057: Mental Health Benefits & Risks of Religion – Part 1

160Natasha Helfer Parker interviews Chelsea Shields Strayer, a cultural anthropologist, regarding the benefits and adverse effects of religious systems and traditions.  Chelsea discusses her work from an anthropological lens, looking at how social and religious systems organize themselves in ways that can effectively allow a group to thrive.  At the same time, they can also require great individual cost.  The discussion is rich and covers a variety of topics including: Mormon culture, the role of ritual, self-harm, faith transitions, gender inequality, coping mechanisms, physiological and psychological healing practices, placebo effects, trauma, LGBT issues, depression, sexuality, community and more!

Chelsea is a PhD candidate at Boston University in biological and cultural anthropology studying the evolution and elicitation of placebo and nocebo effects in indigenous ritual healing ceremonies. She particularly focuses on the healing rituals of the Asante in Central Ghana whom she has conducted research with for over 12 years. Chelsea is also a well known religious gender equality activist in the Mormon community, President of Mormons for ERA, co-founder of LDS WAVE (Women Advocating for Voice and Equality), and active participant in many LDS magazines, blogs, podcasts and conferences. She has participated in two TED events where she had the opportunity to speak about her research and how it applies to the everyday life of all people at both events.

Why Belonging Matters: Fellows Friday with Chelsea Shields Strayer

Mormons for ERA

WAVE: Women Advocating for Voice & Equality

Meet Chelsea Strayer

Is Gender Inequality Bad for Mental Health by Natasha Helfer Parker

Hope and Healing in the Face of LDS Current Events on Mormon Matters

Many thanks to The Lower Lights for the beautiful bumper music and to Brian Dillman for audio production of this podcast.  Natasha Helfer Parker runs a private practice in Wichita, KS and writes at The Mormon Therapist for Patheos: Hosting the Conversation of Faith.



3 comments for “057: Mental Health Benefits & Risks of Religion – Part 1

  1. February 27, 2015 at 8:33 am

    OK I confess I eat doughnuts.

    Seriously The comment that parents try to step into the coping process is great. We want to rescue and then the kid is weak.

    The comment that mental illness is on the rise, and it will be a pandemic and most people don’t know how to cope with it is accurate. How would you ans an anthropologist suggest we deal with this?

    I totally agree with knowing the body!!!! So many people don’t understand who they really are physically.

    This was a great podcast. I learned some interesting things.

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