Religion and Mental Health

By Behere, Prakash; Das, Anweshak et al. | Indian Journal of Psychiatry, January 2013 | Go to article overview

Religion and Mental Health


Behere, Prakash, Das, Anweshak, Yadav, Richa, Behere, Aniruddh, Indian Journal of Psychiatry


Byline: Prakash. Behere, Anweshak. Das, Richa. Yadav, Aniruddh. Behere

In this chapter, the relation between religion and mental health and vice versa has been described. From primitive times different religions have different beliefs and systems of worshipping. Every religion with their belief system has implications on mental health and illness. We described how Hindu system of beliefs and rituals may have an effect in causation of various mental illnesses. It is also described how religion can help an individual to sustain one's life in various domains. The relationship between different religion and symptomatology is described. The impact and outcome of religion on mental health have been highlighted.

Introduction

Religion is as old as mankind. Primitive man had primitive religions and he worshiped the elements of nature like sun, earth, air, cloud, water, etc., Advances in civilization led to institutionaliszed religions. The basic characteristics of all religions are similar. There is a firm belief in a higher, unseen controlling power. Religion appears to be a psychological necessity for mankind. Religion which evolved due to basic psychological need of mankind later metamorphosed. Gradually religious practices developed into dogmas and superstitions. Though most religions continued changing with time many became completely fossilized. From mental health perspective religion provides much -needed guidelines, which can help individuals to devise a course for their lives. Stresses and strains as well as uncertainties of life can be tolerated more easily by the believers. However, many outmoded rituals and belief systems might inhibit positive growth and may lead to mental ill-health. [sup][1] In studying the relationship of spirituality with

health, it is not necessary to assume any position about the ontological reality of God or the spiritual realm. We can test whether measures of religious beliefs or behaviors are associated with health outcomes, regardless if we believe in the beliefs under investigation. India is a country which is associated with spiritual traditions for thousands of years; which has been home of some of the greatest religions of the world like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism. It is a land where spirituality is almost a way of life; where an even illiterate farmer or housewife will surprise one with their philosophical issues of life. [sup][2]

With the modern technology development, we noticed change in symptoms in psychiatric patients. Earlier patients used to say that people weer talking about him, but now it is changed and patients now say that the chip is implanted in brain, which is controlling the patient. Same is true with symptoms with religious connotations. Muslim patient will describe symptoms as possessed by "Peer" and a Hindu will describe symptoms as possessed by "Goddess".

Religion and Spirituality-Is there a Difference?

The definitions of religiosity and spirituality have been a perennial source of controversy. These are not interchangeable words. According to Betson and Ventisas early as 1912, the psychologist James Leuba detected 48 distinct definitions of religion. We will adopt the definitions given by Koenig et al . [sup][3]

Religion

Is an organized system of beliefs, practices, rituals, and symbols designed to facilitate closeness to the sacred or transcendent (God, higher power, or ultimate truth/reality)?. [sup][3]

Spirituality

Is the personal quest for understanding answers to the ultimate questions about life, about meaning, and about relationship with the sacred or transcendent, which may (or may not) lead to or arise from the development of religious rituals and the formation of a community? [sup][3]

Religion usually refers to socially based beliefs and traditions, often associated with ritual and ceremony, whereas spirituality generally refers to a deep-seated individual sense of connection through which each person's life is experienced as contributing to a valued and greater "whole," together with a sense of belonging and acceptance. …

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