President’s Colleagues meeting discusses effects of religion on mental health

Stock images, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The positive and negative aspects of both individual spirituality and denominational religiousness will form the basis of Allen E. Bergin’s presentation “How Religion May Help or Hurt Mental Health” at the next President’s Colleagues of Dixie State University meeting. This free event will take place Monday at noon in the Russell C. Taylor Health Science Center, located on Dixie Regional Medical Center’s River Road campus.

Raised by a Lutheran mother and Catholic father, Bergin was an agnostic student of physical science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology before moving on to social science. He went on to explore spiritual interests for many years and eventually became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He continues to have deep interest in and respect for the diverse array of religious and spiritual traditions. Bergin’s wife, Marian, a retired clinical social worker who reintroduced him to organized religion, will also participate in the presentation and discussion.

Bergin earned a doctorate in psychology from Stanford and was a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University and then Brigham Young University before retiring in St. George. He has received national and international awards in psychology, psychiatry and religion for his analyses of religious influences on mental functioning. He has written and edited many books and articles on the topic. Additionally, he has delivered hundreds of lectures on the subject around the world.

The President’s Colleagues of Dixie State University, established more than 20 years ago by former Dixie State President Douglas Alder, is a group of retired professors and other professionals who live mostly in the Washington County area.

Event details

  • What: “How Religion May Help or Hurt Mental Health” presentation by Allen E. Bergin.
  • When: Monday, Dec. 5, at noon.
  • Where: Lecture Hall 156 of Dixie State’s Russell C. Taylor Health Science Center at Dixie Regional Medical Center’s River Road campus, 1526 E. Medical Center Drive, St. George.
  • Admission: Free. Open to the public.


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  • Christmas Bob November 30, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    The question of whether or not religious delusions are healthy for the mind is an interesting one. On the surface a lot of heavily indoctrinated mormons might seem to be the happiest people around, but I notice there is often something very off about them. The have this sort of hollow gaze in their eyes–I’ve actually noticed the look in many members of the scientology religion. It probably brings a certain sense of peace to have everything laid out for life and after death. But many people study into their religions deeply and the more they learn the harder it is to keep the delusion, which then begins to stress the mind. I believe the term is cognitive dissonance. Mormonism is an interesting one because the history is so recent that’s it’s easy to study–including even having very complete and accurate biographies on the founder. Religions like Roman catholic just seem to be a never ending maze of old history and documents –you could spend the rest of your life studying through. Anyways, I’d hope this sort of presentation includes stories of members who have given up their religions, mormonism included–i might even check it out if i get the time. But i would be skeptical of this sort of presentation coming from an heavily indoctrinated mormon presenter, esp one whose profession is psychology/psychiatry.

    • ladybugavenger November 30, 2016 at 3:08 pm

      When I look past the fake, I’m happy attitude, I have seen the empty gaze in their eyes….its sad that this icon ? has more life inside. Its the cult look that you see, Christmas Bob

      • Christmas Bob November 30, 2016 at 8:24 pm

        well it is true. I got at least 2 families on my block that are dedicated LDS’ers and they are some of the most dysfunctional people i’ve ever had as neighbors. They have children that are drug addicts & criminals–Strange traffic coming and going in the middle of the night. They do the whole churchy church thing on sundays–put up a good facade i guess. A lot of LDS’ers are great but a good many of them like to think they’re better than every other religion (holier than thou) and what not. The only real difference i’ve seen that distinguishes mormons as unique (besides attending their church) is they have on average more kids than other religions. Anyways, the whole religion thing and mormonism etc. doesn’t work for everyone–there’s actually a very active website for disaffected ex-mormons. I haven’t looked at it for awhile but the trend i noticed is they seem very bitter and angry at their former religion–basically most of them feel like they got scammed. The site can probly be found by searching ‘exmormon forum’ for those interested. I don’t doubt that religions probably bring peace to a lot of folks, but for those losing their belief and giving it up they seem a lot worse off than if they had had none to begin with. Interesting thing. Y’all have a wonderful night/day 😉

        • Christmas Bob November 30, 2016 at 8:35 pm

          “The only real difference i’ve seen that distinguishes mormons as unique (besides attending their church) is they have on average more kids than other religions”

          Also, to add to this, I’m comparing the mormonism to other religions and folks that are completely non-religious (atheists etc). Of all the places I’ve lived I’ve never noticed dedicatedly religious folks to be any more moral or charitable than any other group and that includes mormons. Seem to me there are good people and bad and religion makes very little difference in people’s behavior (in general). If they can find some joy in whatever sort of eccentric belief system or religion, I say have at it, but be careful when they start asking for cash. lol thats it for this short novel

    • .... November 30, 2016 at 11:50 pm

      LOL ! I was waiting for this because this article was made for some hateful bigot as yourself

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