Think Karma's to Blame For Your Illness? You May Feel More Pain

OK.  So you don't go to church.  But you may pay a price for that.

A new study has found that people who have negative spiritual beliefs, or, as newswise.com put its, blame karma for their pain feel it, well, more.

"In general, the more religious or spiritual you are, the healthier you are, which makes sense,” says Brick Johnstone, a neuropsychologist and professor of health psychology in the MU School of Health Professions. “But for some individuals, even if they have even the smallest degree of negative spirituality – basically, when individuals believe they’re ill because they’ve done something wrong and God is punishing them – their health is worse.”

Johnstone and his colleagues studied nearly 200 individuals to find out how their spiritual beliefs affected their health outcomes. Individuals in the study had a range of health conditions, such as cancer, traumatic brain injury or chronic pain, and others were healthy.

The researchers divided the individuals into two groups: a negative spirituality group that consisted of those who reported feeling abandoned or punished by a higher power, and a no negative spirituality group that consisted of people who didn’t feel abandoned or punished by a higher power. Participants answered questions about their emotional and physical health, including physical pain.

 I've suffered from ill health (cancer) and I do agree that my belief in God and that He would take care of me, somehow, some way, helped me fight it, twice. 

Those in the negative spirituality group reported significantly worse pain as well as worse physical and mental health while those with positive spirituality reported better mental health. However, even if individuals reported positive spiritual beliefs, having any degree of negative spiritual belief contributed to poorer health outcomes, the researchers found.

“Previous research has shown that about 10 percent of people have negative spiritual beliefs; for example, believing that if they don’t do something right, God won’t love them,” Johnstone says. “That’s a negative aspect of religion when people believe, ‘God is not supportive of me. What kind of hope do I have?’ However, when people firmly believe God loves and forgives them despite their shortcomings, they had significantly better mental health.”

Individuals with negative spiritual beliefs also reported participating in religious practices less frequently and having lower levels of positive spirituality and forgiveness.

I'm not saying church, and belief in God, is the answer for everyone.  But it did help me.

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