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Books by Genevieve Scholl. Trivia About Troubled Souls. No trivia or quizzes yet. None of the groups differed in their overall happiness though. The authors concluded that people who are spiritual but not religious in their understanding of life are more vulnerable to mental disorders than other people. The nature of the causal relationship between spirituality and mental disorder is currently unknown. Although many people describe themselves in terms of both conventional religiosity and subjective spirituality, people who were more focused on subjective spirituality and less interested in religiosity tended to have distinctly different personality characteristics compared to those with a more orthodox religious orientation.
People who described themselves in conventional religious terms tended to be fairly conservative in their attitudes and beliefs. Those who were more spiritual and less religious tended to be more non-conforming and even peculiar in their outlook and personal traits. For example, they were more likely than other people to describe themselves as weird and crazy.
Characteristics such as magical thinking and so on have been linked to a set of traits known as schizotypy, or proneness to mildly psychotic thinking. Schizotypy refers to a cluster of cognitive , emotional, and behavioural traits that are similar to but generally milder than those exhibited in schizophrenia.
It is associated with unusual beliefs about reality e. Schizotypy tends to be associated with high levels of anxiety and depression Lewandowski et al.
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It could be the case that people with schizotypal tendencies and associated proneness to anxiety and depression may find unconventional spiritual ideas to be particularly appealing. It is also possible and I admit this is speculation that adherence to such ideas exacerbates their existing mental imbalances. It should be noted though that many people with schizotypal tendencies are otherwise well-adjusted. Schizotypy has also been linked to artistic creativity. Whether unconventional spiritual pursuits are harmful to mental health is not yet known.
In some respects, the association between spirituality and mental disorder seems contrary to the benefits that many spiritual traditions claim to offer. Spiritual fulfilment is supposed to lead to inner peace, even bliss. So why are so many spiritual people so troubled?
It may be that some people are simply not that successful in pursuing whatever spiritual fulfilment they are seeking. This might indicate a lack of dedication or self-discipline on the part of those who claim to be spiritual but not religious. More detailed studies are needed to determine if this is the case. Another limitation of the study by King et al. Research could examine whether certain particular spiritual practices are more associated with mental disorder than others.
An additional puzzle is why the three groups in the King et al. Happiness was assessed with a single question, whereas mental health status was assessed with a clinical interview, so a more detailed assessment of well-being might provide a more nuanced picture. Considering the increasing prominence in modern society of people who consider themselves spiritual but not religious, more in-depth research is needed to understand fully why this group seems to be particularly vulnerable to mental illness. Please do not reproduce without permission.
Brief excerpts may be quoted as long as a link to the original article is provided. Precognition and the search for the soul: The Spirituality of Psychedelic Drug Users. Does it Benefit of Harm Society? Personality and cognitive predictors of New Age practices and beliefs. Personality and Individual Differences, 39 5 , Religion, spirituality and mental health: The British Journal of Psychiatry , 1 , Religion, mental health and ethnicity. Journal of Mental Health, 15 2 , Concerns About Measuring "Spirituality" in Research.
The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 5 , Anxiety and depression symptoms in psychometrically identified schizotypy.
Schizophrenia Research, 83 2—3 , Superstitious, magical, and paranormal beliefs: Journal of Research in Personality, 41 4 , Spiritual But Not Religious? Evidence for Two Independent Dispositions. Journal of Personality, 74 5 , So let me get this straight. If I have no interest in organized religion and dogma, but still want spirituality in my life, then there is a real probability that I suffer from mental illness.
Well that is alarming. I really struggle with traditional Christian beliefs and that is bad enough given the fact that I cannot express those views without making others uncomfortable. Folks are so offended if you aren't born again. Now I find out I might be mentally ill. Wow, maybe I have been wrong all this time. I'm not sure how to respond to your personal concerns but I would like to make some general points.
To be fair, and as I tried to point out in the article, the causal relationship between spirituality and mental illness is still unknown. That is, we don't yet know if it is spirituality that causes these people to have a high risk of mental illness. It is also possible that mentally troubled people look to spirituality for solutions to whatever is causing their inner turmoil.
