It is undeniable that everyone has, from the exercise of their freedom, the right to discover what in their life fascinates them and to devote the effort they deem relevant to immerse themselves in it. So much so that, very often, it is the quickest and safest path to forge true virtue.
However, there is a (fuzzy) line between what “attracts” us and what becomes an executioner of our logic and understanding. And the fact is that passion, when drawn to its extremes, is nothing other than fanaticism. And that, according to its own definition, is based on the irrational and the absurd.
In this article, we will specifically address fanaticism and its resonance on society.. We will also define the expression he adopts and the way in which he alters the mental structure of the one who makes him his flag. Know it – it is essential not to fall into its worrying clutches.
What is sectarianism?
Fanaticism is a universal phenomenon (typical of all human civilization), its roots go back to the dawn of our evolutionary history. In fact, there are texts of classical philosophy in which such a question is debated and reflected on the possible impact of the still ideas that characterize it. like that, its existence does not come from a particular period of time, nor from external influences attributable to cultural dimensions; but it is part of the cognitive, behavioral and emotional baggage of our species.
The word “fanatic” comes from the Latin word “fanaticus”, which can be translated as follower or “belonging to a temple”. And it is that at the time of ancient Rome there were spaces called “fanum”, enclosures reserved for the worship of the gods. There were people particularly devoted to religious rites, and regular meetings were held in which the blessings of the year were praised (good weather, bountiful harvests, etc.) and the sins of men were purified, under the watchful eye of the beings. who dominated all aspects of personal and social life.
In this line, the fanatics get along like all those attitudes for which we orchestrate an extreme and irrational defense of a subject or a person, completely devoid of any indication of analysis. So much so that in fact, the fanatic’s “judgment” is obviously far from objectivity; to the point of being insensitive to any argument or evidence that might challenge and / or refute it. It is from this moment that the analogy with its etymological bases arises, because a certain thing is no longer appreciated or preferred, but a daring homage is paid to it (just like the Gods).
Fanaticism can be oriented towards a wide variety of subjects, from religion to politics, to personalities of all trades (musicians, athletes, actors, etc.). Not to be confused with fidelity to something, which is the deliberate and critical interest in investing efforts in a more particular subject, in a context of freedom (listening to a certain group or watching films by an actor / actress , attend football team meetings or have a formed opinion on social realities). fanaticism it means going further, in the territory where intolerance and prejudice live.
Fanatics devote themselves so ardently to the goal of their passion that it ends up taking up a disproportionate percentage of their time. It seems that he completely dominates most of his life, conditioning the way they act or think, and ultimately revealing himself as an inflexible attitude towards those who harbor ideas opposite to theirs (or even differing in the slightest degree). Thus, it would be broadcast by a single direction path; without moderation or questioning their interests, their depth, their consequences in life or the accuracy of the judgment.
In the most extreme cases, the fanatic completely transforms his habits and his daily life, in order to give his life to the cause (literally or metaphorically). At this level, all kinds of hostility and physical / emotional violence can arise; as well as the paradoxical fact that the fans themselves point out to those who show them their “seams” as irrational, crass, terrorists, sinners, dangerous, etc. This only exacerbates the fervor, and highlight the differences between the group you identify with (in-group) and others (out-group), Driving to insurmountable distances and aggravating the situation.
Although all people (regardless of their background or any other life condition) are susceptible to falling into bigotry, there are a number of “traits” that can increase the risk. In the following lines, we abound in this relevant question.
Characteristics of the fanatic
Fanaticism can define both what we think about reality and what we do with it. It is therefore a very complex concept and full of edges. We go into detail about the basic characteristics of those who adopt the attitude of a fan.
1. Conviction that you are right
Fanatics never doubt their conviction. They harbor ideas that do not admit the slightest doubt or reservation, so that they never raise the possibility that there is any bias in the reasoning that maintains them or in the behavior they adopt towards them. .
There is a very low capacity for self-criticismBut also great frustration in putting up with others to raise objections or question the adequacy of their beliefs. By analogy, one could say that his ideas are engraved on “tables of stone”.
