A Comparison of Causes and Methods of Treating Anxiety from Perspective of Qur’an, Old Testament and New Schools of Psychology

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Ph.D. Student , Department of Quran and Hadith Sciences, Islamic Azad University, Hamadan Branch, Hamada, Iran,

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Quran and Hadith Sciences, Islamic Azad University, Tuyserkan Branch, Tuyserkan, Iran

3 Faculty Member , Department of Quran and Hadith Sciences, Islamic Azad University, Hamadan Branch, Hamada, Iran

10.22034/ijce.2020.231565.1150

Abstract

Anxiety has become one of the most common mental illnesses in the new millennium. The pressures of modern life, along with the rise of political crises such as war, have increased the number of people with mental illness around the world. At the same time, role of religion in human life has increased. Therefore, the aim of this study is to compare causes and treatment of anxiety from perspective of the Qur'an and the Old Testament with new schools of psychology. This research has been done with a historical comparative approach. The method of data collection is documentary from the main sources - the Qur'an and the Old Testament - as well as secondary sources - books and articles - and method of data analysis is based on adoption of micro-analysis model. The first findings of study showed that view of the Qur'an and the Old Testament on disorder of anxiety is basically based on separation of "worldly anxiety" from "otherworldly anxiety". The Qur'an, the Old Testament, and the new schools of psychology also agree on the division of anxiety into good and bad. Second finding shows that modern schools of psychology insist on secular methods of treating anxiety, while the most important methods of treating anxiety from a Qur'an and Old Testament perspectives are religious advice. Considering the findings of study, it seems that use of scientific solutions by psychologists combined with use of religious recommendations can be more effective in reducing anxiety.

Highlights

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Keywords

Main Subjects


Article Title [Persian]

مقایسه علل و شیوه های درمان اضطراب از دیدگاه قرآن ، عهدعتیق و مکاتب جدید روانشناسی

Authors [Persian]

  • معصومه جوادیان 1
  • علی حسین احتشامی 2
  • سید حمید حسینی 3
1 دانشجوی دکتری ، گروه علوم قرآن وحدیث ، دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی همدان ، همدان ، ایران
2 استادیار ، گروه علوم قرآن وحدیث ، دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی تویسرکان، تویسرکان ، ایران
3 مربی ، گروه علوم قرآن و حدیث،واحد همدان ، دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی، همدان ،ایران.
Abstract [Persian]

اضطراب به یکی ازشایع ترین بیماری های روانی در هزاره جدید مبدل شده است. فشارهای زندگی مدرن همراه با افزایش بحران های سیاسی همچون جنگ بر تعداد مبتلایان به بیماری های روانی در گوشه وکنار جهان افزوده است. همزمان نقش مذهب در زندگی بشر با رنسانسی دوباره ، افزایش یافته است. با توجه به این حقایق ، هدف پژوهش حاضر مقایسه علل و درمان اضطراب از دیدگاه قرآن و عهد عتیق با مکاتب جدید روانشناسی است. این پژوهش با رهیافت تطبیقی تاریخی برای جمع آوری داده ها از روش اسنادی (منابع اصلی شامل قرآن و عهد عتیق ) و منابع ثانویه - کتب و مقالات – استفاده و روش تحلیل داده ها مبتنی بر اتخاذ الگوی تحلیل خرد است . نخستین یافته تحقیق نشان داد که اصولا نوع نگاه قرآن و عهد عتیق به اختلال اضطراب مبتنی بر جداسازی اضطراب دنیوی از اضطراب اخروی است . هم چنین قرآن ، عهد عتیق و مکاتب جدید روانشناسی در تقسیم انواع اضطراب به دو گروه خوب و بد با یکدیگر توافق دارند.  یافته دیگر تحقیق نشان می دهد مکاتب مدرن روانشناسی به شیوه های دنیویی درمان اضطراب اصرار می ورزند ، در حالی که مهم ترین شیوه های درمان اضطراب از دیدگاه قرآن و عهد عتیق معطوف به توصیه های مذهبی است. با عنایت به یافته های تحقیق به نظر می رسد برای کاهش اضطراب بهره گیری روانشناسان از راه حل های علمی توام با کاربست آموزه های دینی موثرتر باشد.

