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- Psychology & Psychiatry
The Question of "Resorting"
Hi gmwilliams! How's it going?
Thank you for the question: "Is religion the poor & uneducated person's psychology/psychiatry? Why?
You go on to add: "While educated & affluent people see psychologists/psychiatrists when problems arise, the uneducated & poor resort to religion as a solution to their problems.
Now then, the very first thing to say is that we should specify which country we are talking about. As an example, let's just say we're talking about the United States of America. I choose this example because, as you know, we, in the U.S., do not have single-payer universal healthcare insurance, which includes coverage for mental hygiene issues --- as they do in some Western European and even Latin American countries.
In those countries there is no question of the "poor & uneducated" having to "resort" to anything, because all citizens in those countries get the same healthcare services.
First: The "poor & uneducated" (if they have no private insurance) probably cannot afford to see "psychologists/psychiatrists" "when problems arise."
Question: What does it mean to "resort" to something?
Answer: It means to settle for "less" than either you want or feel you deserve. It also means to engage in a behavior that you feel is "beneath" you, but you do it anyway because you don't think you have a choice; you are, as it were, "between a rock and a hard place."
Let's look at your question again.
First you ask if religion is the psychology/psychiatry of the "poor & uneducated." Then, in your follow up statement, you say that the "uneducated & poor" "resort" to religion as a solution to their problems.
- If the "uneducated & poor" are "resorting" to religion, then, from their own perspective, they are settling for less.
- If the "uneducated & poor" are "resorting" to religion, then, from their own perspective, they are behaving in a way that is "beneath" themselves.
- If the "uneducated & poor" are "resorting" to religion, then, from their own perspective, they are taking an inferior option.
- If the "uneducated & poor" are "resorting" to religion, then, from their own perspective, they would prefer to use the more optimal therapeutic approach of secular psychology/psychiatry.
Certain things follow from this line of reasoning:
- If, gmwilliams, you are defining the term, uneducated, in this particular context, as having a preference for religion as a mental health therapy, over secular psychology/psychiatry...
- And if you are conversely defining the term, educated, in this particular context, as having a preference for secular psychology/psychiatry as a mental health therapy, over religion....
- And if it is true, as we have established, that, as you word the question, the "uneducated & poor" are merely "resorting" to religion....
- Then it necessarily follows that the poor are not so "uneducated," after all ---- just poor and unable to afford private secular mental health therapy, due to the fact that in the United States of America, we have no national insurance plan, like other civilized, advanced industrialized countries like ours do.
One Last Wrinkle: Psychiatry
The way you have worded the question, gmwilliams, sets up competitive, antagonistic relationship between religion and secular mental health therapy, as though one is better than the other; and, as though the two are in competition with each other.
As you know, psychiatrists can prescribe drugs.
Now, a lot of people I know, who are neither "uneducated" nor "poor" might, say, pray to Jesus about their bipolar disorder, for example. If a new, more effective for them, drug comes out, they thank Jesus and say that He had answered their prayer.
As they see it, Jesus answered their prayers through science. The new drug came into existence by God's will. What this means is that there has been no "resorting" to religion, on their part.
What I'm saying is that the simple binary of religion for the "uneducated & poor" and secular mental health therapy for the "educated & affluent" does not work.
You see, gmwilliams, these people don't say to the universe, "Okay, I need help with my bipolar disorder. Whose going to help me first? Will it be you, Lord? Or will it be you, medical science?"
As I said before, if medical science should produce a more effective drug "first," so to speak, science is not declared the "winner." These people of faith don't then say, "Alright medical science, you won this one. But hang in there, Lord, because now we move on to the 'lightning round'..."
Even if, some "miracle" should happen and their bipolar disorder gets spontaneously straightened out without any intervention, these people of faith that I know would not, then, forever turn their backs on science.
Also, what do you mean by "religion"?
Do you simply mean prayer and scripture-reading?
Or can "religion" include person-to-person counseling sessions with a pastor, imam, rabbi, or some other religious authority?
As you well know, gmwilliams, priests, rabbis, ministers, and the like are often very well "educated." They may hold PhDs in theology from some very high-powered universities, often with master's degrees in this, that, and the other as well.
Suppose a "poor & uneducated" person is a member of a Methodist church. Now suppose this parishioner takes counseling sessions with the pastor. Okay, the pastor may not be, strictly speaking, a secular psychologist/psychiatrist --- but suppose this pastor has a PhD. in theology or comparative religions, as well as a master's degree in, I don't know... anthropology, and another master's degree in... sociology.
Okay, got the scenario? A "poor & uneducated" parishioner of a Methodist church is taking counseling sessions with his pastor, who holds a PhD. in comparative religions, a master's degree in anthropology and another master's degree in sociology.
If we include these person-to-person counseling sessions as "religion," my question is this: In this situation, is this parishioner "resorting" to "religion," in the sense of "settling for less"?
I think we both know that the answer to that question is No! The fact that this parishioner chooses to work through his "problems" with this pastor is no discredit to the "poor & uneducated" parishioner.
On the other hand, as you may also know, gmwilliams, there have been many "affluent" and allegedly "educated" people who have, say, fallen in with the cult of Scientology. Years later they broke with it, and were ashamed of themselves for ever having been seduced by the ideology created by L. Ron Hubbard.
From their own perspective, then, these former Scientologists had not done themselves credit by joining the movement. Their "education" had let them down.
My point is this: The simple binary of "affluence and education"/secular psychology/psychiatry and "poverty and lack of education"/religion does not work. This seems to be the case with most simple binaries.
Thank you for reading!