At the same time, the certainty of what one does or thinks comes with (generally) a counterpart: others are never right. A fanatic person he considers false any assessment contrary to his ideas, Without necessarily having been the subject of a little in-depth analysis. Emotion and feelings take precedence over reasoning, so any possible alternative to action is excluded. This can happen, especially, in sects or similar beliefs, in which there is an intentional detachment from personal and economic heritage.
This trait can also take the form of an empowerment of the “positive” aspects, and a minimization (or absolute denial) of the negatives, especially when the object of this fanaticism is a person or a group. In this case, an immaculate image is drawn, without blemish or fault, which is tantamount to a form of blind idolatry.
2. Attempt to impose an opinion on others
Fanatics not only believe that they are right, but often they consider it essential that others “open their eyes” to their mistake of thinking differently. So there is a vision of supremacy in the realm of ideas; which is often brought to the stage of debate on the latter. During these debates, they can resort to dialectical juggling of all kinds, showing an authoritarianism which sets off the “alarms” of their interlocutor. Its form of persuasion has neither sophistication nor subtlety and is perceived within the confines of imposition itself.
Without a doubt, the most dramatic form of taxation is that which resorts to violence. Most wars have been fought by the sheer power of an idea or “certainty” that spread among the peoples confronted, and the aim was to endow each of them with beliefs on which to lose their own lives. or snatch that of others.
The same goes for cases of terrorism, Where many innocent people end up paying the debts of the fanaticism of others. There are also small-scale assaults attributable to the ideals of supporters, such as those that occur near a football match.
In short, the attempts to persuade fans are very varied, ranging from a simple discussion on any social network to the most disastrous of armed conflicts.
3. Dichotomous perception of reality
As for the object to which a fanatic has devotion, the existence of shades of gray, meeting points are generally not allowed which would serve to reconcile their point of view on the issue with that of others.
Instead, he tends to perceive reality by dichotomous terms, all or nothing, shifting any dissenting position to the opposite end of the spectrum of opinion. This artificially makes a “simplification” of reality, where there is a related group (those who agree in their point of view) and an equally antagonistic group of perspectives, regardless of the actual degree of divergence.
Fanaticism makes its object a tacit sign of identity, the importance is so extreme that it is presented as an elementary criterion of self-definition and of a feeling of belonging to a group.
With this arise rivalries that go beyond what one could deduce from reason: hatred of football fans, mistrust of those who profess a particular religion (such as Christianity or Islam , for example) and even and all the bitter discussions between the members of two fandoms (groups of people, usually young, who ardently love an artist or a group).
4. Sacrificed devotion
Another fundamental characteristic of fanaticism is its resistance to adversity. Although there are ideas that are detrimental to social life, they tend to stick. In fact, sometimes they can even be strengthened in the face of such circumstances.
All of this could be explained by mechanisms of cognitive dissonance, which would attempt to give (fanatic) belief a value equivalent to the weight of the sacrifice involved in its defense. Through such an emotional somersault would arise phenomena such as martyrs, who come to give their lives voluntarily (or resign) to defend what they believed.
5. Personality traits
Many personality traits associated with an increased risk of bigotry have been described. It has been observed that rapid social changes can lead, in those who do not adapt to them, to “embrace” with ardent dedication traditional values (even if they never felt particularly identified with them).
This process seeks to maintain a sense of identity where it may be perceived as elusive, giving up novelty because of difficulty understanding it.
Some studies also suggest that individual frustration is breeding ground for fanaticism. This feeling of incompleteness would favor the approach of an external element that compensates for deficiencies in self-confidence, So that a reality that the crowd believes in (or at least a significant percentage of it) is accepted as their own, in the absence of the capacity to believe in oneself. This would lead to a rapid response to a vacuum, precipitated by culture or an existential crisis, and likewise to satisfy the need for affiliation.
- Taylor, M. and Ryan, H. (2008). Fanaticism, political suicide and terrorism. Terrorism, 11, 91-111.
- Yousif, A. (2012). Fundamentalism and Fanaticism: A Comparative Analysis. Religious Studies and Theology, 30, 17-32.