Being a pessimistic might not only alter one's mental state, it may also increase painful conditions if any are present.
Published in the Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health, a new report revealed that individuals who blame karma for their poor health have more pain and even worse physical and mental health. Counteracting negative spiritual beliefs could assist some individuals with limiting pain and improving overall health, researchers noted in the study.
“In general, the more religious or spiritual you are, the healthier you are, which makes sense,” said Brick Johnstone, PhD, a neuropsychologist and professor of health psychology in the School of Health Professions at the University of Missouri Health System, in a statement. “But for some individuals, f they have even the smallest degree of negative spirituality–basically, when individuals believe they’re ill because they’ve done something wrong and God is punishing them–their health is worse.”
Researchers analyzed nearly 200 individuals to understand how spiritual beliefs affect health outcomes. Conditions of these individuals ranged from cancer to chronic pain; others were healthy. The study's authors divided the study participants into two groups: a negative-spirituality group and a no-spirituality group.
Those in the negative-spirituality group reported significantly worse pain as well as worse physical and mental health while those with positive spirituality reported better mental health.
“Previous research has shown that about 10% of people have negative spiritual beliefs; for example, believing that if they don’t do something right, God won’t love them,” Dr Johnstone said. “That’s a negative aspect of religion when people believe, ‘God is not supportive of me. What kind of hope do I have?’ However, when people firmly believe God loves and forgives them despite their shortcomings, they had significantly better mental health.”
1. Jones A, Cohen D, Johnstone B, et al. Relationships between negative spiritual beliefs and health outcomes for individuals with heterogeneous medical conditions. J Spirituality Mental Health. 2015;17(2):135. doi: 10.1080/19349637.2015.1023679.
Negative emotions can affect more than your mental health; a recent report concluded they also make painful conditions even worse. “In general, the more religious or spiritual you are, the healthier you are, which makes sense,” Brick Johnstone, PhD, a neuropsychologist and professor of health psychology in the University of Missouri (MU) School of Health Professions, said in a news release.