Religious beliefs and worrying

A person's religious beliefs can have a bearing on how much they worry about certain situations, new research has suggested. Published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, the study found those who believe in a benevolent God often have less concerns than those who think God is indifferent or punishing.

Investigators at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital - established in 1811 - discovered people who think the higher being they believe in is charitable tend to worry less and are more tolerant of life's uncertainties.

They noted the findings should urge mental health professionals to take a person's religious beliefs into consideration whenever determining their treatment regimes.

David Rosmarin, Assistant in Psychology at McLean Hospital, said: "Most practitioners are unprepared to conceptualise how spiritual beliefs may contribute to affective states and thus many struggle to integrate such themes into treatment in a spiritually sensitive manner."

The investigation consisted of two separate studies - one focusing on Christians and the other considering Jews.

Chartered Psychologist Dr Dorothy Rowe commented: "There are as many kinds of religious beliefs as there are people to hold them. For me each of these beliefs falls into one of three groups.

"First, there are the beliefs that lead the person to feel guilty, in fact to become an expert in feeling guilty. The way to turn ordinary sadness into depression is to blame yourself for the disaster that has befallen you.

"Second, there are the beliefs that lead the person to feel that he or she is superior to those who do not share these beliefs. Such beliefs are dangerous because those who hold these beliefs feel that they are entitled to punish those who do not share their beliefs.

"Third, there are the beliefs that lead the holder of these beliefs neither to feel guilty nor to want to punish those who do not share these beliefs. Rather, those who hold these beliefs are humane people who enjoy courage and optimism." 

 

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