Saturday, 4 May 2013

God and mental health

I was reading an article from the Journal of religion and health about the effect of belief in god and mental health.
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10943-013-9712-3
http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2013/04/belief-in-punitive-god-associated-with-poor-mental-health.html

This article is great news in so much that it is showing that belief in a gods can negatively effect mental health. However, there are some things we should be aware of and I wish to highlight them here.

1) This study deals with a person own belief about their god, or in other words the way a person perceives god. That is if a person perceives god as benevolent, then they are not going to have any negative mental effects. However if the perceives go as and angry (wrathful) god then they are more likely to suffer some form of mental illness.

2) It should be noted that mental illness in these categories can be either general anxiety, social anxiety, paranoia, obsession or compulsion. Now these results do show the same trend as with some other studies, which show an angry got can lead to depression, but this is not what is reported in this study.

3) Although the sample size was big, there are still issues that need to be considered as the sample size is still not big enough to represent the whole population. Additionally the questions in the study may have not been as discerning in a determination of what is benevolent or angry.

So we can learn something from this study, but lets not get ahead of ourselves and start telling people that religion is bad for your mental health and studies have shown this. More data is needed and hopefully soon we can show what we have known all along.