What do people look for in religion

The best defense against overuse of alcohol was modeling disciplined drinking habits by the religion. This was found because different denominations had different rates of alcoholism Jews the lowest, Catholics the highest, and Protestants somewhere in-between , and that even in conservative Protestant homes, there were found some higher rates of alcoholism, so some concluded that the religious tradition had more impact than the home.

Gartner's findings demonstrated mixed result in regard to anxiety. Some research showed greater anxiety with religiosity, while other research showed less anxiety. Some people were less anxious and showed less somatic symptoms with public religious activities, yet more so with private devotions.

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Intrinsic religion was associated with lower anxiety, while higher levels were found with extrinsic religion. There was also mixed results on death anxiety and religiosity.


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Of the controversial findings on self-esteem, one study found that loving portrayals of God were positively correlated with higher self-esteem, and negatively correlated with God portrayed as vindictive and punitive. If a Hindu dies in Kashi Varanasi then it is believed that he goes directly to heaven. The mixed results may be from confusion between humans as sinful, as held by conservative Christians, which might result in a misdefinition of what self-esteem is. The literature on sexual disorders showed that more male clients in sex therapy were from religious homes.

A replication failed to find this.

Some research has looked at denomination and sex, but little research has included the variable religion or religious commitment. Several studies have found a weak positive correlation with education, others found a negative correlation. Early findings found that there was more prejudice from religious people. More recent studies have suggested a curvilinear relationship between prejudice and church attendance; so that those who attended church often and those who never attended were less prejudiced than those who attended infrequently.

Intrinsic religiosity was negatively correlated with prejudice, as was religious commitment.

Extrinsic religiosity has been found to have a positive correlation with prejudice. Although there are plethora of studies reporting relationships between religious involvement and mental health, they rarely investigated the potential mediators of this relationship. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the influence of religion on human health. Several illnesses are related to behavior and lifestyle. The way we eat, drink, drive our automobile, have sex, smoke, use drugs, follow medical prescriptions, exam ourselves for prevention have important influences in our health.

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Most religions prescribe or prohibit behaviors that may impact health. The biblical teachings, years ago, about diet, ways to handle food, cleaning and purity, circumcision, sexual behavior were important for preventing disease. Today other illnesses are more relevant. Prescriptions about keeping a day of rest, the body as a sacred temple, monogamous sex, moderation on eating and drinking, peaceful relationships are doctrines that might be also helpful for contemporary health problems related to stress, competition, individualism, narcissism, anger, shame etc.

A good clinical example trying to apply those teachings was the research of Thoresen et al. Certain religious practices are responsible for health hazards and risks.

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8 Reasons People Embrace Religion

Visits to a holy shrine on specific times can enhance the risk of accidents. Prohibition of vaccines, medication or blood transfusion, endogamous marriages, violence against unbelievers, handling of poisonous snakes, the way dead bodies are handled are other examples of behaviors that can bring health problems. Belonging to a group brings psychosocial support that can promote health. Religion might provide social cohesion, the sense of belonging to a caring group, continuity in relationships with friends and family and other support groups.

Social support can influence health by facilitating adherence to health promotion programs, offering fellowship in times of stress, suffering and sorrow, diminishing the impact of anxiety and other emotions and anomie. Social support, although important, is not the only mechanism by which religion influences health. Religion still has beneficial effects even when social support is a controlled variable. Beliefs and cognitive processes influence how people deal with stress, suffering and life problems.

Religious beliefs can provide support through the following ways: Enhancing acceptance, endurance and resilience. They generate peace, self-confidence, purpose, forgiveness to the individuals own failures, self-giving and positive self-image. On the other hand, they can bring guilt, doubts, anxiety and depression through an enhanced self-criticism. Locus of control is an expression that arises from the social learning theory and tries to understand why people deal in different ways even when facing the same problem.

Why some actively act and others stay in despondency. An internal locus of control is usually associated with well-being, and an external one with depression and anxiety. A religious belief can favor an internal locus of control with impact on mental-health.

Many patients use religion to cope with medical and non-medical problems. The study of religious coping, which can be positive or negative, has emerged as a promising research field. Positive religious coping has been associated with good health outcomes, and negative religious coping with the opposite. Religious patients tend to use more positive than negative religious coping.

Negative religious coping includes passive waiting for God to control the situation, redefining the stressor as a punishment from God or as an act of the devil and questioning God's love. Public and private religious practices can help to maintain mental health and prevent mental diseases. They help to cope with anxiety, fears, frustration, anger, anomie, inferiority feelings, despondency and isolation.

