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J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2012 Sep;43(3):959-66. doi: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2012.02.004. Epub 2012 Mar 12.

Why are religious individuals more obsessional? The role of mental control beliefs and guilt in Muslims and Christians.

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1
Department of Psychology, Dogus University, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, H Blok, 703D, Acıbadem, Kadikoy, 34722 Istanbul, Turkey. minozu@dogus.edu.tr

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

The cognitive-behavioural perspective on obsessions recognizes that certain cultural experiences such as adherence to religious beliefs about the importance of maintaining strict mental control might increase the propensity for obsessional symptoms via the adoption of faulty appraisals and beliefs about the unacceptability and control of unwanted intrusive thoughts. Few studies have directly investigated this proposition, especially in a non-Western Muslim sample.

METHOD:

In the present study high religious, low religious and religious school Canadian Christian and Turkish Muslim students were compared on measures of OCD symptoms, obsessive beliefs, guilt, religiosity, and negative affect.

RESULTS:

Analysis revealed that religiosity had a specific relationship with obsessional but not anxious or depressive symptoms in both samples, although the highly religious Muslim students reported more compulsive symptoms than highly religious Christians. In both samples the relationship between religiosity and obsessionality was mediated by importance/control of thoughts and responsibility/threat beliefs as well as generalized guilt.

LIMITATIONS:

The sample composition was limited to non-clinical undergraduates and only two major religions were considered without recognition of denominational differences.

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings indicate that the tendency for highly religious Christians and Muslims to experience greater obsessionality is related to their heightened sense of personal guilt and beliefs that they are responsible for controlling unwanted, threatening intrusive thoughts.

PMID:
22484698
DOI:
10.1016/j.jbtep.2012.02.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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