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The relationship between schizophrenia and religion and its implications for care

Mohr, S., & Huguelet, P. (2004).  Swiss Medical Weekly, 134, 369-376.

Abstract. This paper focuses on the relationships between schizophrenia and religion, on the basis of a review of literature and the data of an ongoing study about religiousness and spiritual coping conducted among outpatients with chronic schizophrenia. Religion (including both spirituality and religiousness) is salient in the lives of many people suffering from schizophrenia. However, psychiatric research rarely addresses religious issues. Religious beliefs and religious delusions lie on a continuum and vary across cultures. In Switzerland for example, the belief in demons as the cause of mental health problems is a common phenomenon in Christians with high saliency of religiousness. Religion has an impact, not always positive, on the comorbidity of substance abuse and suicidal attempts in schizophrenia. In many patients' life stories, religion plays a central role in the processes of reconstructing a sense of self and recovery. However religion may become part of the problem as well as part of the recovery. Some patients are helped by their faith community, uplifted by spiritual activities, comforted and strengthened by their beliefs. Other patients are rejected by their faith community, burdened by spiritual activities, disappointed and demoralized by their beliefs. Religion is relevant for the treatment of people with schizophrenia in that it may help to reduce pathology, to enhance coping and to foster recovery. In the treatment of these patients, it appears useful to tolerate diversity, to respect others beliefs, to ban proselytism and to have a good knowledge of one's own spiritual identity.

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