(1) Hallucinations – the person has invisible friends who (s)he insists are real, and to whom (s)he speaks daily, even though nobody can actually see or hear these friends
(2) Delusions – the patient believes that the invisible person has magical powers to make them rich, cure cancer, bring about world peace, and will do so eventually if asked.
(3) Denial/Inability to learn – though the requests for world peace remain unanswered, even after hundreds of years, the patients persist with the praying behavior, each time expecting different results
(4) Inability to distinguish fantasy from reality – the beliefs are contingent upon ancient mythology being accepted as historical fact.
(5) Paranoia – the belief that anyone who does not share their supernatural concept of reality is “evil,” “the devil,” “an agent of Satan”
(6) Emotional abuse – religious concepts such as sin, hell, cause feelings of guilt, shame, fear, and other types of emotional “baggage” which can scar the psyche for life
(7) Violence – many patients insist that others should share in their delusions, even to the extent of using harassment and violence.
[Religion] attacks us in our deepest integrity – the core of our self-respect. Religion says that we would not know right from wrong, we would not know an evil, wicked act from a decent human act without divine permission, without divine authority or without, even worse, either the fear of a divine punishment or the hope of a divine reward. It strips us of the right to make our own determination, as all humans always have, about what is and what is not a right human action. – Christopher Hitchens