The Impact of Religion and Spirituality, Essay Example
Throughout history, we have seen many terminally ill patients make a rapid recovery as a result of inexplicable forces. Many of these patients claim that god or some other spiritual force aided their recovery, and we cannot discount the occasional necessity of religious belief for some patients; in a sense, belief in a higher power gives many terminally ill people hope that they will live, and this positive thinking aids recovery. However, it is important to note that religion and spirituality plays a very different role in mental health and psychiatric diagnoses. For example, some schizophrenics have religious delusions and it is difficult to tell whether spirituality is helping them or harming them. In addition, it is difficult to determine the specific role that religion plays in psychosis; are people who generally suffer from religious delusions religious before they show any symptoms of illness or does the feeling of a connecting with a greater power appear more rapidly at the time of diagnosis? Since many questions regarding the connection between religion and mental health are unknown, it is important to conduct a literature review of cases in mental health where religion was a major factor. This analysis will help us gain a greater understanding of the role that religion plays in psychosis and will allow both nurses and other health professionals to gain a greater understanding of the types of counseling necessary for these patients.
Studying the link between mental health and religion is necessary for the health care field because it will allow us to have a greater understanding of our mental health patients who seem to be having these delusions. Furthermore, it will aid our ability to make generalizations about patients with certain psychiatric disorders by using statistical analysis and observation. Important questions to consider when dealing with psychiatric patients is whether or not the patient is suffering from a religious delusion, whether the patient was religious before symptoms occurred or not, the type of religious delusion the patient is suffering, whether the delusion is harmful to the patients or others, and how the religious delusion is impacting the patient overall. Classification of religious delusions as related to mental health on this basis may allow nurses and doctors to draw helpful patterns and be able to predict the behavior of other patients. For example, if a patient has just been diagnosed with psychosis and is suffering these delusions, it may allow us to predict how he or she will act around others and if the psychosis will progress. This will allow early clinical interventions when possible to prevent the patient from hurting his or herself or others if they seem violent.
Despite the many studies that have been published in an attempt to explain the connection between mental health and psychiatric diagnosis, a majority of the studies that have been published are simply observational case studies rather than ones that involved the testing of a hypothesis. Therefore, there remains an extreme need to conduct useful research in this field; as a consequence, this analysis will discuss only the studies that are objective hypothesis driven evaluations and will propose and describe the need for future research on this topic. For this purpose, only patients with schizophrenia will be evaluated in order to determine the difference between people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia beyond doubt and those who are in a diagnostic grey area because of their extreme religious beliefs. It is essential to consider that some patients are being diagnosed based on their opinion rather than an attempt by healthcare professionals to understand their religious beliefs and reasoning behind these opinions. It is important to consider whether religion defines life for these people and whether they are making their choices based on their own free will, whether they were brainwashed by their religion, or whether they are actually a victim of psychosis. We must determine a way to distinguish these three very different types of people and treat them accordingly. We also must determine if it is proper to medicate people based on their religion or religious delusions and decide whether doing so would be harmful or helpful. Ultimately however, we must consider the possibility that some people that are being diagnosed with schizophrenia may be misdiagnosed; it is important to avoid misdiagnosis at all costs to avoid the social stigma and provision of medication that usually comes along with this mistake.
“Religion and Mental Health: Theory and Research” by Jeff Levin, provides an excellent overview of the research that has been conducted to analyze the connection between religion and mental health over the past few years (Levin, 2010). Ultimately, the connection between religion and mental well-being has been important since the development of Freudian psychology; although when Freud’s “The Future of an Illusion” and “Civilization and It’s Discontents” were published during a time period in which religion was considered highly relevant and almost necessary, Fraud considered religious practices and belief in god to be signs of “obsessive neurosis, narcissistic delusion, and an infantile life outlook (Levin, 2010). He therefore considered that people who believe in god were threats to both thought and society overall; people who had this belief in god were somehow more inept than others. Although Freud’s initial connection between religion and mental health was critical and doesn’t fit in with today’s understanding of mental psychosis, it is still important to note that he formed the possible connection between religious delusion and mental health. As this way of thinking evolved, William James noticed that there are two types of religious belief; religion of the sick soul and religion of the healthy minded soul. Religion of the sick soul is one that is comparable with psychosis in disorders such as schizophrenia, while religion of the healthy minded soul is considered to be normal levels of religious belief.
“The relationship between schizophrenia and religion and its implications for care” supports the belief that psychiatric research rarely focuses on the religious issue of this disorder, which is unfortunate because many who suffer from the illness experience some form of religion-related symptom (Mohr & Hugulet, 2004). They emphasize the importance of understanding this connection because people’s understanding of schizophrenia varies greatly across the world and has different relevance in certain cultures. For example, the article cites the Christian Swiss belief that people who suffer mental health problems do so because demons are possessing their bodies. In our culture, we believe that people who suffer from mental health problems do so because of chemical imbalances in the brain; however, it is difficult to prove this to people of other cultures without conducting more research on the topic. It is known, however, that religion usually has a negative impact on the morbidity of people with schizophrenia; on the other hand, religion has helped schizophrenics develop a greater sense of self and aided their recovery. Despite the predicted outcome of a schizophrenia patient by the healthcare professional, it is important to treat a patient’s religious beliefs with respect others beliefs and accept spiritual diversity. It is important for us to consider that, in some cases, religious therapy may be more useful to schizophrenic patients than medication.
