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Question about Recovery

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Mike77

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Hi all,

Is incorporation of spirituality and/or belief in God a good thing or a dangerous thing for mental health recovery? Does anyone know what the scientific literature states on this? Do you have any experiences and/or wisdom for me on this?

I am open to all advice/suggestions you have to offer! Thank you in advance,

mike
 
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Quickduck

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My feelings on this are, it depends. Good intelligent religion or spirituality can help, as can becoming part of a religious community; but bad spirituality (there is some) can be harmful, as can becoming obsessed with spirituality to the exclusion of all else. I would also say that incorporation of spirituality and/or belief in God can only work for those who already have such a belief; to try and impose such a belief, however well intentioned would be detrimental if it wasn't part of that person's worldview, authentic to them or congruent with their existing values.
 
Kerome

Kerome

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That said, going on a journey of discovery to try and find your spiritual self, if you don't have one, is a way to reinvigorate your life. Finding a tradition that rings a bell with you, that feels like home, can help you refocus and can be a sustenance and an aid.

But it's a question of appropriate time and place, and what your condition is. In the middle of a psychotic episode I would not recommend a spiritual quest, there's too much chance of being dragged along by an enthusiasm and finding it becoming part of the psychosis. If you have some other condition, I don't see why not.

I've met people with borderline or schizoid who use a kind of 12 step programme as a path to recovery, and a belief in a higher power is a core part of 12 step programmes. So you might find those who use it as a key component of an attempt at recovery.

Most doctors will adhere strictly to the medical model, with label and drug being the most important treatment methodology and therapy second, in its many forms. At best you will get a neutral response if you ask about religion, and more likely a cautionary word to not get too involved. And they do have a point, religion can often be a focal point for obsessive behaviour.

In the end, I think you have to do what's right for you. If you're not currently experiencing psychotic symptoms and you feel drawn to starting on a spiritual path, maybe now is the time. The world does not stand still just because you have a mental illness.
 
pepecat

pepecat

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As the others have said, I think it depends.
If you already have a faith / belief system when you become unwell, that can be useful in helping you through whatever MH issues you might have. But equally it can also make things worse in terms of percieved pressure that you're not religious / spritual 'enough' and that's why you're ill. It can also bring about felt pressure along the lines of 'Christians / Hindus / Muslims / whoevers shouldn't have a MH', which is the view of some people within those groups.

I had a faith before I became really unwell - had had it for a long time. When I became unwell though, I didn't find it a help at all, but more of a pressure and a negative thing; it was the extra pressure of "I shouldn't be feeling this way' etc that and it made me feel more guilty and worse rather than being helpful. So I stepped away from it. Six and a half years later and I'm only just beginning to think about that sort of stuff again.

As others have said as well, it also kinda depends on how unwell you are, and what role that religious or spiritual belief plays in that. Some people experience religious or spiritual delusions / obsessive thoughts and in that context it can be deeply unhelpful to recovery. If you've not had a faith or belief system previously, I would personally be very wary of getting involved in something while you're still not that well. People might find it helpful, but it could also be seen as some sort of crutch or quick fix. It might also be worth asking yourself 'why now'? What do you feel there is about religion or sprituality that could be helpful to you now, at this particular time, that wasn't helpful to you previously? What is it that you're looking for?

I personally think that there is a 'soul element' or spiritual side to each and every one of us - it's the part of us that asks the questions about the meaning and value of life, why we're here, what our purpose is, all that stuff. Some people chose to investigate that side of them, others don't. Some do it by conventional religion, some by other means. And people do it to different degrees and at different points in their lives.

It's a tricky one because for some people religion / spirituality can be incredibly helpful and for others it can be rather damaging.
 
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