"Religion, Spirituality and Health: Are they related and What does it mean?"
Harold G. Koenig, M.D., MHSc.
Duke University Medical Center: Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Science & Associate Professor of Medicine; Founding Co-director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology & Health
Religious and spiritual factors are increasingly being examined in psychiatric research. Religious beliefs and practices have long been linked to hysteria, neurosis, and psychotic delusions. However, recent studies have identified another side of religion that may serve as a psychological and social resource for coping with stress. After defining the terms religion and spirituality, this lecture reviews research on the relation between religion and/or spirituality, and mental health, focusing on depression, suicide, anxiety, psychosis, and substance abuse. The results of an earlier systematic review are discussed, and more recent studies in the United States, Canada, Europe, and other countries are described. While religious beliefs and practices can represent powerful sources of comfort, hope, and meaning, they are often intricately entangled with neurotic and psychotic disorders, sometimes making it difficult to determine whether they are a resource or a liability.
Dr. Koenig completed his undergraduate education at Stanford University, his medical school training at the University of California at San Francisco, and his geriatric medicine, psychiatry, and biostatistics training at Duke University Medical Center. He is board certified in general psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry and geriatric medicine.
He has published extensively in the fields of mental health, geriatrics, and religion, with over 300 scientific peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and nearly 40 books in print or in preparation. His latest books are (1) Faith and Mental Health (2005), (2) Kindness and Joy (2006), (3) Spirituality in Patient Care, 2nd edition (2007), and Medicine, Religion and Health (2008) (all by Templeton Press). Koenig's research on religion, health and ethical issues in medicine has been featured on many national and international TV news programs, nearly a hundred national or international radio programs, and hundreds of newspapers and magazines. He has also given testimony before the U.S. Senate (1998) and U.S. House of Representatives (2008) concerning the benefits of religion and spirituality on public health.
This lecture is co-sponsored by Bay State Health Systems, the Five College Council on Religious Life, the UMass Amherst Center for Public Policy and Administration, the UMass Amherst Office of Jewish Affairs, and the UMass Amherst Religious Affairs Committee.