay. What we do have are many facts as evidence that JS was a con man.

> "'In no area were Joseph Smith's manic qualities
> more evident than in his efforts to introduce and
> practice polygamy during the last three years of
> his life.

Polygamy lasted a lot longer than three years:

http://www.i4m.com/think/polygamy/JS_Polygamy_Timeline.htm

> "Why did Joseph Smith feel so preoccupied with
> introducing plural marriage among his followers .
> . . . Was there some hidden psychological key that
> could help make sense of this seemingly obsessive
> drive? . . .

Maybe JS was just a womanizer.

As for mood swings, a lot of things cause mood swings.

> many people are aware that one of Joseph Smith's
> brightest and most appealing sons, David Hyrum,
> tragically lapsed into insanity and spent the last
> years of his life in a mental institution,

I don't know the history of his son, but I do know mental institutions were used for a wide variety of illnesses, and also to get rid of unwanted people.

> "In the various forms of manic-depressive illness,
> the manic highs alternate in bipolar fashion with
> periods of depression. . . .

Despite these claims, where are the accounts of depression? I have never heard any stories of JS as a melancholy profit. All claims are that he was jovial.

> "Most obvious is the Mormon prophet's
> extraordinary expansiveness and grandiosity
> throughout this period...

His grandiosity could also mean he was a narcissist or sociopath who used people. Jan van Leiden, and L. Ron Hubbard are also similar to JS in some of these ways.

> The point at which Joseph Smith began
> systematically to introduce polygamy to his
> closest associates has strong suggestions of
> mania. . . .

To me this is a contradictory argument to some degree. They are saying he was so manic that he was hypersexual, yet he was introducing polygamy to others. Do womanizer's like to share? Doesn't that defeat the purpose?

> "If the First Vision is viewed as an
> hallucination, and the revelation to establish
> polygamy as a natural result of manic-depression,
> then one can be more sympathetic with Joseph
> Smith's strange behavior. Under this hypothesis
> many things about Joseph Smith can be explained."

This is an admitted apologist argument, and I feel an attempt to excuse his criminal behavior. To me, the First Vision has all the hallmarks of a liar who cannot keep his story straight, and changes the facts to suit his purposes. One should not assume a hallucination accounts for anything you want to explain away.

> --One Peepstone Short of a Full Hat: Fits of
> Uncontrolled Anger--
>
> ". . . Foster stated that could account for
> 'Joseph Smith's ferocious anger in . . . the last
> couple of years of his life.' It could also help
> explain why Smith became the 'head of his own
> private army, became 'king' of his secret Kingdom
> of God . . . ran for president of the United
> States . . .

Anger is not a coherent explanation for this to me. I am not an expert, but to me it would be more likely that JS had issues with control: namely controlling others so they would not control him instead of just setting boundaries, and of course wanting to be the narcissistic center of attention.

> "Joseph Smith . . . was prone to violence.

I think his violence, and anger just show he was a bully who liked to intimidate, and control people.

> 'Smith then came up and knocked him in the
> forehead with his flat hand -- the blow knocked
> him down, when Smith repeated the blow four or
> five times, very hard -- made him blind -- that
> Smith afterwards came to him and asked his
> forgiveness . . .'

LOL! Why didn't the so called profit JS heal him?

> "In addition to choking, kicking people out of
> houses and churches, knocking them in the head,
> boxing their ears, and tearing their clothing, the
> evidence indicates that he threatened people's
> lives."

My dad threatened my life, but he was an abuser who knew what he was doing, and his intimidation served a purpose: to keep the abuse secret, and keep himself from punishment by the law.

> --Holy Hallucinations and Hereditary Epilepsy--
>
> "The idea that Joseph Smith was mentally ill has
> been around for a long time. In discussing
> theories about the origin of the Book of Mormon,
> Francis W. Kirkham, a Mormon writer, mentioned one
> of the anti-Mormon theories: 'The Book of Mormon
> was written by Joseph Smith, a person subject to
> epileptic fits in early life and later to other
> pathological mental conditions.'
>
> (Kirkham, "A New Witness For Christ in America,"
> 1951, vol. 1, p. 350). . .

Epilepsy is not mental illness, and this is an outdated prejudice.

> "Dr. Kirkham . . . the following from the [1902]
> book, The Founder of Mormonism, written by Isaac
> Woodbridge Riley . . .:
>
> "'Thurlow Weed, when first Joseph submitted to him
> the Book of Mormon, said that he was either crazy
> or a very shallow impostor. There is no call for
> so harsh a judgment . . . There is a truer and, at
> the same time, more charitable explanation -- it
> is, in a word, that Joseph Smith, Junior, was an
> epileptic.'

This is more misguided apologetics. It is an insult to epileptics to use a neurological condition to excuse criminal behavior.