Keywords [Persian]

  • اضطراب
  • قرآن
  • عهدعتیق
  • درمان
  • مکاتب روانشناسی

 

  1. 1.     Introduction

 

         Anxiety has always been associated with human nature, and human anxiety today is a reaction to the rapid growth of technology, pressures of urbanization, communication disruptions, moral disintegration, social change, and individual conflicts which increasingly threatens human life (Ayman and Ruth, 2010). The World Health Organization report shows that about 6% of the world's population suffers from mental illness, and onset of 80% of physical illnesses is due to these disorders (Mousavi, Arab, Borhani, Ryani, and Moniri, 2015). Also according to the report of this organization total number of people living with depression in the world is 322 millionand number of people living with depression increased by 18.4% between 2005 and 2015 (WHO, 2017 ) .

           In addition to psychologists, experts in various sciences offer solutions to the problem of anxiety. Meanwhile, religious scholars believe that religious teachings can provide effective solutions to reduce anxiety (Chelladurai, Dollahite, and Marks. 2018). These religious solutions can support or contradict the views of popular schools in psychology, although acceptance of the influence or non-influence of religious teachings on the reduction of mental illness can be greatly influenced by personal beliefs. However, what cannot be denied is that over the last half century, the tendency of nations to religion and its role in various spheres of life - especially politics - has been rise (Najar, Najar, & Sultan, 2017). This upward trend has caused many national and international conflicts to become religious (Huntington, 1993). In this case, we are dealing with two realities: First, nowadays many political-religious conflicts are the source of the greatest psychological crises for humanity. To prove this fact, it is enough to look at the tragic events of last three decades in the form of religious terrorism in countries such as the United States (New York), Spain (Madrid), France (Paris), Indonesia (Bali) and especially the Middle East (Neumann, 2008). Second, millions of people consider one of the best ways to escape the psychological consequences of political-religious violence to resort to the soothing teachings of religions. They all have a strong heartfelt belief that religion can protect them from the psychological pressures of bitter events such as war, forced migration, unemployment and poverty (Ano and Vasconcelles, 2005).

        The high combination of these two strange realities can be seen today in areas of the world where people face with great amount of stress. The Middle East is at the forefront of these areas, which, on the one hand, is the original source of the Abrahamic religions and, on the other hand, witnesses main conflict among followers of these religions (Chilton, 2008). However, the breadth of the political-religious conflict in the Middle East should not cause us to make the mistake of claiming that the people of this region are belligerent and violent. The third fact is that the majority of the people of the Middle East are ordinary people who do not support violence and war, believe in the Abrahamic religions, respect the prophets, have many common religious rites, and consider religious beliefs to be their worldly and otherworldly peace. Thus, the three major religions of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism seem to emphasize use of methods to reduce stress of mental illness - such as anxiety - which can be called a "religious approach to combating mental illness"; an approach whose practical guide is the holy books of these religions (Nejati, 2003). But the question here is whether in the new millennium and in the 21st century, a religious answer can be found to the causes and methods of combating mental illness, such as anxiety. If our answer to this question is yes, to what extent can we find similarities and differences between this religious answers and the prevailing theories in psychological schools about anxiety? Accordingly, the major object of this study is to compare causes and methods of treating anxiety from perspective of the Qur'an and the Old Testament with the new schools of psychology. The sub-objectives of the research are:

 

  • First: Identification and explanation of causes and methods of treating anxiety from perspective of Qur'an
  • Second: Identification and explanation of causes and methods of treating anxiety from perspective of Old Testament
  • Third: Identification and explanation of causes and methods of treating anxiety from perspective of psychological schools
  • Fourth: Identification of similarities and differences among Qur'an, Old Testament and schools of psychology perspectives on causes and methods of treating anxiety.

