Religion a Health Resource
Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A monumental change is occurring in the world of psychology.
The emerging answer to the question Is religion good for your health? is (drumroll, please) It depends.
What, you're not impressed?
Then you must have missed the psychology classes that still present religion through Sigmund Freud's eyes - a universal obsessional neurosis that mirrors people's infantile defenses against an unknown world. The all-powerful God is a projection of one's father, and religious life is a collection of wishful fantasies, magical thinking and desperate rituals to appease a god who can punish or reward.
In other words, the previous answer to Is religion good for your health? was no.
What is causing learned men and women to reconsider religion as part of a healthy life? An explosion of studies - roughly 7,000 since 2000, according to Dr. Harold Koenig, who teaches psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center - is suggesting that being religious is associated with positive health outcomes.
Specifically, religious involvement is linked to lower rates of stress, depression, substance abuse, delinquency, cigarette smoking, sexual promiscuity and risky sex practices, less use of medical services and fewer hospitalizations and long-term care, researchers told a Dec. 3 Heritage Foundation conference called Religious Practice and Health - What Research Says.
Family religiosity is associated with better mental health outcomes for youth, said Elizabeth Hair of Child Trends, citing data from 9,000 teens in the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.
Among seniors, those who are religious tend to have higher levels of gratitude, which facilitates forgiveness and close relationships and results in fewer depressive symptoms, said Neil Krause, health behavior professor at the University of Michigan. …