“We’re about to become like Jesus Christ… sort of. When we have reached our destination we’re gonna be like him…”
Religion and mental health have been researched, and reflekted upon, a lot. Sigmund Freud was out early. He was negatively attuned to people’s religiosity, generally saw this as an escape from responsibility and adulthood. Over time, the picture has become more complex. Modern research (primarily done in the United States) usually points out that people who are active in a congregation are doing better than average.
On contemporary or “alternative” spirituality, and mental health, there has also been some research and some speculation. Above all, on the organized type: “cults”. Here, the general view is more negative. Group pressure, thought control, manipulative leadership, etc. They seems to be relatively easy to get into, but hard to get out of.
I myself have been most interested in the unorganized spirituality, so-called “holistic” spirituality, “New Age” and the like. This is spirituality that one engages in more on one’s own. (Sometimes it is compared to “a smorgasboard” from which one picks up one’s individual mix. But I myself think that is an exaggeration. After all, there are some core ideas.) This type of spirituality is conveyed through certain “centers”, some self-help literature, television programs on spirit contacts and mediums, etc.
But for this reason, the thought system does not have to be so different from that of the more organized alternative spirituality. My exam project to become a psychologist was around this subject. The entire essay + some extras can be found here on the website (in Swedish).
I have continued to be fascinated by the psychological aspects of, above all, such un-organized spirituality. What it can “do to you”, so to speak. This contemporary, “holistic” spirituality, contains a lot that is worth thinking about. (25-30% of people in the West nowadays believe in reincarnation, i e.)
It can be argued that Freud’s critique of religion could apply even more to this modern spirituality. But – importantly – this has nothing to do with whether or not this new, alternative spirituality is true or not. Maybe it is even true? All the more interesting in that case.
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Starting in the spring of 2020, I have given live lectures online. Links and more information about this can be found here: EDIV Live