 

2. Research Background

 

  Anxiety is a natural emotion in humans, which everyone experiences in a part of their lives. Everybody also experiences anxiety in different ways. Some people have a pervasive anxiety disorder that can be controlled, but usually never completely goes away. Others suffer from severe anxiety attacks. People with anxiety disorders have irrational fears and excessive worries about everyday situations. These emotions disrupt daily life, are difficult to control, and persist for a long time (Lacan, 2017). Studies show that more than a third of adults suffer from neurological and psychological disorders, especially anxiety. Anxiety is more common in women and adults than in children (Shafieh Abadi and Nasari, 2016). Much research has been done on the role of religion and spirituality in treatment of mental illness, including anxiety (Koszycki, Raab, Aldosary, & Bradwejn, 2010; Levin, 2009; Miller, & Thoresen, 2003; Post, & Wade, 2009; Glas, 2007; Smith, McCullough, & Poll, 2003).

          On the one hand, some psychologists may not have much credit for the role of religion in the treatment of mental illness. In fact, as Ray (2008 p.9) rightly points out "Modern psychiatry has neglected the spiritual dimension of the human mind and the theology concept of suffering as meaningful suffering by clinging to the traditional causality principle and rationalistic orientations without clarifying the concepts of religion, spirituality, culture, and mental health." However, there is strong support for effective role of religion and spirituality in improving mental states. For example, in the latest report Lerman , Jung , Arredondo, Barnhart, Cai & Castañeda (2018) highlighted that strong religiosity mitigates symptoms of depression and anxiety, by providing a social support system and a stable community of likeminded individuals to serve as a coping mechanism, by providing positive outlooks on stressful situations . Agorastos, Demiralay & Huber, (2014) believe that Religiosity/spirituality and personal beliefs constitute important parameters of human experience and deserve greater consideration in the psychotherapeutic treatment of psychiatric disorders. Shiah, Chang, Chiang, Lin, & Tam (2007) in their research examined the association among anxiety, religiosity, meaning of life andmental health in a nonclinical sample from a Chinese society. They found that meaning of life has a significant negative correlation with anxiety and a significant positive correlation with mental health and religiosity. Glas (2007) showed how religious and spiritual issues are associated with anxiety in a clinical (psychiatric) condition. Also Koenig, (2009,p. 289) in review of studies on mental health in different settings (such as medical, psychiatric, and the general population), in different ethnic backgrounds (such as Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, and Native American), in different age groups (young, middle-aged, and elderly), and in different locations (such as the United States and Canada, Europe, and countries in the East) found that religious involvement is related to better coping with stress and less depression, suicide, anxiety, and substance abuse. In addition, A literature review by Ukst-Margetic and Margetic (2005) explore the association between anxietyand spirituality amongst individuals who have chronic or life-threatening illnesses. These researchers also found that heart transplant patients that attended church frequently reported less anxiety and had higher self-esteem than those who attended less frequently.

