Religious Beliefs, Evolutionary Psychiatry, and Mental Health in America

Evolutionary Threat Assessment Systems Theory

  • Kevin J. Flannelly

Part of the Religion, Spirituality and Health: A Social Scientific Approach book series (RELSPHE, volume 1)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Kevin J. Flannelly
    Pages 1-8
  3. The Origin of Evolutionary Ideas in Historical and Religious Context

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 9-9
    2. Kevin J. Flannelly
      Pages 19-27
  4. Charles Darwin’s Theories of Evolution and Reactions to Them

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 39-39
    2. Kevin J. Flannelly
      Pages 41-48
    3. Kevin J. Flannelly
      Pages 49-54
    4. Kevin J. Flannelly
      Pages 61-67
  5. Evolutionary Psychiatry

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 69-69
    2. Kevin J. Flannelly
      Pages 71-78
    3. Kevin J. Flannelly
      Pages 79-90
    4. Kevin J. Flannelly
      Pages 91-101
    5. Kevin J. Flannelly
      Pages 113-124
    6. Kevin J. Flannelly
      Pages 125-140
  6. Religious Beliefs and Mental Health

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 141-141

About this book


This book provides a new perspective on the association between religious beliefs and mental health. The book is divided into five parts, the first of which traces the development of theories of organic evolution in the cultural and religious context before Charles Darwin. Part II describes the major evolutionary theories that Darwin proposed in his three books on evolution, and the religious, sociological, and scientific reactions to his theories. Part III introduces the reader to the concept of evolutionary psychiatry. It discusses how different regions of the brain evolved over time, and explains that certain brain regions evolved to protect us from danger by assessing threats of harm in the environment, including other humans. Specifically, this part describes: how psychiatric symptoms that are commonly experienced by normal individuals during their everyday lives are the product of brain mechanisms that evolved to protect us from harm; the prevalence rate of psychiatric symptoms in the U.S. general population; how religious and other beliefs influence the brain mechanisms that underlie psychiatric symptoms; and the brain regions that are involved in different psychiatric disorders. Part IV presents the findings of U.S. studies demonstrating that positive beliefs about God and life-after-death, and belief in meaning-in-life and divine forgiveness have salutary associations with mental health, whereas negative beliefs about God and life-after-death, belief in the Devil and human evil, and doubts about one’s religious beliefs have pernicious associations with mental health. The last part of the book summarizes each section and recommends research on the brain mechanism underlying psychiatric symptoms, and the relationships among these brain mechanisms, religious beliefs, and mental health in the context of ETAS Theory.


Beliefs and Mental Health Darwinian Psychiatry Evolutionary Psychiatry Evolutionary Psychology Religion in America Religious Beliefs Religion and Mental Health Religion and Health Spirituality and Mental Health Spirituality and Health

Authors and affiliations

  • Kevin J. Flannelly
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Psychosocial ResearchMassapequaUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing AG 2017
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-52487-0
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-52488-7
  • About this book