Religion, Spirituality, and Mental Health

  • James M. Nelson

The relationship between religion or spirituality and mental health has been a subject of intense interest. Most of the thousands of studies on the topic in both the psychological and religious literature take the position that there is an important connection between religious activities, mental health, and spiritual wellness. However, the nature and importance of the relationship remains a topic of contention (Hathaway & Pargament, 1990). Some authors like Freud have argued that the relationship is essentially negative, with religion representing a kind of psychological pathology. More recent work has often suggested that religion has a positive effect on mental health and that good mental health is an important prerequisite for spiritual development (e.g., Stoeber, 1994, p. 98). A third group of authors (e.g., Welch, 1996, p. 98) argues that while there are important connections between the two, they are also somewhat independent of each other so that a person might have a rich spiritual life while suffering from mental illness, or be psychologically healthy but have deep spiritual problems.


Mental Health Mental Health Treatment Religious Coping Religious Practice Mindfulness Meditation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • James M. Nelson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyValparaiso UniversityValparaisoUSA

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