> "It is interesting to note that Joseph Smith's
> grandfather, Solomon Mack, seemed to suffer from
> fits. He even wrote a book detailing some of his
> fits, 'severe accidents,' and unusual visions he
> received......

There are many types of seizures with many types of causes. Everyone can have a seizure if their threshold is lowered. It is entirely possible that SM had a habit such as alcohol or other substance use that caused his "fits".

Mormon Visions and the Gift of the Holy Ghost
http://www.i4m.com/think/history/holy-ghost.htm

As far as the "official" version of the First Vision, none of it is very descriptive of a seizure to me. Detail is lacking. To me a truthful account of a seizure, let alone one of heavenly beings, would have a lot more detail. Also, he kept changing his story.... like a liar.

> "'My tongue seemed to be swolen in my mouth, so
> that I could not utter. I heard a noise behind me
> like some person walking towards me. I strove
> again to pray but could not. The noise seemed to
> draw nearer. I sprung up on my feet {page 23} and
> looked around, but saw no person or thing that was
> calculated to produce the noise of walking.'

Two comments:
1. Once my tongue felt paralyzed, and the neurologist thought I might have an unusual blood disorder. My symptoms actually resembled hemolytic anemia with a seizure. Being unable to speak does not prove a seizure disorder to me, because there are many causes of temporary weakness or paralysis.
2. If he heard a noise before a seizure, and was able to spring to his feet, he could likely fall. I hear noises during partial seizures without falling, but they are neurological dysfunction. The sound is a vibrating or ringing sound. Epileptics rarely hear complex sounds, and are not likely to hear footsteps when they do.

> my strength so exhausted as to render me entirely unable.....
> my strength entirely failed me, and
> I fell helpless on the ground, and for a long time
> was quite unconscious of anything.

Exhaustion comes after a seizure, not before.

From what I know, the visual hallucinations of epileptics are also simple neurological dysfunction, and not complex. I see light around my hands, and in the past, when given certain SSRI's, around other objects, but it is a very faint light, and certainly not a divine manifestation. JS showed an incredible ability to manipulate, con, and deceive people. If he ever had anything resembling a seizure, it was exaggerated, lied about, and used to manipulate people, and as I said, the evolution of the First Vision shows the pattern of a liar.

> "Joseph Smith wrote that after he had his First
> Vision, he was severely tempted:
>
> "'. . . I was left to all kinds of temptations;
> and mingled with all kinds of society, I
> frequently fell into many foolish errors, and
> displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles
> of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me
> into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of
> God. . . .

I think he was trying to explain away his treasure hunting, and other problems. People used to think moral weakness or demonic possession were causes of epilepsy. People still mistakenly attribute bad character with "mental illness".

> ", the fact that Joseph Smith wrote, 'When I came
> to myself again, I found myself lying on my back,
> looking up into heaven' (v. 20) could be
> significant.

Passed out drunk?

> "If Joseph Smith suffered from seizures and
> hallucinations, it would make it easier to
> understand why he could not tell a consistent
> story about the First Vision. As we have shown
> above, in Joseph's official account of the vision
> he said he felt that he was 'doomed to
> destruction.' He also revealed that he 'was ready
> to sink into despair and abandon myself to
> destruction . . . .'

Epilepsy does not make one consistently inconsistent or untruthful or even forgetful. I have excellent memory of most seizures, even many partial ones, unless I am unconscious. When I forget, eventually details return. Despair can be part of a seizure, but his description does not sound real to me. He does not sound like someone who has actually experienced that type of despair. Also, once I had an actual hallucination from lack of sleep. I saw something insignificant that was not there the next day. I had vivid, and accurate recall of everything. To me this is an apologist trying to excuse criminal behavior by claiming JS had epilepsy, and by implying there is dishonesty or an aspect of losing one's mind associated with epilepsy. These are actually old prejudices, and notions about seizure disorders that are not true. Doctors know better now, but the public takes years to catch up.

> "In his book, 'Hearts Made Glad: The Charges of
> Intemperance Against Joseph Smith the Mormon
> Prophet,' LaMar Petersen wrote the following:
>
> "'Joseph's associates sometimes spoke of his
> paleness when "in vision" or when receiving a
> revelation.

People say I have turned nearly white during a seizure. Also, alcohol abuse, and many things can trigger seizures, but having a seizure does not mean one has epilepsy.

> --Mental Problems from Head to Toe: Infected Leg
> to Infected Mind--
>
> "The question might be raised as to whether Joseph
> Smith was exaggerating or hallucinating. On the
> other hand, although it is difficult to believe,
> his mother may have forgotten the incident.

A better explanation for me is that JS is a known con man, and liar.

