DIY Religions: More Harm Than Good [Excerpts]
Brisbane Times, Australia, Jan. 17, 2008
Meditation, crystal therapy, self-help books - think they’re making you happier? Think again. A Brisbane academic has found a strong link between new-age spirituality and poor mental health in young people.
Rosemary Aird examined a possible correlation between new forms of spirituality and mental health as part of her University of Queensland PhD studies.
After surveying more than 3700 Brisbane-based 21-year-olds, she found spirituality and self-focused religions may undermine a person’s mental health.
“I had a look at two different beliefs - one was a belief in God, associated with traditional religions, and the other was the newer belief in a spiritual or higher power other than God,” Dr Aird said.
The research found non-traditional belief was linked with higher rates of anxiety, depression, disturbed and suspicious ways of thinking and anti-social behaviour.
“Traditional religion tends to promote the idea of social responsibility and thinking of others’ interests, whereas the new-age movement pushes the idea that we can transform the world by changing ourselves.
Young people with new-age beliefs were twice as likely to be more anxious and depressed than those with traditional beliefs, the research found.
As people have moved away from traditional religious beliefs in recent times, most have been left with a desire to find meaning and purpose in life, she said.
The popular self-help and how-to book phenomenon has also created a DIY-spirituality process and further removed the community aspect from development and religion, she said.