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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Religious delusions are common symptoms of schizophrenia.

Scientists have concluded that there is a deeply manifested relationship between religion and schizophrenia. Common symptoms of non-treated schizophrenics include delusions of both spirituality and religiousness. Religious belief delusions vary across cultures. The impact of religion does not always have a positive outcome. In fact, religious delusions may play a part in substance abuse and suicide attempts. Psychiatrists have found that using religion as part of a patient's treatment can often have adverse outcomes.

Researchers studied patients having religious delusions to determine how religious beliefs and practices influenced psychotic illness. They found that religious delusions and hallucinations may lead to violent behavior. Kraya and Patrick found that religious delusions led some patients to commit homicide (1). Field and Waldfogel, et al., along with Waugh in a separate study, found that religiously deluded people have quoted Bible scripture after plucking out one or more eyes (2) or cutting off the testicles (3). Religious delusions about the antichrist have led other patients toward violent behaviors (4).

In a ongoing study by Mohr and Huguelet, their delusional patients who believed they had a close relationship with God, believed that God told them to inflict serious bodily injury to themselves or to others. They found that these same patients heard God's voice telling them to pray, to go to church, to read their Bible, and not to take medication because it hinders their praying and quietens God's voice in their mind (5).

In a study of inpatients with schizophrenia, conducted by Siddle and Haddock, et al., those with religious delusions were the most severely ill with religious delusions that were more frequently observed and lasted for longer periods of time (6).

For their patients with schizophrenia, psychiatrists believe that religion and spirituality cannot be used as tools for ongoing social support as they can lead to a more pathological condition.


(1) Kraya N, Patrick C., Folie a deux in forensic setting. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 1997;31:883-8.

(2) Field H, Waldfogel S. Severe ocular self-injury. Gen Hosp Psychiatry 1995;17:224-7.

(3) Waugh A. Auto-castration and biblical delusions in schizophrenia. Br J Psychiatry 1986;149;656-9.

(4) Silva JA, Leong GB, Weinstock R. Violent behaviors associated with the antichrist delusion. J Forensic Sci 1997;42:1058-61.

(5) Mohr S and Huguelet P. The relationship between schizophrenia and religion and its implications for care. Swiss Med Wkly 2004;134:369-376.

(6) Siddle R, Haddock G, Tarrier N, Faragher EB. Religious delusions in patients admitted to hospital with schizophrenia. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2002;37:130-8.

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