The influence of religious moral beliefs on adolescents' mental stability.Psychiatr Danub. 2007 Sep; 19(3):173-83.PD
The aim of this paper is to determine the influence of religious moral beliefs on the stability of adolescents' mental health.
The sample consists of 240 mentally and physically healthy male and female adolescents attending a high school, who are divided into groups equalized by gender (male and female), age (younger 15, older 18 years); school achievement (very good, average student); behaviour (excellent, average); family structure (complete family with satisfactory family relations), and level of exposure to psycho-social stress (they were not exposed to specific traumatizing events). Subjects were assessed with regard to the level of belief in some basic ethical principles that arise from religious moral values. The score of religious moral belief index was used to compare two groups of subjects. For sample selection the measuring instruments were used to assess the religious, moral and social profile of subject. For the assessment of personality structure a standardized test battery (Freiburg's Personality Questionnaire/ Das Freiburger Personlichkeitsinventar - FPI, Profile Index of Emotions - PIE, Life Style Questionnaire - OM) was used to assess personality profile, emotional profile and subject's defence orientation.
The score of the moral belief index was negatively correlated to neuroticism and depressiveness (Pearson's r=-0.242, P<0.001; r=-0.311, P<0.001, respectively). Spontaneous and reactive aggressiveness and irritability were negatively correlated with the score of moral belief index (Pearson's r=-0.197, P=0.002; r=-0.147, P=0.023; r=-0.350, P<0.001, respectively). Emotional instability is negatively associated with the moral belief index of the investigated adolescents (Pearson's r=-0.324, P<0.001). The moral belief index was highly negatively correlated with repression (r=-0.206, P=0.001), regression (r=-0.325, P<0.001), compensation (r=-0.186, P=0.004), transfer (r=-0.290, P<0.001) and defensive orientation (r=-0.129, P=0.046). Verified intellectualisation and reactive formation are in positive correlation with the moral belief index among our investigated adolescents (Pearson's r=0.168, P=0.009; r=0.356; P<0.001, respectively).
A higher index of religious moral beliefs in adolescents enables better control of impulses, providing better mental health stability. It enables neurotic conflicts typical for adolescence to be more easily overcome. It also causes healthier reactions to external stimuli. A higher index of religious moral beliefs of young people provides a healthier and more efficient mechanism of anger control and aggression control. It enables transformation of that psychical energy into neutral energy which supports the growth and development of personality, which is expressed through socially acceptable behaviour. In this way, it helps growth, development and socialization of the personality, leading to the improvement in mental health.