FIRSTLY, I read the editorial (Yorkshire Post, January 2) headed “Spiritual warning – concern over mental illness link”. Then I searched for the relevant article, which wasn’t difficult to find as the title stood out like a sore thumb. “Spirituality can bring demons says study – being spiritual may give life deeper meaning but it can also mess up your mind.”
Professor Michael King, together with his colleague from University College London, have written in the British Journal of Psychiatry: “Our main finding is that people who had a spiritual understanding of life had worse mental health than those with an understanding that was neither religious nor spiritual.”
Does this imply that spirituality causes mental illness? I am totally confused. What is the purpose of this survey, where participants are divided into the following three groups:
1. Those who are spiritual but who do not attend a place of worship, such as a church, synagogue etc.
2. Those who are religious and go to church etc.
3. Those who are neither spiritual or religious.
One of the dictionary definitions of spiritual is “characteristic of sacred things, the church religions” etc.
How can there be a division between spiritual and religious? Are churchgoers not spiritual? Are those who remain at home mistaken in their belief that they are Christian? Is this yet another attempt to discredit Christianity and other faiths? Disraeli’s much quoted “lies, damned lies and statistics” springs to mind.
When I was young, many years ago admittedly, I was taught that the unforgiveable sin against the Holy Spirit was to classify evil as good, and vice versa. Is this what we are beginning to witness today?
Indeed, we live in a very sick society and I am not surprised that the World Health Association has suggested that by 2030 “mental health issues will form the biggest burden on health care resources”.