35% of Americans believe prayer can cure mental illness

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As reported by The Guardian, Lifeway Research has released a study showing that 35% of Americans and 48% of whom identify as evangelical christians believeprayer and bible study alone can cure illness and mental illnesses.

Ed Stetzer, the president of Lifeway Research said this study actually shows that churches must do a better job addressing mental illness. Churches who avoid addressing mental illness as something that needs professional medical attention are risking the lives of their congregation who look to the church for guidance in these situations.

The mega church pastor Rick Warren recently addressed this issue after his son Matthew committed suicide. Matthew suffered from borderline personality disorder and depression. Warren told CNN he has now started talking to his congregation about the stigma related to mental illness.

A 2006 study conducted by Harvard Universityactually showed that prayer could do more harm than good, if the patients in recovery knew they were being prayed for.

Written By: Dan Arel
continue to source article at examiner.com

33 COMMENTS

  1. If someone really and truly believes that they are possessed by demons and if they also really and truly believe that the prayers of a priest can exorcise those demons, then I’d have to agree that prayers can sometimes cure some mental illnesses.

    • In reply to #4 by cornbread_r2:

      If someone really and truly believes that they are possessed by demons and if they also really and truly believe that the prayers of a priest can exorcise those demons, then I’d have to agree that prayers can sometimes cure some mental illnesses.

      It actually compounds the illness because no one has really been cured and the belief the prayer worked is just another example of the illness. They may seem fine but only until they think they are possessed again. At best, it is a placebo. They are still mentally ill. Neither the belief of demons nor the belief of prayer are the issue, those beliefs are simply how the illness manifests itself, another person might think they can fly. Would you consider them cured if they used their cure as an excuse to force prayer on others because it “works”?

    • In reply to #4 by cornbread_r2:

      If someone really and truly believes that they are possessed by demons and if they also really and truly believe that the prayers of a priest can exorcise those demons, then I’d have to agree that prayers can sometimes cure some mental illnesses.

      I have a TV just like that, if it goes fuzzy a swift blow to it’s side and it’s fixed I can “cure” all sorts of electronic problems.

      Shouldn’t even be tolerated as a joke let alone given special privileges to allow your children to die of negligence. Real people die of prayer every day and not one saved.

    • In reply to #4 by cornbread_r2:

      If someone really and truly believes that they are possessed by demons and if they also really and truly believe that the prayers of a priest can exorcise those demons, then I’d have to agree that prayers can sometimes cure some mental illnesses.

      That depends on whether or not the particular mental illness responds to the placebo effect.

    • In reply to #4 by cornbread_r2:

      If someone really and truly believes that they are possessed by demons and if they also really and truly believe that the prayers of a priest can exorcise those demons, then I’d have to agree that prayers can sometimes cure some mental illnesses.

      A priest may be able to exorcise a schizophrenic of illusory demons, but he’s not going to be able to exorcise the patient of schizophrenia, and that’s the problem. Indeed, there are Italian customers that will go to clerical exorcists sixteen or seventeen times to have their demons expelled. It doesn’t seem to take.

      To be fair, psychiatry cannot exorcise or otherwise cure schizophrenic effective disorders either, but can only treat them and help a patient learn to manage symptoms (by staying away from triggers, and learning behaviors to halt or distract away from compulsive responses. But they can certainly provide longer lasting relief than can a priest.

      I disagree with Dawkins in that I don’t think people are overly subject to hallucination or delusion so much as they are interpretation, and the notion that one is possessed by demons is for sake of this argument an interpretation of symptoms as much as a DSM diagnosis. Only the latter interpretation is much more likely to serve as a guide towards effective treatment.

    • “Churches who avoid addressing mental illness as something that needs professional medical attention are risking the lives of their congregation who look to the church for guidance in these situations”*

    Churches who prefer prayer over professional medical care in ANY illness are risking people’s lives.
    Having said that, I do wish people would think for themselves but sadly they won’t.

  2. To be honest, I’m surprised the number isn’t any higher.

    I’m sure I’ve seen some kind of survery where a far bigger number of americans believe in the power of prayer in general, more like 50% but I would have thought that, being as illusive as mental illness is, that more people would beleive that mental illnesses could be cured by prayer than say physical injuries or cancer.

    That must mean that there are people out there who although believe in the power of prayer, don’t believe it can cure mental illness.

    This seems to look favourably on the state of public understanding of mental illnesses.

  3. Lifeway Research has released a study showing that 35% of Americans and 48% of whom identify as evangelical christians believe prayer and bible study alone can cure illness and mental illnesses.

    What do you expect if you ask those with a pride in their religious mental illness for a diagnosis? It’s like letting the lunatics run the asylum!

  4. Another example of just how deluded faithheads are and how dangerous they can be.

    I wonder where Stetzer or Warren would want to be taken to first if they showed classic symptoms of having a stroke, meningitis or a first-time seizure; church or hospital?

    Solid and verifiable evidence can be provided as proof of the following – there lays the difference between faith healing and science.

    My partner has a history ecstatic epileptic seizures. She attended a catholic school and was raised amongst faithheads. Her seizures included a ‘god worship’ period. She managed to shake off most of the religious dogma (although she still feels guilty most of the time for no good reason) and went on to acheive two university degrees, one from Oxford. She also qualified as a magistrate.

    It was, and still is of course, the world of science that provided treatments and medication (plus her guts and determination to learn much about neurology), allowing her to achieve so much during her times of difficulty.

    She is an atheist and a compassionate caring person. I shudder to think where and who she might be now if she had remained within the clutches of the church.