It is also possible that some third variable underlies both their mental disorder and their spiritual tendencies, such as a tendency to have unusual and unreal thoughts. If you are seriously concerned about your mental health you may want to consider consulting with an appropriate professional.
It is quite common for people who are mainly anxiety-prone for example to worry needlessly that they have a more serious mental problem such as a psychosis when they are really just chronic worriers. This is not say that chronic worry is not a real problem, only that it is less serious compared to more severe conditions. Finally, I should point out that obviously not all or even most people in the "spiritual but not religious" category were actually mentally disordered, only that a higher percentage of them were affected compared to the other groups.
We as a whole, whole meaning, the entire human race, is at a pivotal point in our evolution. Every action, every thought, every choice is our vote as to whether or not we will survive. With that said, i truly believe that that both pleasant and unpleasant external conditions are factors which make for the ultimate good of the individual. Spiritual people go through hell is basically what i am trying to point out.
We've been through hell, we're going through hell, and we probably will still go through hell for a very long time, but, you cant truly enjoy silence unless it has been very noisy. Think of it like a phoenix, a beautiful flaming phoenix soaring high up in the air, beautiful, brilliant, like nothing ever seen before, unfuckingreal. When a phoenix is ready to move on you could say, it dies in a self created fire, where a new phoenix chick is born.
Thats where i believe many spiritual people are at this point in development, we are all phoenixes, creating our own fires from which we will die and be reborn as a new phoenix chick, ready to soar for another long and beautiful lifespan. As for the non religious, and the religious, they havent seen what we have seen, they havent been through what we have been through, theyre like red blood cells in a body, not exactly vital because of how many exist, but vital none the less.
I would like to point out Reiki is not a New Age practice--it has been in existence for about years and predates the New Age movement. Likewise, yoga is an ancient practice, although it is perhaps "new" to many of us in the West. As a gentle healing practice that helps create inner balance, Reiki can provide a support for clients who are also dealing with emotional issues in psychotherapy. In my own work I sometimes see clients who are coming to spiritual practice but are really looking for help with mental health issues.
I believe this is in part because mental health is still so heavily stigmatized in our culture. When I let them know that many people, even people engaging in spiritual or wellness practices like Reiki, are also doing so in conjunction with talk therapy, they are often open. I am also very clear that Reiki does not replace the need for psychological or medical help and I won't work with people that can't accept that. I find this to be a very interesting article and I'm looking forward to sharing it with my healing arts and therapist colleagues.
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The term "New Age" is somewhat hard to define, but seems to refer to a conglomeration of what are popularly referred to as "alternative" beliefs and treatments. I included the term because it was the subject of one of the articles I referenced. The authors of this study used a scale measuring "New Age" practices that was defined to include such things as Reiki and Yoga among other things that have been embraced by the advocates of New Age ideas. I realise some of these practices are quite old.
Astrology actually dates back thousands of years. People who said that they regularly engaged in such practices were also highly likely to endorse a range of beliefs and attitudes that have also become associated with the New Age movement, such as reincarnation, karma, and paranormal phenomena. Obviously, belief in such things is hardly new in itself. New Age adherents in this particular study also tended to score high in magical thinking. I appreciate that not all practitioners of Reiki, yoga and so on necessarily embrace New Age ideas in general or even wish to be seen as part of this movement.
I think that unless a study reveals a distinct and significant link between a variable and an outcome, it isn't worth mentioning.
I believe that some researchers just want to generate buzz to get attention and hopefully funding. I realize that you weren't claiming anything definitive was discovered, but still, as a professional, you should be filtering these insignificant results. I am not at all clear why you would consider this study to be "insignificant" and not worth reporting. What would you consider a "distinct and significant link"? Statistically the results were significant in the sense this term is used in the social sciences.
