Anyway, he seems to have a fantasy vision of a historical China where people were rational and mental problems didn't exist. Well, it's kind of true, nobody called them mental problems. They called them "Shen Disturbances." No society of humans has ever been rational. Most of us have moments of rational thinking. People have built Lunar-Landers facilitated by institutions like NASA dedicated to rational thinking. But has anyone met a fully rational human being? (I'm thinking right now about a certain female astronaut who recently wore diapers on a cross-country drive.)
That's why I was shocked to learn that in Taiwan at least one out of every four university students, or young intellectuals who should belong to the class of literati in imperial China, is "depressed enough to benefit from assistance" of one kind or the other. That information was found, among other things, by a John Tung Foundation survey conducted between last May and June. An even more shocking finding was that the kinds of assistance these depressed young intellectuals are seeking include "divination" and "exorcism."
The survey shows at least 1.8 percent and a slightly lower 1.7 percent of the 6,960 respondents rely on divination and exorcism, respectively, for help in dealing with depression. Those who wish to seek counseling from school counselors account for a mere 2.3 percent, much fewer than another 3.3 percent of the students chanting sutras and/or praying for divine help. Still another 2.8 percent believe their folklore religion -- animism, or more often than not, outright superstition -- can cure their depression. Altogether, 11.9 percent of Taiwan's young intellectuals want supernatural powers to get rid of their psychiatric disorder.
Mr. Hung seems quite convinced that exorcism doesn't work, while I'm pretty sure therapy doesn't work either. Actually talisman, divination, drugs, exorcism, therapy--it all works sometimes--it can work when people actually make and follow through on new commitments. But don't be surprised to find humans dedicated to something irrational. The only people who could be surprised by that are people who aren't paying attention.