       In Iran, several studies have been conducted on the effect of religious beliefs on stress. For example, Shafiee Ronizi (2016), Khorramdin (2016), Jabbari (2017), Karimi (2014) and Yaghoubi, Mohammadi Nia and Kolahdozan (2011) found that anxiety is one of the common problems in Iranian society. The researchers also found that many people believed in religious beliefs in treatment of anxiety. WeissKarami and Moadab (2010) believe that modern psychologists neglected the divine spirit and focused, only on the psyche of individuals. Therefore, instead of the general concept of health, modern psychologists have only dealt with psychological health - in a negative way and in the form of anxiety and stress-. Yaghoubi Suraki (2014) believes that the Qur'an refers to two groups of major cognitive and behavioral strategies to deal with anxiety. Shirazi (2009) in the study "Factors of heart relaxation and anxiety relief in the light of verses and hadiths" found that belief in resurrection and religious beliefs play an important role in reducing anxiety. Bayani, Goodarzi, Bayani, and Kouchaki (2008) found that there is a significant inverse relationship between students' religious orientation and anxiety and depression. They also found that students' depression and anxiety decreased with increasing religious orientation. Alavi (2001) believes that the Qur'an mentions two types of positive and negative anxiety. According to Hosseini (1994), there are methods in Islam to deal with failures and to deal with anxiety. These methods can be divided into three general groups: "cognitive", "behavioral" and "emotional". In summary, all research has mentioned effect of religion on reducing stress, but the most prominent feature of present study is a comparative study on Islam, Judaism and new schools of psychology on anxiety.

 

3. Research Method

 

           In the present study, a comparative historical approach is used to examine the views of Islam, Judaism, and the schools of psychology. The data collection method is a documentary method of the main sources - the Qur'an and the Old Testament - as well as the secondary sources - books and articles. The data analysis method is based on the adoption of the micro-analysis model and its theoretical approach is an interpretive model that is based on the analysis of the relationship between culture and the text of the document (Ahmadzadeh, 2015).

 

4. Results

 

         The results of current study are present in three sections. In the first part, the causes of anxiety are examined. Second section deals with treatment of anxiety. In the third section, we examine similarities and differences of perspectives of Qur'an, Old Testament, and different schools of psychology on anxiety. Before presenting the results, it is necessary to give a brief explanation about the two main documents studied - the Qur'an and the Old Testament - as well as the schools of psychology considered by researchers.

The Qur'an, the Muslim holy book, has 30 chapters and 144 suras. In a few verses, the Qur'an introduces itself as last heavenly books and rejects revelation of the heavenly book after itself (Sadeghi Tehrani, 2009). The Christian Bible is divided into two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament, which contains 66 authentic books. The Old Testament consists of 39 books and the New Testament consists of 27 books. The Old Testament has three translations into Persian, namely Old Translation, Holy Translation, and Interpretive Translation. In the present study, only the contents of Old Testament are examined. Also, among the schools or approaches of psychology, in the present study, only the views of three schools of Gestalt, existentialism, and socio-culturalism are examined.

 

Part One: Causes of Anxiety

 

In this section, and in three parts, the causes of anxiety in Qur'an, Old Testament, and schools of psychology are examined separately:

 

1) Causes of anxiety in Quran

  

    There is talk in various parts of the Qur'an about anxiety, which mainly refers to historical events related to previous prophets or Prophet of Islam and his companions. For example, the anxiety of Abu Bakr (first Muslim caliph) due to the attack of the infidels of Mecca (Surah Tawbah, verse 40), anxiety of David (Surah Sa, verse 22), anxiety of the disbelievers from divine punishment (Surah Al-Imran, verse 151 and Surah Anfal, verse 12), Lot's anxiety (Surah Hud, verse 77), Ibrahim's anxiety (Surah Al-Hijr, verse 52.), Musa's mother's anxiety (Surah Qasas, verses 7 and 10), Maryam's anxiety (Surah Maryam, verses 20, 23 and 24), anxiety of hypocrites (Surah Tawbah, verses 56, 57 and 45), anxiety of believers (Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 214.), and anxiety of Resurrection (Surah An-Naml, verse 87).

