Religion and Mental Health

Jesper Noer,
© Jesper Noer,

How do mental heath professionals understand their patients’ religious beliefs? This was the question that Professor Simon Dein asked at a seminar at the Faraday Institute this week. Dein is a consultant psychiatrist, lecturer in anthropology and medicine, and founding editor of the journal Mental Health, Religion and Culture.

Dein comes from a Jewish background. He is comfortable talking about religion, and interested in its effects on mental health. He has worked for many years with patients from a variety of faith backgrounds (Jewish, Christian, Muslim and others), and has found that a clinical method that recognises a patient’s beliefs is far more effective than a secular approach.

As a clinician, Dein didn’t make any comment on whether he thought any of his patients’ beliefs were true or not. He was honest about the fact that he doesn’t believe in God Continue reading

Wired for belief

I just listened to a lecture on ‘Apparitions, Alien Abductions and Hearing the Voice of God’ by Glynn Harrison, a Christian psychiatrist from Bristol University. His take on spiritual experience is similar to that of the psychologist  Justin Barrett, who works on childhood belief at Oxford, but he spends a bit longer explaining the application of the scientific knowledge from a Christian point of view. Continue reading