03 September 2007

some shrinks don't believe in God


Shrinking religion

SURVEY | A third of psychiatrists do not believe in God -- so where does that leave religious patients?

September 3, 2007

A new survey has found that psychiatrists are much less religious than other doctors.

Decades after Sigmund Freud declared religion an "illusion," the rift between religion and psychiatry seems to be as wide as ever.

The survey found that 17 percent of psychiatrists have no religious affiliation, compared with 10 percent of other doctors.

One-third of psychiatrists do not believe in God and fewer than one-half believe in life after death. Only 29 percent attend religious services twice a month or more, compared with 47 percent of other doctors.

"Religious patients who prefer to see like-minded psychiatrists may have difficulty finding a match," University of Chicago researcher Dr. Farr Curlin and colleagues wrote in the journal Psychiatric Services.

Researchers asked non-psychiatrist doctors how they would refer a hypothetical patient who is deep in grief two months after the death of his wife. Religious doctors were more willing to refer patients to clergy members or religious counselors and less willing to refer to psychiatrists.

Researchers surveyed 1,144 doctors, including 100 psychiatrists. Twenty-nine percent of psychiatrists were Jewish, compared with 13 percent of other doctors.

Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, knocked religion. While psychiatrists have largely replaced Freud's talk therapy with drug therapy, Freud "remains a very dominant figure within psychiatry," said Dr. Harold G. Koenig, a Duke University psychiatrist and co-author of the study.

Religion is faith-based, while psychiatry is science-based. Some psychiatrists have expressed fears that religious influences might destabilize patients, Koenig said.

Koenig has heard anecdotal reports that as recently as the early 1990s, patients in at least one psychiatric ward were prohibited from having Bibles, and chaplains could not visit without a psychiatrist's permission.

Clergy as competition?

Some psychiatrists also might see the clergy as competition, Koenig said, although as many as 80 percent of patients with mental disorders could benefit by seeing clergy members.

Some studies have shown practicing religion can be good for your mental health. And in recent years, there has been a movement to merge psychiatry and religion. Christianpsychiatry.com connects patients to psychiatrists and other providers who believe prayer "can be a powerful adjunct to their treatment."

Despite such fledgling cooperation between religion and psychiatry, "the long-standing tension seems to be an enduring one," Curlin said.

I like this bit "Religion is faith-based, while psychiatry is science-based". Once upon a time scientists were deemed heretics, such as Galileo for thinking that the earth revolved around the sun.

Some religious fanatics don't believe in science (like Scientologists who don't believe in psychiatry), so why should psychiatrists and other scientists believe in God?

Monday. Another four more days to go before the weekend again.

1 comment:

Bogdan, the editor said...

I wonder if that article would have been written the same way if, say, it wasn't from an American newspaper. I doubt it would be.

There is no reason for psychiatrists to bring God into their work. In fact, I find that irritating. If I wanted someone to tell me "God will help you through it," I'd go to a church.