From James L. Griffith, well known for his work on harnessing the healing potential of religion and spirituality, this book helps clinicians to intervene effectively in situations where religion is causing harm. Vivid examples illustrate how religious beliefs and practices may propel suicide, violence, self-neglect, or undue suffering in the face of medical or emotional challenges. Griffith also unravels the links between psychiatric illness and distorted religious experience. He demonstrates empathic, respectful ways to interview patients who disdain contact with mental health professionals, yet whose religious lives put themselves or others at risk. The book incorporates cutting-edge research on the psychology of religion and social neuroscience.
Introduction. When Religion Goes Bad: A Mental Health Problem? Part I: A Map for Navigating the Terrain of Religion. What Sociobiology Explains about Destructive Uses of Religion. What Neurobiology Explains about Destructive Uses of Religion. Setting the Stage: Opening Dialogue about Religious Life. Locating Personal Spirituality through Existential Inquiry. Part II: When Religious Life Propels Suffering. Seeking a Parent in God: Clinical Problems from Insecure Attachments. Seeking Security within the Flock: Clinical Problems from Social Hierarchy, Peer Affiliation, and Reciprocal Altruism. Asserting Primacy of Personal Spirituality Over Sociobiological Religion. The Religious Who Protect Only Their Own: Clinical Problems from Peer Affiliation, Kin Recognition, and Social Exchange. Part III: When Mental Illness Infiltrates Religious Life. Religion That is a Voice for Mental Illness. Dark Nights and Exaltation: Religion Distorted by a Mood Disorder. Worlds Confused: Religion Disorganized by Psychosis. Fear and Dread: Religion Shrunken by an Anxiety Disorder. Part IV: A Clinician's Stance. Finding a Place to Stand: Conversing with Religiously Determined Patients.