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The Relationship Between Religion and Abnormal Psychology Essay

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Updated: Dec 24th, 2021

Introduction

Religious perspective on psychology has presented a lot of confusion when it comes to defining normal or abnormal behaviors. For example, different religions have different set standards of what is considered normal or abnormal, or rather moral or immoral in their own set of ethical judgments. In this case, should we brand immoral conduct as ‘normal’? If so, then we should be able to call moral behavior normal as well. But whose judgment will we use to separate the two contrasting elements of the psychology of normal and abnormal behaviors? This paper focuses on the relationship between religion and the definition of normal and abnormal psychology.

Religious Beliefs vs. normal and abnormal behavior

In our day-to-day operations, it is easy to make judgments of what other people do, thanks to religion that has instilled a sense of ‘righteousness’ within our psychological setup. The world has several religions, which are dictated by various cultural beliefs. Among these beliefs are the different practices that go hand in hand with what every section of society believes in. Because these practices are different and most often conflict, one may find it easy to make a judgment of what is good or wrong. Simply put: it’s easy to use individual belief to make a universal judgment, although such judgment may be biased (Masterpasqua, 2009). This kind of conflict makes it hard to develop a clear boundary between what is right or wrong within the religious context. Some religious beliefs permit the use of alcohol and it’s considered normal, yet others find it abnormal as alcohol is considered immoral. A Muslim faithful will consider taking alcoholic beverages completely immoral as far as Koran teachings are concerned. The same alcohol is considered normal among some Christian believers. Muslim faithful will find it normal to marry many wives as provided in the Koran, something completely abnormal for staunch Christians. Still some religious cultures consider eating beef immoral or unacceptable as cows are regarded as sacred. So what version of normalcy will we apply when giving definition of normal and abnormal behaviors?

Usual or Unusual Behavior

As stated earlier, usual behavior to one person may not pass with the same judgment to another person, especially if the two judges belong to different religious inclinations. So it’s possible to question that if one behavior is considered unusual, to who is it unusual? For instance, some people with certain religious or cultural inclination will consider tattoos or body piercing very unusual, while some will see it as an important aspect of religious experience. While some religions belief that one can actually hear unusual voices or speak in tongues or even sees some things that are non-existent, others do not belief in such.

Still, certain inventions have been linked to individuals who have in the past been oriented to particular situations in life. This may explain why psychologists believe that a number of creative personalities “possess schizotypal personalities” (Masterpasqua, 2009, p.194). They have highlighted certain creative personalities like Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Emily Dickinson, among many others as those who have been influenced by their religious and cultural beliefs as prescribed in the societal setup they belong to. The socio-cultural model does explain why the context of normal and abnormal definition varies depending on different situation. According to Hansell & Damourv (2008, p.63), the model captures the “influence of large social and cultural forces on individual functioning.” For instance, poverty, any form of discrimination (e.g. racial, gender, etc), and many other issues within the society may bring about criminal behaviors among individuals. This is because behavioral conducts are learnt within the environment of existence, and are dictated by the “socio-cultural pressures, stresses, and ideals” (Masterpasqua, 2009, p.195).

Reference List

  1. Hansell, J., & Damour, L. (2008). Abnormal psychology (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ. Wiley.
  2. Masterpasqua, F. (2009). Psychology and epigenetics. Review of General Psychology, 13(3), 194-201.
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IvyPanda. 2021. "The Relationship Between Religion and Abnormal Psychology." December 24, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-relationship-between-religion-and-abnormal-psychology/.

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