The Therapeutic Function
Millenarianism has the capacity to restore a society to a spiritual wholeness. As a result, such a system of beliefs possesses a powerful therapeutic capability. It provides the firm foundation for a social healing and restorative process to take place following the experience of cultural, economic, and natural catastrophe. Such a process is not only beneficial to the mental and emotional health of the individual person but, just as important, it is a necessity if the overall society is to sustain itself.
An important factor that contributes to such a social healing is the boundless, utopian-seeking quality of millenarian beliefs. Such beliefs allow the potential for ideological foundations to be shaped into a call for complete, unqualified and, if necessary, violent, total, societal change that will seemingly rectify all social maladies 1.
It is not always a simple task to identify the political center of revolutionary millenarian movements, largely because their lack of sophistication and an effective strategy "makes them push their rationale for revolution often to the point of contradiction." 2 Nonetheless, such movements often exhibit a remarkably pragmatic and curative approach to solving the problems experienced by the societies in which they emerge. As a result, millenarian movements represent a form of revitalization movement. They offer therapeutic and curative alternate beliefs and solutions that will seemingly rectify all social problems and relieve severe collective stress. They function as a form of group therapy, which permits "disturbed individuals to repair morale through an intense group experience." 3
As early as 1919, Mao predicted that the long history of oppression suffered by the Chinese people at the hands of foreigners would eventually be followed by a period characterized by total societal transformation; "that the humiliation and
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Publication information: Book title: Revolution and the Millennium:China, Mexico, and Iran. Contributors: James F. Rinehart - Author. Publisher: Praeger Publishers. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 151.
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