New Research Links Spiritual-Not-Religious People to Mental Disorder

People who have a spiritual understanding of life in the absence of a religious framework are vulnerable to mental disorder

Written by Elizabeth Drescher

British psychiatry researchers recently stirred the roiling religious affiliation and identification pot with a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry that concludes that “People who have a spiritual understanding of life in the absence of a religious framework are vulnerable to mental disorder.” This week, the news swam the pond to appear in a number of US news outlets.

The research, led by University College London professor Michael King, reveals a population of “spiritual but not religious” Brits that generally tracks to the US population of “Nones” identified in a recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion in American Life. Some 35 percent of the more than 7,000 Brits surveyed indicated that they had “a religious understanding of life.” The majority of these identified as Christian. Nineteen percent self-identified as “spiritual but not religious” (SBNR), while 46 percent described themselves as neither spiritual nor religious. American “Nones,” however, seem less inclined to embrace the “spiritual but not religious” label, with fewer than half in the Pew population of the religiously unaffiliated identifying as such.

Data from another source

In the British study, SBNRs were found to be significantly more likely to be drug-dependent (77%) and to suffer from phobias (72%) or anxiety (50%). No wonder they’re significantly more likely (40%) than the religious to be being treated with psychotropic drugs.

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