This article reviews a number of studies investigating the relationship between religion and the variables of mental health and social behavior. Characteristics of religious health and pathology are examined, and a framework for clinical assessment and treatment of religious pathology is described. Tentative conclusions concerning the subject matter are drawn and limitations of the number and type of studies are outlined.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
“Nightmare in Jonestown,”Time Magazine, December 4, 1978.
Sanua, V., “Religion, Mental Health and Personality: A Review of Empirical Studies”,Am. J. Psychiatry, 1969,125, 1203–1213.
Cline, V. and Richards, J., “A Factor Analytic Study of Religious Beliefs and Behavior”,J. Pers. Soc. Psychology, 1965,1, 569–578.
Salisbury, W. S., “Religiosity, Regional Sub-culture and Social Behavior,”,J. Scientific Study of Religion, 1962,2, 94–101.
Campbell, E. O., and Pettigrew, T. F., “Racial and Moral Crisis: The Role of Little Rock Ministers,”Am. J. Sociology, 1959,64, 509–516.
Allport, G. W. and Kramer, B. M., “Some Roots of Prejudice”J. Psychology, 1946,22, 9–39; Adorno, T. W.,The Authoritarian Personality.New York, Harper, 1950.
Blum, S. B., and Mann, J. H., “The Effect of Religious Membership on Religious Prejudice”,J. Soc. Psychology, 1960,52, 97–101.
O'Reilly, C. T., and O'Reilly, R. J. “Religious Beliefs of Catholic College Students and Their Attitudes Towards Minorities”,J. Ab. Soc. Psychology, 1962,56, 3–8.
Allport, G. W., and Ross, J. M., “Personal Religious Orientation and Prejudice”,J. Pers. Soc. Psychology, 1967,5, 432–443.
Rokeach, M.,The Open and Closed Mind. New York, Basic Books, 1960.
Maranell, G. M., “An Examination of Some Religious and Political Attitude Correlates of Bigotry”,Social Forces, 1967,45, 356–362.
Weima, J., “Authoritarianism, Religious Conservatism, and Sociocentric Attitudes in Roman Catholic Groups”,Human Relations, 1965,18,231–239.
Friedrichs, R. W., “Christians and Residential Exclusion: An Empirical Study of a Northern Dilemma”,J. Social Issues, 1959,15, 14–23.
Thorndike, E. L., “American Cities and States”,Ann. N.Y. Academy of Sciences, 1939.39, 213–298.
Angell, R. C, “The Moral Integration of American Cities”,Am. J. Sociology, 1951, p. 57 (monograph).
Walters, O. S., “The Religious Background of 50 Alcoholics”,Quarterly J. Studies on Alcohol, 1957,18, 405–416.
Jessor, R., and Jessor, S.,Problem Drinking in Youth. Denver, University of Colorado, Pub. 144, Institute of Behavioral Science, 1973.
Globetti, G., and Windhem, G., “The Social Adjustment of High School Students and the Use of Beverage Alcohol,”Sociology Social Research, ST, 1967, 148–157.
Maddox, G. L., “High School Student Drinking Behavior: Incidential Information from Two National Surveys”,Quarterly J. Studies on Alcohol, 1964,25, 339–347.
—, “Drinking Prior to College”, In Maddox, G.,The Domesticated Drug: Drinking among Collegians. New Haven, Connecticut, College and University Press Service, Inc., 1970.
Scholl, M. E., and Becker, J., “A Comparison of the Religious Beliefs of Delinquent and Nondelinquent Protestant Adolescent Boys”,Religious, Ed., 1964,59, 250–253.
Albrecht, S.; Chadwick, B.; and Alcorn, D., “Religiosity and Deviance: Application of an Attitude-Behavior Contingent Model,”J. Scientific Study of Religion, 1977,16, 263–274.
Middleton, R., and Putney, S., “Religion, Normative Standards, and Behavior,”Sociometry, 1962,25, 141–152.
Argyle, M., and Beit-Hallahmi, B.,The Social Psychology of Religion. Boston, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975.
Dittes, J. E., “Psychology of Religion”, In Lindzey, G., and Aronson, E., eds.,The Handbook of Social Psychology (2nd Ed.), Reading, Mass., Addison-Wesley, 1969.
Dreger, R. M., “Some Personality Correlates of Religous Attitudes as Determined by Projective Techniques,”Psych. Monographs, 1952,66, No. 3.
Graff, R. W. and Ladd, C. E., “POI (Personality Orientation Inventory) Correlates of a Religious Commitment Inventory”,J. Clin. Psychology, 1971,27, 502–504.
Hjelle, L., “Relationship of a Measure of Self-actualization to Religious Participation”, J. Psychology, 1975,89, 179–182.
Maslow, A. H.,Toward a Psychology of Being. Princeton, Van Nostrand, 1962.
Stark, R., “Psychopathology and Religious Commitment”,Review of Religious Research, 1971,12, 165–175.
Srole, L.; Langner, T.; Michael, S. T.; Opler, M. K. and Rennie, T. A.,Mental Health in the Metropolis (Vol. I). New York, McGraw-Hill, 1962.
Lindenthal, J. L.; Myers, J. K.; Pepper, M. P.; and Stern, M. S., “Mental Status and Religious Behavior”,J. Scientific Study of Religion, 1970,9, 143–149.
Mobert, D. O., and Taves, M. J., “Church Participation and Adjustment in Old Age”. In Rose, A. M., and Peterson, W. A., eds.,Older People and Their Social World. Philadelphia, F. A. Davis, 1965.
