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Study: People who are "spiritual" but not religious are more likely to have mental health problems


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#1 Velvet Elvis

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 11:38 AM


They are more likely to suffer from a range of mental health problems than either the conventionally religious or those who are agnostic or atheists, found researchers at University College London.


They are more disposed towards anxiety disorders, phobias and neuroses, have eating disorders and drug problems.


In addition, they are more likely than others to be taking medication for mental health problems.


Professor Michael King, from University College London, and his fellow researchers wrote in the British Journal of Psychiatry: "Our main finding is that people who had a spiritual understanding of life had worse mental health than those with an understanding that was neither religious nor spiritual.

 

I don't know what to make of this.

 

 

http://www.telegraph...h-problems.html


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#2 Titania

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 11:45 AM

Maybe the two are linked in the sense that people who find life to be more ambiguous and care less about rules/rituals/order found in strict religion/dogmatic atheism often then suffer angst more openly? Maybe someone outside a religious community who doesn't have template for life neatly set up will find stress to be more of a problem and then will identify with and be treated with mental health issues?

 

I know a lot nutso religious folks who go undiagnosed and untreated because they are so religiously nuts that no one can reach them. Many faith communities deny that MI or addiction has a medical basis and treat with spiritually. It makes sense to me that those who end up on the radar for being treated for a mental health problem aren't in these circles.

 

I know a lot of people who have nothing to do with religion who find that they have a solid morality and sense of purpose outside it and are very calm people. I don't think that atheism can be a protection from mental illness in that sense, but I imagine dispensing with a lot of the bullshit masquerading as religion could make getting on with life or seeking help for MI and getting it dealt with easier.


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#3 WinterRosie

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 11:54 AM

Like Ti said, organized religion can act as an inoculation against getting diagnosed and treated, rather than against the illness itself. I wonder if it works the same way with this study: that the correlation is that people try to explain away their illness as having a spiritual base. I know I've tried to explain fasting as being religious (and I've never been a part of organized religion), when I was doing it because my eating disorder said so. The way that it's written implies the reverse but I think that they're backwards.


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#4 Indigo 'n dye

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 01:54 PM

Hmmm, I do not have a conventional religious framework, but I certainly have am extremely scrupulous and conscientious POV about my spirituality and yes, my unconventional religiosity. I have great reverence for my personal understanding of deity and find that the artificial division of religious/spiritual to be false at best and incongruous at least.

 

IF, big if, memory serves, religious and spiritual are synonyms. It is only the Christian element that insists that religion must contain "the church", that specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed up by "sects". Or who define religion as the lifestyle of monks, nuns, priests.

 

http://dictionary.re...browse/religion

a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

 
My own spiritual and religious beliefs hark back to an early definition: conscience, meticulous, scrupulous. Observation is a very important part of my religious dedication and spiritual practice.
 
I am not as sure as the author is that my tendencies make me any crazier than the more "normal" religious practitioner. I do not, nor have I ever proclaimed that my religious/spiritual beliefs or practices either created or encourages my particular crazy.


 


#5 Velvet Elvis

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 06:09 PM

Hmmm, I do not have a conventional religious framework, but I certainly have am extremely scrupulous and conscientious POV about my spirituality and yes, my unconventional religiosity. I have great reverence for my personal understanding of deity and find that the artificial division of religious/spiritual to be false at best and incongruous at least.

 

IF, big if, memory serves, religious and spiritual are synonyms. It is only the Christian element that insists that religion must contain "the church", that specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed up by "sects". Or who define religion as the lifestyle of monks, nuns, priests.

 

 

 

http://dictionary.re...browse/religion

a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

 

 
My own spiritual and religious beliefs hark back to an early definition: conscience, meticulous, scrupulous. Observation is a very important part of my religious dedication and spiritual practice.
 
I am not as sure as the author is that my tendencies make me any crazier than the more "normal" religious practitioner. I do not, nor have I ever proclaimed that my religious/spiritual beliefs or practices either created or encourages my particular crazy.

 

Eh, I've known people who call themselves spiritual but don't have any of that.  Hell that definition of religion doesn't even apply to Unitarians.


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#6 december_brigette

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 09:29 PM

The last sentence of the article says it all.

 

db


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#7 inmyhead

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 10:29 AM

The last sentence of the article says it all.

 

db

 

Indeed.

Without reading this article I could understand that spiritual people are more likely to suffer from anxiety, simply because of the unknown.  Religious people and Atheists have a strong opinion of 'the end' where as a spiritual person doesn't hold a concrete opinion of 'the end'.


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#8 slcdude

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 02:56 PM

"The nature of this association needs greater examination in qualitative and in prospective quantitative research."

The last sentence. I hope the nex few studies use bigger sample and track people over a long amount of time.

 

I wouldn't be surprised if the study behind this was funded by a religious think tank since 4 of 5 particapants identified a religious and Christian. There goes my Conspiracy theory mental machine again.

 

I am "spiritual". Buddhism is a religion for tax purposes only. ;) We don't believe in a creator god and we don't worship Buddha or any other deity. I am quite happy. I personally leave the question of a creator god as an open question but ultimatetly it doesn't matter. I see Buddhism as part philosophy and part spirituality,so there you go.


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#9 Manic Maverick

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 07:33 AM

I had a whole lecture about this at uni and they dug into this story and found out the study it's based on is correlating data between two other unrelated studies and the way the question about relgion is phrased in one of them is very ambiguous and doesn't even specifically mean "spiritual but not religious." I can try and get the information from someone at the uni if you're all interested but the long and short of it is that this is an unreliable conclusion based on an unreliable correlative study.



#10 ovOidampUle

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 08:18 AM

I'd be interested in the questions and constructs here; we can conjecture, but a lot of our conjecture is based on the definitions and distinctions. We have no idea how it was defined and the typical newspaper report doesn't ask or answer any of the interesting questions. 

 

There's some good discussion in the comment thread there too. 


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#11 saveyoursanity

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 09:26 AM

Without reading this article I could understand that spiritual people are more likely to suffer from anxiety, simply because of the unknown.  Religious people and Atheists have a strong opinion of 'the end' where as a spiritual person doesn't hold a concrete opinion of 'the end'.

 

They are more likely to suffer from a range of mental health problems than either the conventionally religious or those who are agnostic or atheists

 

I bolded the important bit.  It doesn't seem likely as a "peace of mind" type thing that spiritual people would necessarily have more anxiety than ...  agnostics, who by definition believe that the existence or non-existence of any deity is unknown and possibly unknowable.

 

Regardless, I can't imagine this study will be replicable.


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#12 2Spirals

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 02:30 AM

 

The last sentence of the article says it all.

 

db

 

Indeed.

Without reading this article I could understand that spiritual people are more likely to suffer from anxiety, simply because of the unknown.  Religious people and Atheists have a strong opinion of 'the end' where as a spiritual person doesn't hold a concrete opinion of 'the end'.

 

 

I am spiritual and not religious, but I have a very firm understanding of 'the end'. I have read a lot of different books about the afterlife, that come from people who have had both near-death experiences and also those who are able to channel through automatic writings, and I have a pretty basic but firm understanding of how it all works. There is so much more to learn, of course, I can't know it all, and we're not supposed to.. our brains couldn't handle it. 


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