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Issue # Photo by Evgeni Dinev


Psychology and Spirituality By Tori Vaughan

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Photo by David Castillo Dominici

Historical Context

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A History of Division  Egyptian hieroglyphics indicate that mental illnesses were understood through a religious context (5000 BC).  It was thought that evil spirits and demon possessions were the cause of mental and physical illnesses and could only be cured through magic.  Through that God afflicts people with “madness, blindness and confusion of the mind” as punishment for the sins they commit (NIV Bible, Deut. 32:39).  Plato stresses the importance of treating the soul as well as the physical body in order to obtain justice within one’s self (500 BC).  500-1200 A.D, medieval medicinal practices named “monastic”, as medicine began to be taught under the direction of the church.  The act of human dissection was believed to be sinful, like an act of disrespect to God and as many physicians were also priests, such acts became illegal.

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 The outlaw of autopsy lead to the rise of “body snatching” due to the issue of morality involved.  Prior to the 18th century most Protestant religious groups renounced the cause of mental illness as acts of evil forces and deemed mental illness as being caused by separation from God and demonic possession.  In the Renaissance era that surgeries began to regain legality and the quest for understanding mental illness began to take rise.  In the 19th century, the mentally ill were under the care of the church.

Psychiatrists throughout the past have viewed religion as being associated with hysteria and neurosis A divide between religion and mental health care was created that has continued until recently. Psychiatry has a long tradition of dismissing and attacking religious experience.

The Issue Today Yet, despite how far each institution has come, debate still remains. Controversy lies on the issue of integration of religious and spiritual aspects into treatment practices for patients dealing with mental illnesses and whether or not there is sufficient evidence that supports religion having beneficial effects on health.

In regards to the historical context of the tensions between religion and spirituality on medical and scientific practices, it is clear that there has been and still is a great deal of debate concerning the subject even today. Overall, each issue between the two has been based on concepts of morality and lack of mutual understanding.

All too often, researchers with opposing views towards the benefits of religion on health status argue the statement that there is irrelevance to, or lack of evidence in proving that religion has positive effects on health status, however, it has been shown through countless studies that circumstantial to current mental health states, religion and spiritual can in fact have beneficial effects on a patients mental health.

Respectively, this takes into account that such patients are battling a mental illness like depression, anxiety or other personality disabilities, and in that state of mental illness, the patient has no other aspect to their life that provides them with beneficial effects, yet the practices in which provide beneficial effects depend on whether or not they are healthy or unhealthy practices. There is a definite difference between the two, and it is understood by the majority of studies and leading researchers of the subject that healthy religious and spiritual practices could to be beneficial to mental health improvement

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Dr. Fallot Fallot: Sidebar Setup “While it is difficult to establish causality in these observations, religion may function in ways that conflict with the recovery goals of both consumers and clinicians”


When Religious and Spiritual Practices Can Be Deemed Unhealthy

Dr. Sidebar Lawrence Brown: Add Content Adding content into a column to create a sidebar is no Religion can be regarded as cognitive and different from adding text. As noted earlier in this behavioral which according to how it is template, applysystem the styles provided for headings, used in the lives of individuals, contributes toand sidebar text, and even pictures to align them quickly the maturing process” easily.

Pastor Billy Burris:


“More than half of the people worldwide who suffer from depression do not seek treatment. It has been proven that participation in religious Learn about these “thermometer charts” in the article at beliefs promotes greater mental health; yet right. with faith-based communities facilitating awareness and care information, people are still refusing to seek help


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First and foremost, the most negative effects that religion and acts of spirituality can have on patients’ treatment and recovery arises when the patient denies the medical attention and treatment methods necessary to cure the patient.. Sometimes a patient may stop life-saving medication, fail to seek timely medical care or completely replace mental health care with religion. When a patient denies the proper care due to deviant religious beliefs, this is when religion becomes unhealthy. As many patients battling mental health issues turn to religion and other aspects of spirituality as a means to cope, there are difficulties of religious experiences in relations to mental illness. Often times, the negative effects to mental health recovery result from unhealthy views that the patient has towards the institution of religion. When patients associate one specific view of their religious deity, they are likely to experience differing responses to healing 

For example, those who view God or another higher power as distant or vengeful instead of personable and forgiving aren’t likely to respond to either medical or spiritual treatment well because their personal understanding of their deity effects whether or not that deity will provide them with the ability to overcome.

