Religion and Psychiatry in the Age of Neuroscience

James Phillips, Fayez El-Gabalawi, Brian A. Fallon, Salman Majeed, Joseph P. Merlino, Jenifer A. Nields, David Saunders, Michael A. Norko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In recent decades, an evolving conversation among religion, psychiatry, and neuroscience has been taking place, transforming how we conceptualize religion and how that conceptualization affects its relation to psychiatry. In this article, we review several dimensions of the dialogue, beginning with its history and the phenomenology of religious experience. We then turn to neuroscientific studies to see how they explain religious experience, and we follow that with two related areas: the benefits of religious beliefs and practices, and the evolutionary foundation of those benefits. A final section addresses neuroscientific and evolutionary accounts of the transcendent, that is, what these fields make of the claim that religious experience connects to a transcendent reality. We conclude with a brief summary, along with the unresolved questions we have encountered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-523
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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