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Study: Belief in an angry God associated with variety of mental illnesses

People who believe in an angry, punishing God are much more likely to suffer from a variety of mental illnesses, a scientific study published in the April edition of Journal of Religion & Health finds.

The study, conducted by Marymount Manhattan College Assistant Psychology Professor Nava Silton, used data from the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey of US Adults to examine the links between beliefs and anxiety disorders like social dysfunction, paranoia, obsession and compulsion.

To do this, Silton viewed the data through the lens of what’s called Evolutionary Threat Assessment System Theory, which posits that parts of the brain specifically evolved to detect threats, and suggests that many anxiety disorders may be a result of dysfunction in the brain’s perception of those threats.

In keeping with prior studies on this very subject, she queried the data on three types of believers: those who see God as angry, those who see God as neutral and those who see God as loving. Controlling specifically to weed out the non-believers, Silton found that a belief in a forgiving, loving God is associated with positive psychological traits, “almost protecting against psychopathology,” she told Raw Story.

But for those who think God is angry and preparing punishments for sinners, “that belief seems to be very much related to these negative symptoms,” Silton said.

“If you look at the previous research, they’ve connected it to depression and all sorts of other psychiatric disorders,” she said. “We were looking at social phobia, obsession, compulsion, paranoia and a lot of features of anxiety disorders.”

One thing Silton stressed is that her study should not be construed to have found a cause for such symptoms. “We are not looking at casual findings here,” she said. “We are looking at correlational findings. That means we’re not saying belief caused psychiatric symptoms, but we see relationships between beliefs and these psychiatric symptoms.”

Silton said that while her study was mostly quantitative in nature, she’s looking forward to “asking more qualitative questions” in future work, specifically “to look into what else belief systems might be related to.”

“We’d like to look more specifically at depression and eating disorders,” she said. “Do different beliefs in God relate to eating disorder symptoms? So, [we want to be] looking beyond just anxiety disorders.”

by Anonymousreply 1504/20/2013


by Anonymousreply 104/18/2013

Makes sense to me.

by Anonymousreply 204/18/2013

I always assumed Pat Robertson really racked his brain to come up with half the shit he says. Now I see that his brain belongs on a rack.

by Anonymousreply 304/18/2013

All you have to do is look to the Phelpseses, Michelle Bachmann, Bill Donahue and the rest of the Christian Taliban for proof.

by Anonymousreply 404/18/2013

This is just as surprising as the outing of yet another homophobic evangelical preacher in 3...2...1...

by Anonymousreply 504/19/2013

Knowing the Christians I know, I'd say even believe in an all knowing, all loving god is associated with mental illness.

by Anonymousreply 604/19/2013


by Anonymousreply 704/19/2013

I had a friend who became born again when she married into a super Christian family. She and her husband raised their son to be an upstanding god-fearing Christian, and he was a well-behaved, if a bit sensitive child, but apparently he lived in constant fear of God's wrath for any minor transgression. By 10 he was on anti-anxiety meds and at 13 he had his first full-blown nervous breakdown. The poor kid had to be hospitalized because he kept rambling on about being possessed by Satan and God casting him down to the pits of hell. The boy's father believed their son would be cured through the power of prayer, but my friend was beginning to think that perhaps their fire and brimstone religiosity was to blame. Ya think? The boy's younger sister seems to have come through all of this unscathed, but who knows what sorts of havoc she'll wreak once she has kids of her own to destroy.

by Anonymousreply 804/20/2013

This explains so much.

by Anonymousreply 904/20/2013

Any belief in any sky fairies is mentally ill. People are usually so rational and boring in real life. But in the religion category, they're willing to accept any manner of bizarro fables.

When will it end? When will people stop believing in life after death?

I bow my head in shame.

by Anonymousreply 1004/20/2013

Believing in all that God and Jesus crap is the adult version of having an imaginary friend in childhood. It is definitely a sign of some inability to cope with real life and in adulthood a clear sign of mental illness.

by Anonymousreply 1104/20/2013

I highly doubt that people who believe in god, whether loving or not, are predisposed to psychological defects. More likely, those who, for whatever reason, are unable to conform to god's expectations develop psychological issues. Those who don't conform tend to be intellectually curious, and studies have showed that intelligent people are more prone to psychological problems vs. people of average or below average intelligence.

by Anonymousreply 1204/20/2013

[quote]studies have showed

Is "Oh, Dear" spelling-only?

by Anonymousreply 1304/20/2013

[quote]More likely, those who, for whatever reason, are unable to conform to god's expectations develop psychological issues.

Oh, brother.

by Anonymousreply 1404/20/2013

Spoken like a real flat-earth type, R10.

by Anonymousreply 1504/20/2013
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