How the misinterpretation of human nature has stifled the progress of civilisation

Hagioptasia (meaning ‘holy vision’) has recently been identified as an evolved, adaptive psychological mechanism, which evokes in us a deep sense of longing.

Hagioptasia is not an emotion, but a natural tendency to perceive certain persons, places or things as being preternaturally ‘special’. Consequently, this evolved motivational drive inspires emotional feelings, which influence our behaviour in ways that closely correspond with competitive, hierarchical, status related behaviours observed in other communal mammals.

Hagioptasia has played a major role in the development of religious and spiritual beliefs, and other areas of human culture which employ the powers of mystique, glory and ‘glamour’ – such as the arts, fashion, celebrity & social systems of status.

It is invaluable for us to recognise how we are naturally predisposed to yearn for the illusory imaginings of hagioptasia, as left unchecked, this will inevitably result in frustration and disappointment, or worse. Our desires to satisfy these aspirations of ‘specialness’ continue to be a major cause of trouble in human society. An understanding of hagioptasia – being aware of how and when it is influencing our thoughts and behaviours – can help us to alleviate the problems created by this influence, and enable people to use their hagioptasic experiences more constructively.

In 2019 an online questionnaire to research hagioptasia gathered data from nearly 3,000 people, and the findings were published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. The study showed that hagioptasia can be reliably measured, and that humans do have a natural tendency to generate and attach an illusory sense of “specialness”.

‘Measuring hagioptasia: A case study in theory-testing through Internet-based personality scale development’:

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