> --Mentally Mad and Persecutionally Paranoid--
>
> "It is obvious that the mobbing of Joseph Smith
> was a 'violent personal assault' upon him that
> could have affected his mental state. If he was
> prone to manic-depression, as Foster seems to
> believe, it could have had a devastating effect on
> his conduct. . . ."

JS was a liar, and a con who maybe had PTSD. That does not excuse his conduct. I have PTSD, and a lot of people on this board have PTSD, but it does not make us lying, manipulative, con artists who go around victimizing people.

Personally, I do not think JS was "mentally ill". I think he was a sick SOB who knew exactly what he was doing like any con man or sociopath or megalomaniac.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/09/2011 12:53AM by atheist&happy:-).

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Posted by: robertb ( )
Date: March 09, 2011 07:04PM

The biggest problem I see to "diagnosing" Joseph Smith is our concepts of mental health and our diagnostic criteria are formed in the context of *our* culture and not Smith's. At the same time, there are some universals about what is harmful and wrong to do human beings at anytime, regardless of what a particular period or culture accepts.

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Posted by: Charlie Sheen ( )
Date: March 09, 2011 01:23PM


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Posted by: WickedTwin ( )
Date: March 09, 2011 04:22PM

I have bipolar disorder. Those example really don't sound right to me. Hypersexuality doesn't normally involve dragging people in with you. It also does not last for years and years and years.

And where was his depression?

Smith was a con man. Who's to say he wasn't crazymaking to use as background information to get out of criminal prosecution for things, or a good reason for making up a fake religion, should he be exposed? "Here are all the reasons I was crazy, can't you see? I'm not responsible!" (starts drooling)

I just think he was a con man covering his ass with craziness to shirk any kind of responsibility for any of his dealings with his fellow man.

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Posted by: Anon ( )
Date: March 09, 2011 05:34PM

-Wine delivered to the Carthage jail
-The full oak bar installed in the Beehive house which had to be removed by Bring'am Young's infuriated first wife

I can't remember if these were mentioned in Krakauer's book or Brodie's.

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Posted by: Umm ( )
Date: March 09, 2011 06:40PM

And it's disgusting that you would bring it up as something that should reflect badly on a person. We all know JS was a reprehensible human being. Suggesting that epilepsy had anything to do with that is low even for you.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: March 09, 2011 06:51PM

. . . including conditions that are mental in nature.

(Please note that I identified epilepsy in a subhead as a condition that can be "hereditary" in nature). It was Kirkham--a pro-Mormon writer, not I--who in attacking the claims of Mormonism's critics portrayed epilepsy as a pathological mental disorder. Moreover, Anderson--also quoted--does not think Smith was afflicted with hereditary epilepsy. At any rate, I posed the issue in the form of a larger question, something I think you perhaps would have noticed had you read the subject line of the post and the text of the accompanying analysis more carefully).

I believe you could benefit from availing yourself of the link where you can read the article in toto, as well as from a more careful reading of the portions of that article that I quoted in the original post.



Edited 14 time(s). Last edit at 03/10/2011 05:39PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: atheist&happy:-) ( )
Date: March 09, 2011 07:43PM

When I disagreed with the some of the causes I deleted the references to save space. Most of the references had quotation marks, and of course are cited in the post.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: March 09, 2011 07:51PM


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Posted by: atheist&happy:-) ( )
Date: March 10, 2011 01:11AM


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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: March 09, 2011 08:40PM

It's not so completely out of line to suggest/observe that some people with epilepsy also have other health concerns, among them some conditions that are classified as psychiatric in nature.

Excerpts from a couple of Net articles (the usual proviso applies - consider the source - but I think these two are reasonable):

1.

"Particular difficulty may be experienced in distinguishing complex forms of epilepsy from certain kinds of psychiatric disorder. Epileptic patients can sometimes have an abnormal personality, and it may be unclear if this is an expression of a personality disorder."

http://www.rethink.org/about_mental_illness/what_causes_mental_illness/physical_causes_of_m.html


2.

"Patients with epilepsy have a high prevalence of psychiatric comorbid disorders.

"Both neurology and psychiatry deal with diseases of the same organ—the brain. Predicting interaction between neurologic and psychiatric diseases is not, therefore, unreasonable. In an editorial in the journal Neurology in 2000, Price, Adams, and Coyle explored these interactions. The clinical relationship between epilepsy and behavioral disorders remains controversial.

"Epilepsy is a chronic disorder characterized by seizures, or a paroxysmal brain dysfunction due to excessive neuronal discharge. Psychiatric and cognitive disturbances are relatively common in epilepsy, especially refractory epilepsy.
Some authors find a greater incidence of behavioral disorders in patients with epilepsy than in the general population. Other authors argue that this apparent overrepresentation is due to sampling errors or inadequate control groups.

"As neurologists, we tend to focus on seizure control, and psychiatric comorbidities are often underestimated. Recognizing psychiatric manifestations is an area that needs improvement.

