Religion and Delusion

Ryan McKay, Robert Ross

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We review scholarship that examines relationships — and distinctions — between religion and delusion. We begin by outlining and endorsing the position that both involve belief. Next, we present the prevailing psychiatric view that religious beliefs are not delusional if they are culturally accepted. While this cultural exemption has controversial implications, we argue it is clinically valuable and consistent with a growing awareness of the social — as opposed to purely epistemic — function of belief formation. Finally, we review research on continuities between religious and delusional cognition, which reveals that religious content is quite common in delusions and which provides tentative evidence for a positive relationship between religious belief and delusion-like belief in the general population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-166
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent opinion in psychology
Early online date15 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

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