      The Qur'an also uses a variety of terms, such as confusion, fear, apprehension, abstinence, and anxiety. However, Islamic sources suggest that the word fear corresponds to anxiety (Fatehinejad, 2015). Hosseini (1994) believes that according to the Qur'an, anxiety is result of conflict between nature and lust in human beings. Mullah Ahmad Naraghi (1150-1208) in his famous work "Me'raj al-Sa'ada" believes that according to the Qur'an, there are two types of natural or praiseworthy anxiety, and morbid or reprehensible anxiety. Disease anxiety is the vague fear of the ungodly and fearlessness caused by domination of illusory power and weakening of the power of reason in individual. Praise or applause is fear of God and sins and transgressions. This fear is not only reprehensible, but also one of the greatest virtues and it causes one to forsake sins and perform righteous deeds (Naraghi, 1999). According to Qur'an, the side effects of anxiety are desire to die (Surah Maryam, verses 23 and 24) and revelation of secret (Surah Qasas, verse 10). Anxious factors in Qur'an include war (Surah Al-Ahzab, verses 9 and 10.), the earthquake of Resurrection (Surah Al-Hajj, verses 1 and 2), rumors (Surah Al-Ahzab, verse 60), polytheism (Surah Al-Imran, verse 151), storm and trouble (Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 214), Siege (Surah Al-Ahzab verses 9 and 10), Opposition to God (Surah Anfal verses 12 and 13), and Separation from the child (Surah Yusuf, verse 13) (‌ Fooladvand, 2005).

 

2) Anxiety in the Old Testament

 

          In the Old Testament, there is an old translation of 17 verses for the word anxiety. For example, Genesis 34 verse 30, First Kings verse 41, Second Chronicles 15 verse 5 and Ayob chapter 33 verse 19. In the Old Testament interpretive translation, 9 verses are mentioned for the word anxiety (McDonald, 1995). In the Old Testament, anxiety was spoken of in such a way that it seemed obvious and did not provide a definition of what anxiety was, and only mentioned the symptoms known to describe anxiety among the general public. God also speaks in the Old Testament of sending curses and anxieties to those who do not obey His commands and duties. Also, all the curses and punishments described in the verses of the Old Testament are natural or human tragedies that have generally been experienced in ancient world (Kazemian, 2019). In addition, in Old Testament, for anxiety, various causes such as disobedience and abandonment of divine commandments, sin, resurrection, death, oppression, war, famine, disease, loss of status, imprisonment and captivity, destruction of residence, loneliness, and blame of parents is mentioned.

 

               3) Causes of anxiety in psychological schools

 

       From the Gestalt school's point of view, anxiety is a psychological problem that almost all human beings experience throughout life and to varying degrees, but as it increases and reaches a level that causes distress and conflict, it known as a disorder (Keshavarz Afshar, Haj Hosseini and Ghadimi, 2016). Gestaltists, unanimously, attribute the cause of anxiety to fear of future (Haji Hassani, Saadipour, Jafari Nejad and Rostami, 2012). The school of existentialism defines anxiety as the fear created by endangerment of one of fundamental values of one's life and divides it into two groups: normal anxiety and neurotic anxiety (May, 1999). It seems that when a person gets rid of the daily routines of life and mental preoccupation with minor things disappears. At this time, if a person pays attention to the world of existence, he will have an inner state of “confusion" and then a state of anxiety and ferment. This condition is called "anxiety" (Noor Alizadeh Mianji and Jan Bozorgi, 2010). Existentialists also believe that four different types of threats cause existential anxiety: death, lack of meaning (emptiness), sin, and freedom (Astad, 2011). Another new school of psychology is socio-cultural approach. Theorists of this view focus on several influential factors, but their common feature is that they consider cause of mental disorders to be factors outside the individual - that is, social and cultural factors – (Horwitz, 2010). Also, from the perspective of socio-cultural theorists, generalized phobia and anxiety disorders are more common in those who face dangerous social pressures and situations (Enrite and Powell, 2008).

 

Part Two: Treatments for Anxiety

 

1) Methods of treating anxiety in Quran

 

        The Holy Qur'an has some strategies for treating and relieving anxiety. The first solution is to mention God to cure the anxieties and fears (Qaraati, 2009). The second solution is to follow the instructions of the Messenger of God and maintain discipline. The third solution is patience and doing good deeds (Mousavi Hamedani, 2005).

