Koenig - Research on Religion

Koenig - Research on Religion - In Review Research on...

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In Review Research on Religion, Spirituality, and Mental Health: A Review Harold G Koenig, MD 1 Key Words: religion, spirituality, depression, anxiety, psychosis, substance abuse D espite spectacular advances in technology and science, 90% of the world’s population is involved today in some form of religious or spiritual practice. 1 Nonreligious people make up less than 0.1% of the populations in many Middle- Eastern and African countries. Only 8 of 238 countries have populations where more than 25% say they are not religious, and those are countries where the state has placed limitations on religious freedom. Atheism is actually rare around the world. More than 30 countries report no atheists (0%) and in only 12 of 238 countries do atheists make up 5% or more of the population. In Canada, 12.5% of the population are non- religious and 1.9% atheist. Evidence for religion playing a role in human life dates back 500 000 years ago when ritual treatment of skulls took place during China’s paleolithic period. 2 Why has religion endured over this vast span of human history? What purpose has it served and does it continue to serve? I will argue that religion is a powerful coping behaviour that enables people to make sense of suffering, provides control over the overwhelming forces of nature (both internal and external), and promotes social rules that facilitate communal living, cooperation, and mutual support. Until recent times, religion and mental health care were closely aligned. 3 Many of the first mental hospitals were The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Vol 54, No 5, May 2009 W 283 Religious and spiritual factors are increasingly being examined in psychiatric research. Religious beliefs and practices have long been linked to hysteria, neurosis, and psychotic delusions. However, recent studies have identified another side of religion that may serve as a psychological and social resource for coping with stress. After defining the terms religion and spirituality, this paper reviews research on the relation between religion and (or) spirituality, and mental health, focusing on depression, suicide, anxiety, psychosis, and substance abuse. The results of an earlier systematic review are discussed, and more recent studies in the United States, Canada, Europe, and other countries are described. While religious beliefs and practices can represent powerful sources of comfort, hope, and meaning, they are often intricately entangled with neurotic and psychotic disorders, sometimes making it difficult to determine whether they are a resource or a liability. Can J Psychiatry. 2009;54(5):283–291. Clinical Implications · Religious beliefs and practices may be important resources for coping with illness. · Religious beliefs may contribute to mental pathology in some cases.
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This note was uploaded on 12/20/2010 for the course SOC 101 taught by Professor Sullivan during the Spring '08 term at ASU.

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Koenig - Research on Religion - In Review Research on...

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