This rather controversial claim has been made by researchers at University College London, who have published their findings in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Professor Michael King and his team asked 7,403 randomly selected English men and women to ask questions about their spiritual and religious beliefs, as well as their mental states.
35% described themselves as ‘religious’, which meant they regularly attended a church, temple, synagogue or mosque. Most of those who described themselves as religious were Christian (5/6).
46% said they were not religious or spiritual (either atheist or agnostic) and 19% said they were not religious but they did have spiritual beliefs.
The 19% who claimed to be spiritual but not religious were also found to be 77% more likely to have a drug dependency problem, 72% more likely to have a phobia and 50% more likely to have a generalised anxiety disorder than religious, agnostic and atheist respondents.
Spiritual people were also 40% more likely to be taking drugs to treat psychological disorders, and over a third more likely than anyone else to develop a neurotic disorder.
In their paper, the team wrote: “We conclude that there is increasing evidence that people who profess spiritual beliefs in the absence of a religious framework are more vulnerable to mental disorder.”
More research needs to be undertaken into these findings for any significant conclusions to be drawn.
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