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Catholic Dictionary




A state of mind that prompts unreasonable reactions in speech or conduct, often bordering on insanity, especially in religious matters. Fanaticism differs from insanity in being concentrated on some one area of behavior; in its antecedents, which include prolonged, at least implicit, indoctrination; in the deep sense of dedication to a particular cause; in the emotional zeal with which the cause is pursued; and in the blind anger against any person or persons who stand in the way. (Etym. Latin fanaticus, belonging to a temple; inspired by a divinity, enthusiastic; fanum, a temple.)