 

              2) Methods of treating anxiety in Old Testament

 

         In both the Old and New Testaments, anxiety and calmness have been repeatedly mentioned, and words such as "God of Hope", "God of Amen", "God of Love" and "Peace of Christ" have been used in the face of difficulties and hardships. Faith in God, faith in Christ and Holy Spirit, benevolence, search for honor, faith in immortal life, lack of attachment to carnal affairs, obedience to spiritual matters, and gratitude have been cited as ways to treat anxiety and a source of peace.

 

 

3) Methods of treating anxiety in psychological schools

 

        Gestalt therapists prescribe Gestalt therapy to treat anxiety. Gestalt therapy deals with the whole existence of a person, which is more than the sum of his behaviors. This is a method that considers human experience as a source of data and emphasizes the experience of therapists and references to reality (Nazari, Mohammadi, Naziri, 2014; Soleimani, Baba Nejadi, Ghanami, 2014). Gestalt's goal is to help a person increase their experience through awareness. In the shadow of consciousness, one can recognize an unfinished situation or work and deal with it correctively. Unfinished work is the same unsatisfied needs that make up the incomplete Gestalts. Unfinished situations and affairs usually bring a lot of force and pressure and severely affect person's behavior (Haji Hassani, Saadipour; Jafari Nejad, Rostami, 2013).

        Existential psychotherapy in the face of difficulties mainly emphasizes the themes of life. These themes are: death and life, freedom, responsibility, meaning of life and feeling of emptiness, and establishing honest relationships with others (Sharf, 2017). Existential therapists view man as a creature that makes sense of his life. Therefore, existentialists do not use any specific treatment guidelines.

       In socio-cultural approach, mediators and moderators are used to treat anxiety (Miyazak, 1992). Followers of this approach believe that anxiety and mental disorders are not inevitable consequences of unpleasant events and stresses in life; because not everyone who is exposed to the same stress necessarily suffers from the same physical and mental disorders. Therefore, followers of this approach seek to identify mediating and social moderating factors that affect process of converting stress and anxiety into mental disorders.

 

Part 3: Similarities and differences

 

       After explaining the views of Qur'an, Old Testament and schools of psychology on the issue of anxiety, the present section compares them.

 

A) Comparison of anxiety in the Qur'an and the Old Testament

 

       There are similarities and differences between Qur'an and Old Testament about nature of anxiety. In the Qur'an, anxiety is used in the sense of confusion, fear, apprehension, abstinence, possibility of unpleasant things and fear, and is divided into two categories: praiseworthy and reprehensible. There are also several consequences on anxiety in the Qur'an, some of which are negative or positive, such as pay attention to God, wishing for death, revealing secrets, seeking help, creating an abnormal state, failure, escape, and abortion. In the Old Testament, anxiety is considered a curse from God to disobedient servants, which is divided into two categories: praiseworthy and reprehensible. Symptoms of anxiety in the Old Testament include fear, anxiety, worry, and inability to pregnant. There are many similarities between the Qur'an and the Old Testament in terms of the origin of anxiety, and both books attribute the causes of anxiety to two worldly and otherworldly dimensions. The main difference between the two books is that the Qur'an refers to anxiety in more detail and in several chapters and verses, and provides more reasons for it. The therapies offered by the Qur'an and the Old Testament in the treatment of anxiety are also very similar.

 

B) Comparison of anxiety in modern schools of psychology

 

            Gestalt's approach holds that anxiety is about understanding the gap between present and future. The existential approach considers anxiety as a fear that is formed as a result of endangering fundamental values ​​of a person's life (Norcross, and Prochaska, 2011). The socio-cultural approach believes that the source of anxiety is society. In all three approaches, anxiety is divided into two groups that require treatment and those that do not. All three approaches to anxiety provide different signs and symptoms. In terms of Gestalt approach, anxiety symptoms include sleep problems, decreased concentration, and physical problems such as fatigue, headaches, tension, and muscle aches. Symptoms of anxiety in existential approach include feelings of anxiety, severe tremors, feelings of restlessness, feelings of constant tiredness, shortness of breath, excessive sweating, confusion, insomnia, digestive problems, and negative thinking. Symptoms of anxiety in terms of sociocultural approach include depressive illness, recognizable physical and mental disorders, alcohol consumption, and physical illness.

