Religion: Mental Illness YES or NO

On my Twitter feed was the statement, “Religion is not a mental illness.” IMHO, that depends on your definition or Religion. I certainly would change my mind presented with good arguments and discussion.


Sigmund Freud described religion as an “obsessive compulsive neurosis” and Richard Dawkins once also claimed it could qualify as a mental illness. That alone should be enough to validate discussion of the topic.

Does everyone have the same definition of the concept of religion or am I dealing with a barrel of mixed fruit? Other than god, what would be the least common denominator between all religions? My first stab at this would be “Faith”.

Faith” being that we are unable to prove god exist, therefore one does not know their religion is correct, they have faith in god and their religion. If someone can prove there is a god or their religion is the correct religion, I would view that position as the beginning of a mental illness otherwise submission of said evidence for peer review should result in a Nobel Prize..

Considering society as a whole, when a large portion of the population holds the same beliefs, whether true or not, how would that impact the diagnoses as a disorder. If 85% of the population were Schizophrenic, would Schizophrenia still be a disorder? What if there were a pill that once taken, a person no longer accepted faith but rather wanted proof? Would that make religion a disorder? If such a pill existed and we ridden the world of religion, would the human mind find a replacement for religion that put us right back in the same predicament, resulting in religion being a side effect of the human operating system?

If your definition of religion is actually faith, then no, religion is not a mental disorder but rather a position held by the believer. If your definition of religion is not based around faith, then at some point, based on level of belief, extremism or any action that results in harm to one’s self or others, I would then consider religion to be a mental illness.

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