  5. I suppose that prayer may help to the praying ones, because they are often the cause of problem, and one cannot pray and abuse human being with some mental problems. The same about physical illness – I remember how mad I was at everybody trying to pretend they understand my feelings after diagnosis of cancer. However praying instead of bringing to the doctor must (at least incase of children) become a true crime. Well, in case of adults they should listen to both sides….Only I do not understand how this can be achieved. Nobody has made any surways in Latvia, yet if the situation is better here then only because of the popularity of local nationalsocialists: the do not care much about christianity and put stress on the need to kick out everybody that has entered Latvia after 1940, except those from Western Europe, America, Canada and Australia.

  6. It’s surely valid to ask whether that 35% of Americans think that prayer cures the person who is praying or cures other people.

    Skipping clear of obvious sardonic comments, if prayer, to the pray-er, is a kind of mantric internal audit exercise, yup, I can concede that might bring solace, peace and other tools for survival. If however they take the curing someone else line, essentially they are arguing that their prayer actually exits their own heads, gets divine bells jangling and the effect floods back down and wipes turmoil from somebody else’s head. Which is just potty.

  7. Praying to the Almighty and asking Him to change his Great Cosmic Plan for each and every one of us, is a darned impertinence. I mean there He is for 13.82 billion years carefully working out this plan, who will be born when, who will get married to whom, what the weather will be like in England, and who dies of what. Then along comes some religious twit on his knees and asks God to change His Plan !

    Looking on the bright side of this survey, it would seem that 65% of Americans don’t believe prayer heals mental illness. A sizeable majority in my book.

  8. How could they get such a belief?

    1. bible. They are told the bible is true. These events were long ago. Prayer does not work the way it used to.
    2. anecdotal evidence. Someone prayed. They got better. (perhaps they also got some Paroxetine). Nobody bothers to check if people prayed over do any better than those who don’t.
    3. People lie and make up stats.
  9. If I may point out the obvious larger picture, it’s sad that any percentage of people from any country believes that prayer and Bible study has any effect whatsoever on the space/time continuum in any way, shape or form.

  10. A recent large study led by Professor Michael King from University College London called “Spiritual and religious beliefs as risk factors for the onset of major depression: an international cohort study” (published in Psychological Medicine a few weeks back) showed that religious beliefs do not protect you against mental illness in any way. Quite the contrary: the more religious one is, the more likely one is to suffer from depression. The study involved over 8000 participants from seven different countries, and the spiritual participants from the UK were nearly three times more likely to experience an episode of depression than the secular group.

  11. In reply to #22 by Mr DArcy:

    Praying to the Almighty and asking Him to change his Great Cosmic Plan for each and every one of us, is a darned impertinence. I mean there He is for 13.82 billion years carefully working out this plan, who will be born when, who will get married to whom, what the weather will be like in England, and who dies of what. Then along comes some religious twit on his knees and asks God to change His Plan !

    George Carlin said it best: “What’s the use of being god if every run-down schmuck with a two-dollar prayer book can come along and fuck up your plan?” (HERE, at 6:09 ** http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPOfurmrjxo **)

    Steve

  12. As I’ve mentioned before the churches are unduly interested interested in people with mental health problems as well as other vulnerable adults as they view them as easily exploitable.

    At the most mild they would replace all conventional treatment with “Christian Counselling”, however the belief that mental health problems = demonic possession and require exorcism of one sort or other is wide spread amongst them. I fail to see the benefit of torturing mental health patients myself, and indeed the organisation I work for has been through the courts with the Scientologists over this issue;

    http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Library/Shelf/rolph/chr.htm

  13. As one who suffers from mental illness, the notion that prayer can be used to treat such conditions is not only objectionable but downright offensive.

    • It doesn’t work, and we’ve already had studies to show that prayer, either by a patient or by others over a patient doesn’t help.

    • By turning to prayer or other ineffective treatments, it steers the patient (and guardians) away from treatments that might actually be effective.

    • Prayer very easily turns into more violent practices such as exorcism on the presumption that escalating such treatment might compensate for its ineffectiveness, which can cause further harm, or even death.

    • As per all petitionary prayer, requests from the divine to treat personal illness presumes that an individual’s needs are of a higher priority than the mechanisms of the universe. While this is an ecclesiastic problem and not a scientific one, it suggests that the fundamental suppositions of prayer are intrinsically flawed. (Spellcasting, interestingly doesn’t have the same paradoxical problem.)

    • Blame for the failure of prayer is often hoisted on the victim or loved ones for not praying hard enough, which is can aggravate many mental illnesses as well as divert the attention of the patient and caregivers from treatments that might actually work.

    The nineties and new millennium have seen spectacular advancements in the field of psychiatry, both in the applications of psychotropic medicines and forms of talk therapy such as cognitive behavior therapy. Granted, the approach is less to cure mental illness but to be able to recognize and manage symptoms and turn a patent’s life towards mental wellness (which is nowadays differentiated significantly from mental normality.) There is real treatment out there.

    Prayer is offered within religions as a panacea against all things, but there are clearer examples in which conditions are more immediate and more obvious. Prayer will not restore lost limbs. Prayer will not substitute for insulin. Prayer does not cure HIV or Malaria. Prayer will not cure cardiac arrest or anaphylaxis. Why would we even imagine that it would cure anything else, such as mental illness?

    .As of this posting I have not received a US National Security Letter or any classified gag order from an agent of the United States ~~~ .
    Encrypted with Morbius-Cochrane Perfect Steganographic Codec 1.2.001 ~~~ .
    Wednesday, September 25, 2013 11:34:51 AM ~~~
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  14. Kudos to prayer sites such as this one for adding disclaimers such as Prayer should never be a substitute for receiving adequate medical attention. Please pray for yourself in addition to getting searching for proper treatment of any medical condition.

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