Acuff, G., and Gorman, B. “Emeritus Professors: The Effect of Professional Activity and Religion on ‘Meaning’”,Soc. Quarterly, 1967,9, 112–115.
Burgess, J. H., and Wagner, R. L., “Religion as a Factor in Extrusion to Public Mental Hospitals”,J. Scientific Study of Religion, 1971,10, 237–240.
Argyle and Beit—Hallahmiop. cit..
Jahoda, M.,Current Concepts of Positive Mental Health. New York, Basic Books, 1958. Maslow, A. H.,The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. New York, Viking Press, 1971.
Strunk, O.,Mature Religion: A Psychological Study. New York, Abingdon Press, 1965.
Ibid.. p. 131.
Strunk offers a series of 15 questions by which one may measure maturity of his or der religion. (FromMature Religion: A Psychological Study by Otto Strunk. Copyright ∁ 1965 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.) I believe they are extremely valuable and hence am including them herein toto: In my religion: Is the relationship among beliefs, feelings, and actions a dynamic one? Or do I tend to departmentalize these factors into watertight and static compartments? Are the facts of depth and height fully appreciated by me? Or do I tend toward a shallow, superficial, one-dimensional religiosity? Is there a high degree of awareness of religious factors, including those which may rest on a level far below ordinary consciousness? Or am I content to “let well enough alone” and not dig for greater awareness? Am I able to tell others about my religious beliefs in terms which are clear enough to allow for effective communication? Or are my religious beliefs ambiguous and confused, making communication impossible? Have I examined, and am I eager to examine, my religious beliefs with the best critical processes of which I am capable? Or do I prefer to keep critical thought away from my most cherished beliefs? Are my religious beliefs comprehensive enough to embrace and find meaning in all of life's sufferings as well as its joys? Or are my religious beliefs geared to finding meaning in only a narrow and constricted area of life? Are my religious beliefs held to in a spirit of tentativeness, knowing that doubt is always theoretically possible? Or do I tend to an “all-or-nothing-at-all” or “my religion-right-or-wrong” stance? Am I convinced that there is an ideal power greater than mysell? Or do I believe that I am the only and ultimate power to be reckoned with? Are there times when I can sense that I have a friendly continuity with this ideal power? Or do I tend to feel completely isolated from this ideal power? Have I had, or am I in the process of having, peak experiences which are difficult to explain fully but which seem to be exceedingly real to me? Or is my religion devoid of deep experiences, existing completely in the area of the intellectual? Am I genuinely impressed and at times even awe-struck by life? Or am I cynically geared to life in a matter-of-fact way? Do I sense that I am a part of a larger world of relationship? Or am I content to exist in a day-to-day, narrow sort of provincialism? Do I sense my personal condition in this world as a finite one? Or do I act as if I am fully capable of controlling all that life throws at me? Do I feel a semblance of freedom and joy about myself and my condition in life? Or do I believe and act as if external forces in society have me and toss me about ruthlessly? Are all of my activities-including moral acts, my work, my various interpersonal relationships, including my love relationships-consistent with my religion? Or is there a great gap between my religion and my actions in life as a whole?
Anderson, G. C.,Your Religion: Neurotic or Healthy. Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1970.
Feinsilver, A.,In Search of Religious Maturity. Yellow Springs, Ohio, Antioch Press, 1960.
Roberts, D., “Health From the Standpoint of the Christian Faith”, In Maves, P., ed.,The Church and Mental Health. New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1953.
Oates, W.,Religious Factors in Mental Illness. New York, Association Press, 1955.
Rokeach, M.,The Three Christs of Ypsilanti. New York, Knopf, 1964.
Kiev, A., “Primitive Religious Rites and Behavior: Clinical Considerations”. In Pattison, E. M., ed.,Clinical Psychiatry and Religion. Boston, Little, Brown & Co., 1969.
Argyle and Beit—Hallahmi,op. cit.
Wilson, W., “Mental Health Benefits of Religious Salvation”,Dis. Nervous System, 1972,33, 382–386.
Srole et al.,op. cit.
Allison, J., “Adaptive Regression and Intense Religious Experiences”,J. Nerv. Mental Disease, 1967,145, 452–463.
Spellman, C. M.; Baskett, G. D.; and Byrene, D., “Manifest Anxiety as a Contributing Factor in Religious Conversion,”J. Consult. Clin. Psychology, 1971,36, 245–247.
Roberts, F. J., “Some Psychological Factors in Religious Conversion,”British J. Soc. Clin. Psychology, 1965,4, 185–187.
Salzman, L., “Types of Religious Conversion,”Pastoral Psychology, 1966,17, 8–20.
Bowers, M. “Psychotherapy of Religious Conflict,”, In Pattison, E. M., ed.,Clinical Psychiatry and Religion, op.cit.
Coyle, F., and Erdberg, P., “A Liberalizing Approach to Maladaptive Religious Hyper-religiosity,”Psychotherapy: Therapy, Research and Practice, 1969,6,140–142.
Warren, N., “Empirical Studies in the Psychology of Religion: An Assessment of the Period 1960–1970”. In Malony, H. N., ed.,Current Perspectives in the Psychology of Religion. Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, 1977.
Cline and Richards,op. cit.
Gill, J., “The Psychology of Religious Development”, In Pattison, E., ed.,Clinical Psychiatry and Religion, op. cit.