Religion And Mental Health.....

This has the potential to be a controversial post but if you've been reading me long then you know that I don't shy away from such posts. However, I don't mean to offend anyone with this post. Overall I'm just really curious about the subject. I'm not saying anything below is true or false because I don't know but I do find the subject fascinating.

I don't mean to belittle any particular religion. I'm just wondering about things. Probably thinking too much as I tend to do. So please forgive me in advance if I offend.

From time to time I contemplate the cross-roads between religion and mental health, two of my favorite subjects. As many of you know I live with a mental condition called Schizo-Affective disorder which is a combination of Bipolar type 1 and some symptoms of Schizophrenia. One of the things that is common amongst many mentally ill is a strong religious/spiritual connection yet often we are misunderstood (by some religions) as having "demons" possessing our minds.

This is a touchy subject but I've been wondering if some of the great spiritual leaders in history had mental health conditions/challenges. For example, was Jesus mentally ill? I don't mean to single him out but he is the one I'm most familiar with given I was raised Christian and spent 22 years as a Christian. I'm not saying that Jesus was indeed mentally ill but there are some intriguing connections. He saw visions, claimed to be able to talk with an invisible god and claimed to be the son of that god. In addition to believing that he had supernatural powers (we don't know if he did or did not have these gifts).

There was no understanding of mental illness in those days and therefore I can see why people would think that someone who claims to see visions and to be able talk to god would seem other-worldly, special and mystical since not all of the people showed those inclinations. And it makes sense that they would see those who were completely insane to be "possessed" for a lack of any other explanation for their behavior.

This all being said, even if Jesus and others had mental conditions doesn't mean that they were any less inspirational, amazing or transcendental. And having struggles with mental health doesn't preclude one from having a deep spiritual connection and as long as that spiritual connection is beneficial and not disruptive to one's sanity and safety then I think it's a gift. In fact some of the most spiritual people are those with mental health struggles because they are often more able to transcend the logical mind that holds us all hostage to some degree. Shamans for example are spiritual leaders of nature based religions who are initiated and receive special insights after surviving a personal psychological crisis.

As for the Buddha he seemed to be part psychologist as the religion that evolved from his teachings is one that is very beneficial to those suffering from mental conditions. It seems to be the religion that most addresses the mind and its formations. I guess that is why it is often called the "religion of psychology." However, the Buddha himself had some supernatural experiences that could be argued to have been hallucinations--who knows. Yet even if they were hallucinations it doesn't necessarily take away from their meaning and power.

This all being said, most religions have the potential to help those with mental struggles but there are some damaging teachings in certain religions that are still evident such as demonic possession. As well as teachings that people with mental illnesses have them because they are being punished for some perceived wrong doing. Or that it is a sign that they have a weak mind which is total ignorance because myself and many other mentally ill folks that I know have contemplated deep issues that many living on the surface haven't even considered let alone come to terms with such as death.

Anyway, just something I've been thinking about.


~Peace to all beings~
roots2life roots2life
46-50, M
2 Responses May 10, 2012

Sorry you feel that way but then everyone has their own beliefs, right?

I believe that if you're dig too deep into religion, it will drive you crazy. I try to live my life according to the Bible and that is enough for me and I heed to the warnings given.

I think the bible was just a bad written novel made uo by egotistic philanderer's sorry! You just been brain washed! Have a good life