Photo by Ambro 

Patients who have had a negative past experience with religion or religious practices can discourage positive views of religion and spirituality all together.

In accordance to mental status, religion influences the coping process because it puts failures and tragedies within a context that gives comfort to  Patients with severe depression may the individual. Religion also challenges have deepened issues in regards to people to live according to their core rigidly self-deprecating beliefs about values and the hop they have found sinfulness or guilt. Those battling through faith acts as encouragement for Photo by David Castillo Dominici anxiety issues may have heightened persistence when they would otherwise anxiousness by trying to achieve give up during difficult times. It is not by It is not by religion itself that people are unattainable ideals, fabricated religion itself that people are impartial impartial to “give up” as in losing all hope for through literal religious to “give up” as in losing all hope for mental coping, and develop an unhealthy interpretation. Those battling mental and develop an to mental but of it isthe theyoung “giving up” itself onwithin a text column Noticestatus, the image woman that’s on the preceding page. The background has been coping, removed from that image personality disorders may also take unhealthy mental status, but it is the religion thattocauses the mental unrest. allow text wrap directly around the subject. on delusions or hallucinations based “giving up” itself on religion that causes on religious content the mental unrest Office 2010 introduced several new and improved picture formatting tools in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Among those is the Remove Background tool that you can use to remove backgrounds from your own images, similar to the sample image on the preceding page. To do this in Word, first insert your image into the document (on the Insert tab, click Picture), and then select it. Then, on the Picture Tools Format tab, in the Adjust group, click Remove Background.

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The Remove Background feature automatically displays what it believes to be the central subject of the image. However, it’s easy to adjust this if the immediate result is not what you need. On the Background Removal tab, click Mark Areas to Keep or Mark Areas to Remove and then drag your mouse pointer in a line across the portion of the image you want to add or remove. When you are finished making adjustments, click Keep Changes.

How Healthy Religious and Spiritual Practices are Beneficial to Mental Health


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Individuals that are hospitalized with a critical condition, diagnosed with a chronic illness or develop a mental illness due to a traumatic experience find themselves at their most vulnerable and generally search for answers, hope and comfort within something greater than themselves. What people are looking for is something to believe in, and they often find it through religion and spirituality. Although there are still differing views on the matter, the number of evidence shown through case studies and accounts of individual’s personal experiences shows that religion, when practiced in a healthy manner, offers more beneficial effects on mental health than negative.

Case Studies:

Harold Koenig PhD and Jeff Levin PhD express evidence on the benefits of religion to mental health patients in Faith, Medicine and Science. A study of theirs published in 2001 explored how persons with persistent mental illness turned to religious/spiritual beliefs as a means to cope with their symptoms. The study followed by [Article Author] 400 patients served by mental health care clinics throughout Los Angeles County and found that 80% of participants used some sort of religious/spiritual belief or activity as a coping method. 65% of participants stated that religion helped them in a large part with coping with their symptoms and later found that the amount of time each patient drew upon such aspects of religion and spirituality were correlated with less severe symptoms and overall improved mental stability.

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Research by Nicole Taylor of Psychology Today writs for the Journal of Religion and Health that in studies conducted on 150 women in New York on the effects of religious coping on mental illness, participating patients who displayed greater religious faith and support also exhibited greater communication in regards to their illness. An increased religious faith and support was associated with more effective coping strategies overall. Kevin Seybold of “The Role of Religion and Spirituality in Mental and Physical Health” also contends that studies show that perhaps the most moving contribution of religion to mental illness is the encouragement of fellowship, in which builds moral support. Harold Koenig of the Handbook of Religion and Health presents over 1,200 case studies since 2000 pertaining to the effects of religion on general health and mental well-being. Koenig notes, “Religious beliefs and practices rooted

within established religious traditions were found to be consistently associated with better health and predicted better heather over time. When the mind, body and spirit are balanced and in order, this is true health”. Positive influences of healthy practices of religion and spirituality include the encouragement of healthy lifestyles, social cohesiveness, relying on prayer, meditation or other practices to alleviate anxiety and other stressors and mental illness symptoms while connecting the individual to a positive behavior while also helping to find meaning in life outside of the identity of a mental illness. When a patient displays healthy practices, they are more inclined to accept lifesaving treatments and seek timely medical care. Photo by Markuso

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