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March 28, 2002
11:58 AM   Subscribe

Religious worship can keep you sane, say Canadian psychiatrists. But how do these results help explain some of these folks?
posted by ed (15 comments total)

 
So can a good kick in the arse.
posted by bittennails at 12:14 PM on March 28, 2002


Great logic ed! And how do all those studies about the health benefits of exercise explain atheletes who die of heart disease?
posted by straight at 12:27 PM on March 28, 2002


Can you say placebo effect? A sugar pill labeled as medicine, can cause you to get better because you believe it will help. So can religious belief, even though it probably does nothing physical to help you.
posted by jeblis at 12:31 PM on March 28, 2002


jeblis: I'd disagree -- the health, in this case, is mental. A rigorous mental discipline seems it is an active agent in creating a healthy mind, in the eyes of the psychiatric community. The fact that there exist several such disciplines, ready made, just makes it easier to implement them.

If we were talking religion as a tool to reduce swelling of turned ankles, perhaps I'd agree. But, for matters of the mind, I suggest that a different standard is required.
posted by dwivian at 12:41 PM on March 28, 2002


straight: My post was largely facetious, though meant to lead into a discussion on how this particular study was one of the first of its kind to attempt an understanding of the emotional state behind religion and how this study failed to account for the more outre emotional states that led to the religion-oriented massacres linked above. What's the nature of this inner peace? And is it as pure or as "normal" as this study seems to indicate?
posted by ed at 12:49 PM on March 28, 2002


this study failed to account for the more outre emotional states that led to the religion-oriented massacres linked above

Well since the number of religious people who commit massacres compared with the number of religious people who don't commit massacres is miniscule, it seems unlikely that religion is the most important variable in explaining such events.

You might as well complain that a study touting the benefits of Kool-Aid fails to account for the Jonestown massacre.
posted by straight at 1:14 PM on March 28, 2002


Casting this idea as science may be new but the idea is not. AA has successfully dealt with an otherwise intractable psychological malady through spiritual enlightenment since 1935.

Well since the number of religious people who commit massacres compared with the number of religious people who don't commit massacres is miniscule, it seems unlikely that religion is the most important variable in explaining such events.

Violence in the name of religion is an anomoly that is no more spiritual then saying "God dammit!" when you get mad at something. This study is identifying what is probably for these patients a newfound sense of well-being achieved by accepting spiritual belief (whether this belief is true or not is irrelevant).
posted by plaino at 1:58 PM on March 28, 2002


I think they have a point. I know I shouldn't, but often I 'fall back' to religion in bad times, and it really does help. I try to keep practicing all of the time, but in the bad times, it really does come in handy.
posted by wackybrit at 1:58 PM on March 28, 2002


The question here is if positive results were gained through inner peace of mind, whether obtained through a religion or not.
posted by ed at 2:07 PM on March 28, 2002


Interesting to have medical science looking at this ... though the idea is not completely new. Jung, Campbell, and a number of others have pointed out that religion is one of the very few really universal things in our species - in that it seems to appear in the earliest civilizations known to archeologists, has arisen in virtually every culture in earth's history, and shows absolutely no sign of weakening in modern times. While there certainly can be dispute about the validity or positive effects of any particular religion, it is a phenomena that plays a not inconsiderable role in a pretty large percentage of our race - and probably delivers some sort of beneficial effect or evolutionary advantage.

No clue what that might be though. (Curiously, another universal that seems to be almost more powerful than religion is art - it's appearance pre-dates even religion ... ).
posted by MidasMulligan at 5:21 PM on March 28, 2002


Jung, Campbell, and a number of others have pointed out that religion is one of the very few really universal things in our species - in that it seems to appear in the earliest civilizations known to archeologists, has arisen in virtually every culture in earth's history, and shows absolutely no sign of weakening in modern times.

I really wouldn't take it that far. I would say something more of the lines of that a need for an explanation is always in the works and religion, scientific materialism, solipisim, agnosticism, etc are symptoms of an inquisitive species.

Also, non-theism is a very modern concept which boomed, I think, in the 20s in the western world and has been rising since. Blame whoever - the devil, modern ideals, Nietzsche, but as non-theism rises theism declines.

I noticed an odd omission from this article. First and foremost group therapy is often employed to treat, in part, many mental illnesses. Its effective and theraputic. Western religions tend to be religions of consolation. There's a huge support network from the top on down. For recent converts this can be an incredible experience. Suddenly, one has new friends who want to help, a belief system of redemption regardless of one's actions, etc.

Its easy to mock a born-again, but without the mental juggling of ideas like power from above, forgiveness from above, and of course punishment from above I doubt GW Bush would have kicked his drug habits. There is power in ideology and communal activities, but its just a shame that some can't see that others can solve their problems in different ways.
posted by skallas at 6:42 PM on March 28, 2002


I doubt GW Bush would have kicked his drug habits
he's cleaned up? what evidence do you have to back up such an outrageous implication?
posted by quonsar at 9:02 PM on March 28, 2002


Oh come on, we all know that religion is the sorce of all the problems in the world.
posted by ncurley at 10:21 PM on March 28, 2002


skallas, are you sure you don't mean non-deism?
posted by bingo at 11:40 PM on March 28, 2002


Theism applies to any god or gods. Deism applies to the 'natural god' philosophy that was big in the 18th century.
posted by skallas at 2:13 PM on March 29, 2002


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