            Regarding the causes of anxiety, all three schools of psychology have presented different reasons (Dadsatan, 1396).Gestalt's approach considers the causes of anxiety to be the absence in present, excessive effort to control environment, worries about issues such as health, income, family problems, fear of future, and intellectual rumination (Oblaw and Dupallo, 2006). Existential approach emphasis on variables such as death and nothingness, repressed fears, guilt, violation of moral values, threats to social freedoms, emptiness and fear of loneliness as a causes of anxiety. The socio-cultural approach also includes causes of anxiety disorder: life experiences, ambiguity and uncertainty, conflict, dangerous social situations, daily events and troubles, divorce, dismissal and unemployment, poverty, illness and death of family and friends, war, political repression, and unequal distribution of resources and opportunities in society (Sadok, and Sadok, 2001).

          Regarding the treatment of anxiety, there are different opinions between three psychological approaches. Gestalt therapy includes moving toward the whole, pay attention to time and present situation, gaining maximum awareness, getting rid of past fears, interacting with environment, and taking responsibility (Taseg, Miklo, Subadi, 2007). The existential approach considers treatment of anxiety to be honesty, awareness, cognition of client's mental world, and focus on client's current situation. The socio-cultural approach also introduces use of mediating and moderating sources of stress and anxiety, such as social support and reaction strategies (Hayward, Owen, Koenig, Steffens, & Payne, 2012). Therefore, it can be concluded that all three psychological schools have offered different approaches to treating anxiety. Gestalt and existential approaches are more focused on anxious person and changing his mentality, while the socio-cultural approach emphasizes on role of society and culture (Riahi and Rahbari, 2014). Also, all three schools recommended psychotherapist intervention in acute stages of anxiety.

 

C) Comparison of anxiety in Qur’an, Old Testament and modern schools of psychology

 

         A brief comparison of views of schools of Gestalt, existentialism, and socio-culturalism with the Qur'an and Old Testament is as follows:

 

  • First, in modern schools of psychology, more precise definitions of anxiety are provided opposite to religious books.
  • Second, there are similarities between Qur'an, Old Testament, and schools of psychology for accepting that anxiety is a human problem.
  • Third, there are similarities between Qur'an, Old Testament, and schools of psychology for accepting idea that anxiety can have positive and negative consequences on human life.
  • Fourth, there is a similarity between Qur'an and Old Testament with schools of psychology in accepting the idea that many causes of anxiety can be related to socio-cultural issues and problems.
  • Fifth, there is a difference between Qur’an, Old Testament and schools of psychology in accepting the idea that anxiety can be divided into two groups i.e. "the anxiety of this world" and "the anxiety of that world."

 

Regarding the comparison of causes of anxiety in modern schools of psychology, Qur'an and Old Testament, five general groups of death and religious and otherworldly affairs, economic causes and everyday problems, socio-cultural issues, extra wasteful thinking and physical issues should be mentioned. In terms of two criteria of superfluous thinking and physical problems and issues, it should be noted that psychological approaches agree on the effect of these two causes on anxiety, citing different examples, but the Qur'an does not mention any of them and the Old Testament only mentions physical issues.  Of all the factors, the Qur'an, Old Testament, and three schools of psychology agree on role of life's problems in causing anxiety (Table 1).

