“We’re going to evolve to become like Jesus. When we’re at the goal, we’re like him.”
Religion and mental health have been researched and thought about a lot. Sigmund Freud was out early. He was negative about people’s religiosity, he saw this generally as an escape from responsibility and adulthood. Over time the picture has become more complex. Within his own moment, not the least. Modern research (which is mainly done in the US) usually points to that people who are active in a church is feeling better than average.
On contemporary, “newer” spirituality, and mental health, research also has been done. Above all on the organized type: “cults”. Here, the general perception is more negative. Peer pressure, mind control, manipulative leadership, etc. Such spirituality is relatively easy to get into, hard to get out of.
I myself have been most interested in unorganized so-called “holistic” spirituality, “new age spirituality” and the like. It is spirituality that one engage in more on one’s own. (Sometimes it’s pictured as “a smorgasbord” from which you pick up an individual mix. But I think that’s an exaggeration. Some beliefs are more or less mandatory within such belief systems.)
But the world of imagination need not be so different from that of the more organized modern spirituality. My thesis to become a psychologist was about this world of thought. (The full article + some extras are posted here on the website.)
I have continued to be fascinated by and pondering on psychological aspects of such unorganized spirituality in particular. What it can “do with one”, so to speak? Modern holistic spirituality holds a lot that is worth thinking about. (And there are similarities with how many people think about themselves and life today. The “zeitgeist”. As an example 25-30% of people in the West these days believe in reincarnation.)
It can be argued that Freud’s criticism of religion could apply even more to this modern type of spirituality. But – and this is important – this is unrelated to whether this modern world of imagination is actually true or not. Perhaps it is true? In that case, the more interesting.