In a finding that wouldn’t surprise many,
Researchers at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital have found that those who believe in a benevolent God tend to worry less and be more tolerant of life's uncertainties than those who believe in an indifferent or punishing God. – “Religious Beliefs Impact Levels of Worry” (ScienceDaily Aug. 5, 2011)
Here’s a welcome point:
"The implications of this paper for the field of psychiatry are that we have to take patients' spirituality more seriously than we do," Rosmarin said.
That means listening as well: To a religious person, guilt is an objective state, not a pathology. It’s no help to say, “You shouldn’t feel guilty …” A justifiable response from the patient would be
“How the hell do you know? I’m mainly interested in what God thinks.”
The paper reports data from two separate studies. One questioned 332 subjects solicited from religious web sites and religious organizations. It included Christians and Jews.
Also: Aged, infirm people can have surprising spiritual experiences.
The Spiritual Brain, written from the perspective of non-materialist neuroscience, discusses religion and mental health in some detail.
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Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.