Anthony Storr

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Anthony Storr (18 May 192017 March 2001) was an English psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and author.



Feet of Clay; Saints, Sinners, and Madmen: A Study of Gurus (New York: Free Press Paperbacks, 1997)

  • In other words, gurus generalize from their own experience. Some gurus are inclined to believe that all humanity should accept their vision: others allege that, when the last trump sounds, their own followers will be saved, whilst the majority of mankind will remain unredeemed. This apparently arrogant assumption is closely connected with certain features of personality displayed by a variety of gurus.
    • Introduction (pp. XII–XIII)
  • We must consider the possibility that the conviction expressed by gurus is less absolute than it appears in that their apparent confidence need boosting by the response of followers. As we shall see, some gurus avoid the stigma of being labelled insane or ever of being confined in a mental hospital because they have acquired a group of disciples who accept them as prophets rather than perceiving them as deluded.
    • Introduction (p. XV)
  • Constructing or adopting a belief system in which one is either God's prophet or God himself inflates the ego to monstrous proportions. Koresh was more deeply concerned with religion, Jim Jones with racial equality and an egalitarian society. But both compensated for isolation and lack of love in childhood by becoming infatuated with power, and both ended up with delusions of their own divinity.
    • Chapter I "Paranoid Enclosures" (p. 18)
  • Gurdjieff then suddenly announced that he was going to Tuapse, on the Black Sea. The dutiful de Hartmanns followed. Their account of an exhausting nocturnal walk forced on them by Gurdjieff in spite of the fact that they were unsuitably clad and also dead tired is a striking example of the autocratic and unreasonable demands which Gurdjieff made on his followers which they nevertheless slavishly obeyed. Olga de Hartmann's feet were so swollen and bleeding that she could not put on her shoes and had to walk barefoot. Thomas de Hartmann had missed a night's sleep because he had been ordered to stay on guard. Their limbs ached and they were both exhausted; but they went on nevertheless.
    • Chapter II "Georgei Ivanovitch Gurdjieff" (p. 27)
  • Gurdjieff was a dictator. He had the capacity so completely to humiliate his disciples that grown men would burst into tears. He might then show the victim special favour. He demanded unques tioning obedience to his arbitrary commands. For example, he once suddenly announced that none of his followers might speak to each other within the Institute. All communication must be by means of the special physical movements he had taught them. Gurdjieff sometimes imposed fasting for periods up to a week without any lessening of the work load. His authority was such that his followers convinced themselves that these orders were for their own good. Those less infatuated are likely to think that, like other gurus, Gurdjieff enjoyed the exercise of power its own sake.
    • Chapter II "Georgei Ivanovitch Gurdjieff" (p. 28)
  • Reading his discourses made me realize that Rajneesh was a sad loss. He had an extraordinary range of knowledge and a vision of how life should be lived, but he proved incapable of following his own precepts.
    • Chapter III "Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh" (p. 63)
  • In 20th-century England, an individual announcing that he was the son of God and would return after death in glory would probably attract psychiatric attention; but earlier generations might have regarded such claims as unsurprising.
    • Chapter VII "The Jesuit and Jesus" (p. 144)
  • Few subsequent gurus seem to have matched the simplicity and directness of Jesus′s message; but it must be remembered that we have very little information. If the world had possessed a detailed biographical account of Jesus, an authentic picture of what he was like as a man, it is quite possible that Christianity would not have been estabished as a world religion.
    • Chapter VII "The Jesuit and Jesus" (p. 147)
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