Moreover, the effects were far from trivial in size. For example, the authors reported that people in the "spiritual but not religious" category were 1. Hardly what I would call a "weak-link study". Even if the effects were much smaller I would still consider the results to be of interest. Furthermore, the study involved over participants so the results are hardly likely to be a fluke. I haven't explored the links you provided, yet, but did this study also include agnostics? Perhaps they were included with the atheist group but thought it worth asking. The categories used in the study were not fine-grained enough to distinguish between agnostics and atheists.
The non-religious were those who identified as having no religious or spiritual beliefs, so this could include agnostics as well as atheists. So we can't say if there are any mental health differences between the two. As another comment points out, there is simply a correlation between spirituality and poorer mental health - and correlation does not prove cause and effect.
This important fact is something I stressed with students when I taught Introductory Sociology, for it's a common mistake to assume one thing causes another when the two are correlated. Well, one reason for this might be that some of these people are actually talking to certain spiritual entities that the would be best avoiding.
I mean, on of the problem with whatever it is that the part of the noosphere? That's like wandering around shooting up heroin and then wondering why you feel worse and worse over time. I enjoyed reading your article and thought the information contained was very informative and interesting. I didn't read through all of the sources you provided, but based on the facts and opinions you provided in your article alone, I don't agree that this information supports the statement in the title: I feel that several important points were overlooked when you took the angle that you did in writing this.
In my opinion, some traits used to reflect poor mental health were unfairly applied only to those who are spiritual, when they could easily be also applied to those who are religious.
For example, you mentioned that characteristics such as magical thinking have been linked to a set of traits known as schizotypy, which in turn is associated with high levels of anxiety and depression. Based on the context of the article, I am assuming that PT's Alex Lickerman's definition of "magical thinking", 'believing that one event happens as a result of another without a plausible link of causation', applies to the magical thinking spoken of in your article.
I find it a little biased that "alternative" beliefs were lumped in with magical thinking e. I would be interested in knowing the content of the specific items used in determining levels of magical thinking in participants to see if they did not hold the same bias.
This bias, to me admitting my own speculation here , seems very prevalent in our society, where certain religions are considered culturally acceptable, and other belief systems, such as ones involving alternative ideas, are considered "out there". Could it be possible that part of the reason that those who believe alternative ideas have higher rates of mental illness, such as depression and anxiety, is because they may often be viewed as "crazy" or "weird" by society?
Self-fulfilling prophecies can be dangerous. Another point to think about is that some religions often frown upon the signs and symptoms of mental illness, sometimes viewing them as a disappointment to God, a sin, or simply a lack of faith. Could it be possible that there are some religious people who have gotten much practice at hiding their symptoms of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression because they did not want to be looked down upon by others in their respective religious communities? Maybe these people have even tricked themselves into believing that their symptoms don't exist at all which could be the result of never having acknowledged their own true feelings or having peers acknowledge them.
Maybe they never understood what the symptoms were in the first place due to lack of education.
I am not saying that every religious person with mental illness puts on a front, but I do believe that there are some, and maybe enough of them to make a difference in these studies. It's possible that spiritual people are more honest with themselves because they don't have as strict of a way of living as religious people do. Finally, you did sort of mention this in your article, but the definition of mental health used -is- problematic, possibly forming a contradiction or a paradox, depending on how you want to look at it. You say that "by most definitions, good mental health implies that a person has some purpose in life, is hopeful, socially connected and has peace and well-being.
To me, this level of happiness means that those who are spiritual are just as hopeful as anyone else and have a similar sense of peace and well-being, indicating some source of mental strength, despite the mental illness. I find it important to reiterate here that correlation does not equal causation this is one of the first thing psychology students learn. Spirituality does not necessarily cause mental illness. It is very possible that those who would have inevitably developed a mental illness in their lives due to biology or environmental issues unrelated to any belief system have found their way to spirituality for any number of reasons.
Maybe the alternative belief systems are the most welcoming and accepting of those with mental illness and other personality types which don't "fit the mold". Maybe those with mental illness find the most comfort from alternative forms of belief. Maybe there are less "churches" or buildings for the alternative forms of belief, so it is not as easy for those who hold alternative forms of belief to be "religious" as it was defined in this article.