Faith Healing & Mental Health.

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What is Faith Healing?

Faith healing is healing achieved by religious prayers and belief rather than by medical treatments. It is rampant and commonly found in almost every continent of earth with the exception of Antarctica (It would be funny though to see penguins worshipping a pebble). The way faith healing is perceived in the western world is myopic in my opinion. I often come across people thinking that faith healing is more prevalent in Africa and the sub-continent rather than the “modernized”, “developed” western world. (Most of the evidence says otherwise.) Faith healing is actually very common in Christian countries and at similar levels as Islam, Hinduism or any other religion.

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Faith Healing & Medicine.

Unfortunately, a large number of people die each year because parents or guardians decide to visit a faith healer before they visit a doctor. Diseases that are easily curable end up reaching a stage of no return because the faith healers insist that the person is ill due to black magic or demonic possession, when it is actually the Whooping Cough bacterium that is doing the possession. Faith healing in physical illnesses merely acts as a placebo which works sometimes, rarely but not every time. The case, when it comes mental illnesses though, is an interesting one.

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Faith Healing & Mental Health.

I have previously written about the role religion and spirituality can play in healing from mental health. You can go through my previous opinions on the topic here.

Religion And Spirituality For Recovery From Mental Illness.

Every time I go through some literature on the role religion plays in recovery from mental illnesses, I find out some new perspectives. This time I learned that religion can lead to, or venting of stress.

As Spilka and Werme (1971) put it, religion may serve as a means of expressing emotional disturbance, as a haven from stress, as a source of stress, as a means of social acceptance (and conformity), or as a means of growth and fulfillment. Stommen (1971) similarly perceives that religion “attracts, reduces, increases, and heals mental disorder”

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In India, something interesting occurred in a small village. When a psychiatrist visited a small village he saw that many people who had been ostracized on account of “demonic possessions” were actually suffering from schizophrenia. They had taken refuge in homes of faith healers and were tied to poles and chained down. It was unhygienic and inhumane. On seeing this, the doctor decided to do something novel. He didn’t shut down the faith healers or have them arrested; instead he sensitized and informed them about the telltale signs of mental illness. It lead to people approaching faith healers for help and upon showering prayers and blessings on them, the faith healers actually encouraged a visit to a psychiatrist close by. Faith healers and doctors worked in unison in order to help people in recovery from a mental illness.

Conclusion.

We can learn from this that rather than carrying out an all out war against faith healing, trying to sensitize and informing them could work as well. It does work in the case of mental illnesses but that is not the case with physical illnesses. So we can conclude that when it comes to dealing with mental illnesses, we need to use approaches that have not been used normally before.

If you wish to read my post on Atheism and Depression, you can do that here,

Atheism And Depression.

Rajeev was approached daily by new people. He hadn’t ever met most of them. All of them had new anecdotes and advices. The idea of faith healing had given him some perspective and given him belief, but it did not motivate him to do something new. He was losing hope and becoming pessimistic day by day. It seemed like nothing would work. He had tried everything. “Take a walk in nature and exercise.” It was the most recent advice he had received. It seemed stupid to him initially but Rajeev was really desperate. If nothing else, could exercise help him? Find out tomorrow on knightofsteel.com

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14 Comments

syncwithdeep · April 6, 2018 at 2:14 AM

This is an interesting post. true, some people are blind to superstitions and seek the faith healing for contagious diseases. The funny part is,most of the channels in India, has a series of episodes in faith healing. to me, one should have the faith to heel from anything, be it physical or mental.

    knightofsteel · April 6, 2018 at 2:17 AM

    Having faith is ok but letting that faith stop us from seeking medicine or therapy.

      syncwithdeep · April 6, 2018 at 2:18 AM

      exactly, that was what i meant to say!

Akshata Ram · April 6, 2018 at 5:37 AM

I have always been sceptic of faith healers but this was a new perspective from you on dealing with them differently when it comes to mental illness. It’s a very positive approach as your story mentions but what if they are not willing to support and refer to a psychiatrist?

    knightofsteel · April 6, 2018 at 5:50 AM

    That’s a huge no. If anyone tells you to obey him and not visit a psychiatrist then stay as far away from this person as possible. They won’t be any help at alp

CRD · April 6, 2018 at 4:05 PM

Interesting stuff. I always thought faith healing was akin to superstition.

    knightofsteel · April 7, 2018 at 6:27 AM

    most of it is superstition but for some people, it has been proven to act like a placebo.

Mayuri Nidigallu · April 7, 2018 at 5:59 AM

Faith can move mountains, but sometimes only medical help can change a person’s health for the better.

    knightofsteel · April 7, 2018 at 6:34 AM

    Hey Mayuri, It is true that sometimes faith helps but it must not mean that we end up ignoring our medicines for it. Thanks for dropping by 🙂

Anagha Yatin · April 7, 2018 at 6:02 AM

I quite liked the approach of the psychiatrist. There has to be an all inclusive, holistic approach to cure of a patient. The religion and faith may act as a placebo, but it can strengthen the actual treatment.

    knightofsteel · April 7, 2018 at 6:36 AM

    Exactly! If faith helps someone, we must not tell them they are stupid. If it helps them, we should let them follow it. As long as they dont start telling people to stay away from doctors

Ruchie · April 7, 2018 at 12:26 PM

Faith is something really required but blindly following is really stupidity…nice series so far

    knightofsteel · April 7, 2018 at 11:47 PM

    Thank you 🙂

Homeopathy and Mental Health - The Knight of Steel · September 2, 2018 at 10:02 PM

[…] as possible. I have been critical of pseudo sciences like homeopathy. I have also accepted that faith healing may help with illnesses like depression or anxiety. Recently I was going through some research […]

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