Schizophrenic Prayer

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The comedian Lily Tomlin has joked, “Why is it when we talk to God, we're said to be praying--but when God talks to us, we're schizophrenics?" While she is making light of the issue, she is right in pointing out a relationship between schizophrenia and religion. The impact of religion on schizophrenia, and vice versa, is a fascinating topic that has not received a great deal of attention in scientific literature.

It is known that a number of schizophrenics suffer from delusions and hallucinations with religious components to them, but the actual relationship between religion and schizophrenia remains unclear. Study results don’t even always agree on whether schizophrenics tend to be more or less religious than the general population. A recent review of the scientific research on schizophrenia and religion concluded that religion can be protective in some instances, and act a risk factor in others. There is also no clear link between religiosity and adherence to treatment among schizophrenics.

The relationship between religion and schizophrenia deserves a closer look, as there is reason to believe that aspects of religion can have both negative and positive affects on outcomes among schizophrenic patients. While the negative influences of religion on schizophrenia, namely religious delusions, has led to a certain stigma, it’s a mistake to dismiss potential positive impacts of religion among schizophrenics out of hand.