 

Table 1:

Comparison of main causes of anxiety in Qur'an, Old Testament and schools of psychology

Physical issues

Extra wasteful thinking

Socio-cultural issues

Economic causes

Religious and otherworldly affairs

Perspectives

Physical disorders

Control of environment, rumination,

Community Relations

Poverty and family issues

Fear of future, and death

Gestalt

Concern about physical health

Awareness of basic concerns

 

Fear of freedom

Material problems

Violation of moral values

Existential approach

Fear of illness and death of loved ones

Ambiguity and uncertainty, conflict

Social pressures, war, political repression,

divorce, dismissal and unemployment

Fear of death

Socio-cultural approach

-

-

War, siege, rumor

Storm, entanglement, separation from the child

 

Resurrection earthquake, polytheism

 

Qur'an

Hunger, disease, life safety

Untimely thinking

 

Loss of position, war, famine

 

Natural disasters, betrayal, adultery

 

Resurrection, sin, death

 

Old Testament

 

 

5. Conclusion

 

           In the last half century, anxiety has become one of the most common disorders in all human societies. Throughout history, religion has come to the aid of humanity to reduce the negative effects of anxiety. This role can be considered one of the commonalities of all religions. Temples, mosques, churches and synagogues are full of people praying in times of crisis. These crises have taken on various facets, such as war, infectious diseases, economic pressures, and family problems. For this reason, and especially in last three decades, the tendency towards religion has been on the rise in all human societies. At the same time, some of new problems stem from the conflict between religions, which has also affected lives of ordinary people. These religious conflicts in the Middle East are mainly between followers of the three religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, while all of them, as Abrahamic religions, have much in common.

With this in mind, the present researchers tried to show how the two holy books of Muslims and Christians define anxiety in today's troubled world. What are the causes of anxiety and what are the solutions to treat it and to what extent there are similarities between religions and modern psychological approaches on anxiety? The first findings of study showed that perspectives of two religions of Islam and Christianity are similar with modern schools of psychology in terms of attention to the psychological pressures on human beings - such as anxiety, fear, lust, anger and sadness. This finding is consistent with the results of Vaillant (2008), Koenig, McCullough, and Larson (2001) and Wilson, (2002) research.

The second finding of study showed that Qur'an, Old Testament and modern schools of psychology agree that anxiety is a long-standing human problem. This finding supports the findings of Ellison, & Fan, (2008); Fredrickson, (1998); George, Ellison, & Larson, (2002); Johnson, Rowatt, & LaBouff, (2010) and Van’t Hof, Cuijpers, and Stein, (2009). The third finding of study showed that in principle, the type of religion's view of anxiety is based on its division into worldly and otherworldly anxiety, while psychological schools are not so concerned about otherworldly anxiety - except in the case of death and see it as a result of human behaviours. In addition, there are many researchers who reject division of anxiety as a phenomenon of this world and that world (Kapuscinski, & Masters, 2010; Lukoff, Lu, & Yang, 2011; Pargament, Ano, & Wachholtz, 2005; Pargament, Murray-Swank, Magyar, & Ano, 2005).

The fourth finding showed that Gestalt's approach examines anxiety as part of a whole, while existentialists emphasize on role of individual, and socio-cultural approach values role of social and cultural factors. However it seems that the view of Qur'an and Old Testament is more comprehensive than schools of psychology’s perspectives, because anxiety is described as a phenomenon whose scope is not limited to the current world. This finding has been confirmed by other studies that have suggested that schools of psychology are one-dimensional (Ghorbani, 2018). This research shows that modern schools of psychology seek to treat anxiety through change in the individual, in society, and in the minds of human beings, while the main solution of Qur'an and Old Testament is to pay attention to God's role and establish a new relationship between ‘self’ and Him. Thus, given the increasing role of religions among the peoples of the world - especially Christianity and Islam - and the fact that modern schools of psychology alone have not been able to provide a comprehensive solution to reduce human anxiety, it seems that a combination of modern psychological solutions with religious teachings should be used to solve anxiety.

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