Although objective research that connects schizophrenia and religion is rare, “Association of religion with delusions and hallucinations in the context of schizophrenia: Implications for engagement and adherence” does a good job of explaining how religiousness is associated with delusions, what the risk factors are for the association between religiousness and schizophrenia, and whether religion influences treatment of those diagnosed with schizophrenia (Gearing et al., 2010). This study found risks and protective factors involved with the association of schizophrenic hallucinations and delusions, although culture impacts this relationship. It was found that religious beliefs during the time of diagnosis have mixed results when it comes to medicating patients; this phenomena is variable based upon many different social factors. It is therefore important to conduct more research in this field to determine what social factors cause improper medication of patients based on their religious beliefs.
“Effect of religion on suicide attempts in outpatients with schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorders compared with inpatients with non-psychotic disorders” examines the relationship between religious psychosis and suicide (Huguelet, 2007). This was an effective study because it compared the suicide attempts of in-patients diagnosed with schizophrenia compared to other in-patients without psychotic symptoms; both groups were surveyed thoroughly about their religious beliefs and experiences. While 43% of schizophrenia patients reported they tried to commit suicide, religion was no associated with their reasons for doing so. In fact, in 20% of the cases, religion helped these people rehabilitate themselves and decide against suicide attempts in the future. This study demonstrates that people who are considered schizophrenic may harm themselves or others but not on the basis of religion. It is therefore important to conduct further studies on the topic to see if this relationship holds true; if this is the case, we must stop discrimination against people who have psychosis on the basis of religion and stop diagnosis healthy people as schizophrenic using this same basis.
A borderline case can be demonstrated by “Spirituality and Religious Practices Among Outpatients With Schizophrenia and Their Clinicians” (Huguelet, 2006). In this study, schizophrenic outpatients were interviewed concerning their religious beliefs and opinions about medication. While most patients reported that religion was important in their lives, only 36% of participants reported this information to their medical staff; in this situation, this information was particularly important for treatment because most patients believed that their religion prevented them from being able to take medication. It is important for clinicians to realize that religion is not necessarily associated with schizophrenic delusions in all patients and religion remains an important part of their lives regardless. A related case is the quality of life for schizophrenic patients; there is ultimately a decreased quality of life for many schizophrenic patients who use their medications. It is therefore important to take advantage of other types of therapy for them, such as counseling; however, we cannot discount religion as having an important therapeutic advantage for religious patients. A contrary case however, occurs occasionally, when schizophrenic patients hurt themselves or others as a result of their religious delusions. Occasionally, schizophrenic patients believe that they are god, Jesus, or a prophet, and have the right to control life; although these schizophrenic patients believe they’re doing the work of god, they are harming others and medication for this group of schizophrenic people may be more useful that other forms of therapy, religious or otherwise.
In conclusion, we are still taking the beginning steps necessary to determine the true relationship between religious delusion and schizophrenia. In many cases, medication does not help schizophrenics; rather, it worsens their conditions by adding unnecessary symptoms. It is unfortunate that schizophrenics are being criticized for their religious beliefs and non-schizophrenic people with extreme religious beliefs are being improperly diagnosed. One of the most concerning aspects of the confusion of religion as a symptom of schizophrenia is the fact that people who may not need medication are taking drugs anyway. Overall, medication may not be a useful mechanism to cure these patients as many have reported that their religious beliefs have helped them mentally stabilize. While it is currently difficult to draw any extensive conclusions about the association between religion and schizophrenia and other mental health issues, it is important to ensure that patients are properly diagnosed and are given the fair treatment they deserve despite their degree of religious affiliation.
Gearing RE, Alonzo D, Smolak A, McHugh K, Harmon S, Baldwin S.(2010). Association of religion with delusions and hallucinations in the context of schizophrenia: Implications for engagement and adherence. Schizophrenia Research. Retrieved from http://www.schres-journal.com/article/S0920-9964(10)01634-8/abstract
Hugulet P, Mohr S, Jung V, Gillieron C, Brandt P, Borras L. (2006). Spirituality and Religious Practices Among Outpatients With Schizophrenia and Their Clinicians. Psychiatric Services. Retrieved from http://ps.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleID=91318
Hugulet P, Mohr S, Jung V, Gillieron C, Brandt P, Borras L. (2007). Effect of religion on suicide attempts in outpatients with schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorders compared with inpatients with non-psychotic disorders. European Psychaitry. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924933806001337
Levin, J. (2010). Religion and Mental Health: Theory and Research. International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies. Retrieved from http://www.baylorisr.org/wpcontent/uploads/levin_religion_mental_health.pdf
Mohr S, Hugulet P. (2004). The relationship between schizophrenia and religion and its implications for care.Swiss Med Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15340880
Time is precious
don’t waste it!