Please forgive me for that awful headline. If you can, it might improve your mental health. Here’s the real title of this article:
Does Religion Help or Hinder Mental Health?
According to two articles that showed up in my news feed last week, it depends on whether it’s good religion or bad religion. (That headline, for instance, might have cost us both a few points on the sanity scale.)
The first article describes disastrous consequences of a movement called “biblical counseling” that rejects psychotherapy and psychotropic medication in favor of counselors giving clients (or parishioners) strong moral admonitions drawn from the Bible. The second article summarizes a study that demonstrated a strong correlation between forgiveness and mental health.
For those of us who evaluate a course of therapy based on results, the “biblical counseling” that rejects both medication and psychotherapy fails miserably. The worst examples include programs to “pray away the gay,” and biblical counselors who admonish women to obey their husbands more completely in order to avoid getting physically and emotionally abused. Using the Bible as a weapon against scientific facts and the autonomy of women puts the one who wields it on the side of destruction.
At the same time, psychotherapy without values can also become destructive.
For instance, a company noticed that its sales managers, required to travel away from their families frequently and work long hours Continue reading