The most commonly studied religious practice is meditation. It has been reported that it can produce changes in personality, reduce tension and anxiety, diminish self-blame, stabilize emotional ups and downs, and improve self-knowledge.

What can you do with a theology degree? | Times Higher Education (THE)

Improvement in panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, insomnia, drug use, stress, chronic pain and other health problems have been reported. Follow-up studies have documented the effectiveness of these techniques. Other religious practices such as personal prayer, confession, forgiveness, exorcism, liturgy, blessings and altered states of consciousness ; may also be effective, but more studies are necessary.

In Muslim patients during days of fasting Roza they have to readjust the dose of medications so that it will prevent relapse. Spiritual direction is described as a special relationship between two human beings to help the development of the spiritual-self. Its aims are to develop a relationship with God, to find meaning in life, and to promote personal growth.

Several religious and psychological techniques may be used, and great similarities with psychotherapy can be found, as the same themes are discussed. The psychotherapy and its Indian adaptation are discussed in different article elsewhere. In times of stress and social disorganization certain religious rituals by means of techniques that elicit altered states of consciousness, can produce catharsis, dissociative states and a special milieu to express problems and suffering.

Religion For Dummies

Religion is a multidimensional phenomenon and no single fact can explain its actions and consequences. The combination of beliefs, behaviors and environment promoted by the religious involvement probably act altogether to determine the religious effects on health. However, empirical studies have had limited success in accounting for the psychosocial mechanisms described above for the health-promoting effects of the religious involvement.

The explanation of the mechanisms by which religion affects health has been an intellectually and methodologically challenging enterprise.


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  • The importance of the relationship between religion and mental health is recognized exists. Patients do have spiritual needs that should be identified and addressed, but psychiatrists and other mental health professionals do not feel comfortable tackling these issues. Adequate training is necessary to integrate spirituality into clinical practice. In the presence of psychopathology, religion may be part of it, contributing to the symptoms obsessions or delusions for example.

    Sometimes, religion may become rigid and inflexible, and be associated with magical thinking and resistance. It may hinder treatment if it forbids psychotherapy or the use of medication. It has been described the elements of a functional theology, present in all religions, which may promote good mental health.

    They are: Awareness of God, acceptance of the grace and love of God, repentance and social responsibility, faith and trust, involvement in organized religion, fellowship, ethic, and tolerance and openness to the experiences of others. During assessment, the psychiatrist should be able to determine whether the religion in the life of his patient is important, has a special meaning, is active or inactive, involves values in accordance to his main tradition, is useful or harmful, and promotes autonomy, personal growth, good self-image and interpersonal relationships.

    Koenig recommendations go beyond listening and respect, appropriate referral, and support of spiritual needs. A brief spiritual history is necessary to become familiar to the patients religious beliefs as they relate to decisions about medical care, understanding the role religion plays in coping with illness or causing stress, and identifying spiritual needs that may require assistance.

    Four basic areas should be remembered when taking a spiritual history:[ 3 ]. Does the patient use religion or spirituality to help cope with illness or is it a source of stress, and how? Religious beliefs and practices are often contributory to the development of certain psychiatric disorders more so as regards to obsessions, anxiety and depression. Somehow, this aspect of psychopathology has not been given due consideration. For instance, Freud observed remarkable similarity between obsessive behavior patterns and religious practices in view of their fixed, stereotyped and rigid character, their being meaningless and the anxiety that follows when specific action is not properly performed.

    Religion provides mechanisms for both intensifying guilt as well as alleviating it. Religion often creates guilt by setting high moral standards while, on the other hand, it also provides a number of methods of alleviating guilt such as confession, prayer, charity etc. In spite of the presence of almost all religions in India for centuries, Hinduism continues to be the predominant religion.

    To an outsider Hinduism continues to present bewildering arrays of beliefs, customs, and code of conduct, which are often mutually contradictory. To understand Hinduism is to understand India because in Hinduism lies the history of this subcontinent for the last years. In early Aryan religion, there is mention of many natural deities like sun, fire and lightning and perhaps there were no idols and worship was in open.

    Rig Veda also gives some account of religious hymns. Present Hinduism is a queer mix of various influences of past and present. No religion exists with such open contraindications and also so openly accepted. Every Hindu accepts this paradox easily and quite happily.

    Chapter 1: Importance of Religion and Religious Beliefs