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New study reveals the 'spiritual-but-not-religious' have higher risk of mental problems

New study reveals the 'spiritual-but-not-religious' have higher risk of mental problems

The British Journal of Psychiatry featured research by University College Professor Michael King and other scientists that suggest those who claim to be ‘spiritual,’ but not religious are more apt to have problems coping over those who adhere to mainstream religions and those who hold no religious beliefs, at all.

The report stated that the spiritual/not religious demographic is more prone to phobias, neuroses and anxiety/eating disorders, as well as problems with drus. The report also reveals that this group is more likely to be on medication for mental health problems.

Professor King wrote,

"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."

The study revealed that 35% said they were religious and attended a house of worship regularly. The percentage of those who stated they weren't religious or spiritual came in at 46%. Nineteen percent identified as spiritual, but not religious.

Out of the group of spiritual/non-religious, more than three quarters of them were more apt to be on mental health medications, and slightly less were apt to have a phobia. Half were more likely to suffer from some sort of anxiety. Other figures include approximately forty percent using psychotropic drugs, and slightly less presenting an increased risk of neuroses.

The report concludes with:

"We conclude that there is increasing evidence that people who profess spiritual beliefs in the absence of a religious framework are more vulnerable to mental disorder.

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

The study included 7,403 randomly selected people in the United Kingdom. These subjects were questioned about their religious beliefs and the condition of their mental health.

 

About Al Stefanelli

Al is a retired author, writer and journalist. His books include "Free Thoughts - A Collection Of Essays By An American Atheist" and "A Voice Of Reason In An Unreasonable World - The Rise Of Atheism On Planet Earth." Al began writing in 1985, starting with the New York Times. In 1993 he joined a McClatchy newspaper, writing a weekly column for ten years. His writing continues to be widely distributed on the Internet and in print. He also produced and hosted a weekly syndicated radio broadcast from 1995 to 1998, and his work won a North Carolina Journalism award in 1998. Al is the former Georgia State Director for American Atheists, Inc., and served on the Board of Directors for "The Clergy Project." He is also a former Southern Baptist Pastor, having served two churches and as pulpit supply for three counties. Currently, he writes part time for The God Discussion, co-hosts the Internet radio programs, "The God Discussion Show" and "Reap Sow Radio." Al lives in the Atlanta suburb of Peachtree City, GA.
  • Sheri

    I couldn't agree with this more. Falling into that category myself (spiritual but not religious) I find that trying to forge our own beliefs and our own path through life, rather than having it dictated by some religious leader, makes those of us in the spiritual or metaphysical field feel like we are going a little crazy. it's a very common complaint. But if we can find a way to also remain grounded in reality (which I try very hard to do) the spiritual (not religious) life opens us up to a magnificent world of energy that for most people simply goes unnoticed. But it's not for everyone. Those who are called empaths can pick up on the energy of other people, whether they know it or not. And if they aren't aware that that's what's happening, it will feel more like they are on a roller coaster ride of emotions and it can literally drive people insane. That's why it's important to learn to understand the difference between which thoughts and emotions are coming from ourselves, and what we are picking up externally. Those who don't know the difference are more likely to turn to drugs to try and stop the feelings that come with being a sensitive empath.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1459204489 Michael Antony Subia

      "But if we can find a way to also remain grounded in reality (which I try
      very hard to do) the spiritual (not religious) life opens us up to a
      magnificent world of energy"

      This sentence is a contradiction. One cannot remain grounded in reality while adhering to unsubstantiated supernatural beliefs that cater to one's own wishful thinking. That being said, I wish you good health.

      • Sheri

        Michael, all life is energy vibrating at different frequencies. Some people can sense certain frequencies that others can't. The more in tune we become to the differences in subtle vibration, the more we can understand the energetic world around us. My statement wasn't contradictory at all. i wish you good health as well.

        • Guest

          The most reliable method we humans have at discovering and testing truths to date is the scientific method and peer review. There isn't a single empath or expert in the field of your energy-woo claims who is respected in the scientific community. You're basically claiming 2 + 2 = something more than 4. Your claims are not to be taken seriously until evidence is brought forth supporting your claim.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1459204489 Michael Antony Subia

          The most reliable method we humans have at discovering and testing
          truths to date is the scientific method and peer review. Your claims are not backed up by the scientific method. They are only backed up hearsay. You're basically claiming 2 + 2 =
          something more than 4. Your claims are not to be taken seriously until
          evidence is brought forth supporting your claim. What's your evidence and has it been tested by the scientific method?

  • Deborah_B

    I am going to have to read the whole report before submitting a meaningful comment, but I do have a couple of observations that I'll be looking for answers to in the report.

    The first is that the religious tend to shun psychology and any mental illness is either ignored because it is "wicked" or accredited to demons. As far as I am concerned, mental illness is just like a stomach ailment. Whether it's caused by a chemical imbalance, trauma or genetics, it is unfortunate that society as a whole seems to consider it a character flaw for people to seek mental help.

    The second thing I would look for is if there is anything about causation. Did the illness cause the belief or vice versa?

    Finally, was this all self-reported: "The study included 7,403 randomly selected people in the United Kingdom. These subjects were questioned about their religious beliefs and the condition of their mental health." One of the mental health areas discussed in the article is drug abuse … seriously, how many people honestly answer that they are using drugs?

    Perhaps the "spiritual but not religious" are simply a bit more honest; but like I said, I'll need to read the report.

    • Sheri

      Well said, Deborah. Denial seems to be a great tool of the religious right, and therefor, doesn't take into account the superficial existence that so many fall into simply because to explore deeper truths would literally drive them insane. Ignorance is bliss they say.

    • Peter

      And how many mentally ill people think they're mentally ill?

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