"The most common psychiatric conditions in epilepsy are depression, anxiety, and psychoses.

"Because of the phenomenology of epilepsy, the close association between epilepsy and psychiatry has a long history. The traditional approach to epilepsy care has been to focus on the seizures and their treatment. Concentrating only on the treatment of the seizures, which occupy only a small proportion of the patient's life, does not seem to address many of the issues that have an adverse impact on the quality of life of the patient with epilepsy. Sackellares and Berent stated that comprehensive care of the epileptic patient requires "...attention to the psychological and social consequences of epilepsy as well as to the control of seizures."

"Vuilleumier and Jallon estimated that 20-30% of patients with epilepsy have psychiatric disturbances.

"Vuilleumier and Jallon found that 2-9% of patients with epilepsy have psychotic disorders. Perez and Trimble reported that about half of epileptic patients with psychosis could be diagnosed with schizophrenia."

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1186336-overview

-----

Obviously, we have yet to fully understand the mechanics of the brain, if we ever will. It is true that epilepsy is not considered to be a psychiatric condition but many people with epilepsy have "co-morbidities" that are currently categorized as being mental health issues. It is obviously a challenge to make the separate and firm diagnoses in some such cases. It could explain, though, why there has been confusion in the past about the nature of the condition of epilepsy. Whether some physical aspects of epilepsy or of some other disorders of the brain, some in the mental health realm, cause or worsen epilepsy's effects or those of the other conditions is not yet fully understood, I don't think.

Too, there is the element of the strong medications to treat epilepsy and some of these other conditions, medications that can give rise to significant side effects, either causing or worsening some other physical or mental issues.

It's true enough that people with epilepsy have been misdiagnosed, misunderstood, mistreated and discriminated against and that prejudice has promoted some erroneous ideas about the condition. Fortunately, now there is much more medical knowledge about it, better medications, more understanding, and less negative bias. Recognizing that some people who have epilepsy also have other issues pertaining to mental health (that may or may not be related to the epilepsy - I don't think we know that yet) is the medical reality of the situation, backed up by research and stats on it. Saying that is not in and of itself an incorrect statement nor is it unfounded bias.

As it relates to JS, I agree that it's almost impossible to reach back through time and accurately assess and diagnose any conditions that are not completely straightforward (such as that members of various royal families suffered from hemophilia - no "presentism" there) but there are certain characteristics of most physical and mental health problems (indeed, that is what helps physicians to make accurate and specific diagnoses). It's not completely out of the question that we can look at historical figures and through records and interviews and observations of their behaviour and characteristics make a reasonable claim about any health problems they may have had. (I don't think it's out of the question, for instance, to think that Jack the Ripper likely had a mental health problem or two).

I wouldn't bet the house on a specific mental health diagnosis for JS (I don't have the expertise, for one thing) but I can see room for assuming that he may have had some psych issues.

It's interesting to discuss this aspect of Smith's life, even if some of the debate is in the realm of speculation.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/09/2011 08:44PM by Nightingale.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: Dr. Psych. ( )
Date: June 10, 2013 12:40AM

Was JS psychopathic/sociopathic? Yes. His entire life
demonstrates this. He conned, bullied, manipulated, charmed people. Had little empathy. Got rid of people when they crossed his purposes by physically throwing them out or ex-communicating them.

Did JS have seizures with hallucinations? From his own description, in his early life, it is certain that he did. As his brain grew to maturity, he seems to have outgrown them, which is sometimes the case. There are many kinds of seizures depending where the brain is impaired or injured. The kind of seizures most people are aware of are convulsive disorders.

Was joseph bipolar? Probably not. His behavior was manic, but he was not depressed. He was very power-driven,aggressive, hyperactive and impulsive, with little impulse control.

Did JS have periods of uncontrollable rage? Did he have an uncontrollable temper? Yes. Sometimes resulting in violent behavior.

Was he delusional? Yes he defined himself as "prophet, seer and revelator," "general" "king." He knew he was conning people in his treasure hunting and in his story of the "plates," but he probably believed his trance experiences were real.

He produced the Book of Mormon from self-induced
trance experiences. His face-in-the-hat technique is a method
for inducing the trance state, not a method of translating. The material he claimed to be translating was never referred to, but was covered or hidden.

It is typical for some people who have deep trance experiences to believe their trance experiences are real, because the brain responds in the deep trance state just as it does during real external behavior.


No person with normal mental characteristics could have created Mormonism. JS could not have created the church, without being sociopathic, narsisitic, power-driven, sex-driven, highly intelligent, creative, with the ability to quickly and easily become so mentally absorbed as to enter a deep trance state, during which he dictated the B of M, and etc. Incidentally, I have performed similar experiments on highly responsive trance state subjects.

A lot of good historical material and discussion in this forum. I appreciate it.

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