Is strong faith or belief in religion or "God" a mental disorder?

by kpop 8 Replies latest jw friends

  • kpop

    It is a most interesting study. When one studies anthropology, one can see how the "need" for belief in a higher being evolved from early man. And it served a purpose. But now in the year 2017, do we really need to believe in fairy tales anymore? Can we classify being very religious as having a form of mental disorder?

    The answer to my first question is yes, we still need religion. Religion serves to provide a crutch for the mentally deficient and without that I think many more people would be doing crazy things. For example Putin. Putin has made Russian orthodoxy the official state religion. He saw the consequences of his people not having a belief in God can do. Putin is actually a genius. I am not saying this because he is using religion as a tool to unite his people but because he really is. I read some years ago that he is a master chess players and his IQ is 160+. But I would like to give him one big compliment for something else -- seeing the JW as a cult and banning it. I hope he succeeds.

    To answer the second question, it is complicated. Perhaps it would be better to say that belief in God is like a vestigial organ -- necessary many eons ago but no longer needed today and thus anyone who breaks free from religion and the need to believe in something is at a higher state of evolution and intelligence.

  • OneEyedJoe

    I'm not even sure that religion was ever really necessary. There's a fair bit of evidence that the impetus behind humans transitioning from a nomadic culture to building larger societies was the need for agriculture to support the production of a newly discovered beverage - beer. Alcohol has always been far more useful than god.

  • Village Idiot
    Village Idiot

    Ancient humans such as Homo Sapiens had cave paintings that modern day anthropologists interpret as having religious significance. They didn't necessarily believed in a "higher power". They basically worshipped what they ate. That is a religion worth having compared to the ones we have now.

    It was later in our history, when we became civilized, that our religions would have undergone a significant change. Society became authoritarian with dictators running our life. We went from worshipping what we ate to worshipping what eats us namely sentient cosmic entities (gods) who were projections of the tyrannical nature of societies rulers.

    We need a new religion, one based on what we know of the universe. Carl Sagan, of the memorable Cosmos series, thought that science might want to use the power of religious sentiments that would lead us into worshipping the Universe. A form of cosmic pantheism.

    I agree with Sagan. Instead of despising religion and disparaging those who are religious we should change the very structure of religion into something useful.

    Long live the Cosmos!

  • Mad Irishman
    Mad Irishman

    Karl Marx said that "religion is the opium of the masses," and Vladimir Putin, who is no genius, just worships anything Marx has to say. Putin has taken most rights and freedoms away from Russians, so I wouldn't work myself up into a lather to praise the guy. The second he gets the chance to take away your freedoms he will.

    Saying someone who believes in a religion must have a mental disorder is no different than those same people who are religious saying that someone who doesn't have a religion has a mental disorder. It's an easy way out that takes no thought into consideration; and it is really cowardly when someone tries to denigrate something they loath by insulting it instead of trying to understand the complicated mechanisms that make up all of humanity.

    Just because we may think something is so doesn't make it right.

  • scratchme1010

    It is a most interesting study. When one studies anthropology, one can see how the "need" for belief in a higher being evolved from early man. And it served a purpose. But now in the year 2017, do we really need to believe in fairy tales anymore? Can we classify being very religious as having a form of mental disorder?

    First, love your name because i love Kpop. Anyway, the first impression that I got from your post was why are you asking questions and answering them too? Then I read the entire post. I agree to some degree in what you posted about the second question, especially in the sense that there isn't neither easy nor simple answers.

    I can see how religion can attract people with mental health problems, not intentionally (in essence). When you look at many religious organizations, they all love bragging about how well people's lives become after they join them. Of course that's going to be appealing at people who are suffering. In similar manner, it's not just the message, but also the way it is delivered that tend to attract people with mental health issues. So no, it's not religion itself.

    Additionally, religious people who display signs of not being all there are one thing, religion is another different one. It's evident that the same manifestations from people with mental problems are seen in other entities that are not religious. Furthermore, when you look at religion as part of culture (there are many cultures that go to church and practice religion just because that's what they do), you cannot tell that those people have any kind of mental health problems.

    Finally, they may not be that visible, but there are well balance, functional people of faith who are religious and there's nothing wrong with them. They do exist, and they are not one or two people.

    I wouldn't say a person has a mental health issue simply because (s)he is religious. That's a little too vague and general. religion, just like everything else, can be misused and abused.

  • mikeflood

    Faith has healing powers....outside religion, some kind of benevolent...or indifferent Supreme Being should exist out there.. I still pray for example..

  • tepidpoultry

    Religious rituals such as prayer have been shown to significantly increase

    levels of the neurotransmitter Dopamine among other things,

    This is analogous to the effects of a number of mood altering drugs


  • OrphanCrow

    Article from Scientific American:

    How Do You Distinguish between Religious Fervor and Mental Illness?

    It's not meant as insult to believers; the two states of mind can share many similar characteristics

    By Nathaniel P. Morris on December 22, 2016

    Last year, a news column circulated the web, announcing the American Psychological Association had decided to classify strong religious beliefs as mental illness. According to the article, a five-year study by the APA concluded that devout belief in a deity could hinder “one’s ability to make conscientious decisions about common sense matters.” Refusals by Jehovah’s Witnesses to accept life-saving treatments, such as blood transfusions, were given as an example.

    Of course, this turned out to be a fake news story. But it still drew legitimate media coverage and outrage from readers. Fact-checking websites like Snopes had to point out the column was satirical.

    To many, this was a ridiculous stunt. But for me, a physician specializing in mental health, the satire hits home in many ways. My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness.

    Part of this is because the classification of mental illness often relies on subjective criteria. We can’t diagnose many mental health conditions with brain scans or blood tests. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us.

    Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia.

    But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues? If he could hear Jesus speaking to him? He might also insist nothing were wrong with him. After all, he’s practicing his faith.

    It’s not just the ambiguities of mental health diagnoses that create this problem—the vague nature of how we define religion further complicates matters. For example, the Church of Scientology argued with the Internal Revenue Service for years to be classified as a charitable religious organization and to qualify for tax-exempt status. The Church eventually won this battle in 1993, a major step towards becoming a mainstream American religion.

    According to Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright, Scientologists believe in alien spirits inhabiting human bodies. Many believe they have special powers, like telekinesis and telepathy.

    This puts mental health professionals in a tricky, cultural bind. Before 1993, should mental health professionals have treated patients expressing these beliefs as psychotic? After 1993, as faithful adherents?

    *read full article at link

  • Vidiot
    "How do you distinguish between religious fervor and mental illness?"

    Meds. :smirk:

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