Topics: Main Topic: Other, Mental Health, Surveys, Religious Belief, Comparisons with other communities
Abstract: Background: Some research has suggested that Jews drink less alcohol than other cultural groups, and may have different beliefs about its use. Differences in beliefs about alcohol, and different patterns of use, may play a role in accounting for cultural and gender variations in depression prevalence. Alcohol may act as an escape route from depression, thus deflating depression rates in certain groups of people, in particular, men from Protestant backgrounds. Methods: Self-reported use and beliefs about alcohol were assessed in a UK sample of 70 Jews and 91 Protestants, including non-practising people of Jewish and Protestant background. The effects of religious group and of gender on measures of alcohol behaviour and beliefs were examined. Results: Some differences were found between Jews and Protestants. Jews had less favourable beliefs about alcohol and drank less than Protestants. More importantly, and in line with our hypotheses, there were gender differences in Protestants but not Jews with respect to some beliefs about alcohol and actual use of alcohol. Conclusions: The study goes some way in supporting the notion that religious-cultural and gender differences in beliefs and behaviour towards alcohol may contribute to religious-cultural and gender differences in rates of depression.
Topics: Main Topic: Other, Orthodox Judaism, Haredi / Strictly Orthodox Jews, Psychology/Psychiatry, Mental Health
Abstract: This paper examined stress among two groups of orthodox Jews suggested to differ in the strength of the boundary of their religious group. Comparisons were made between the two groups, and with urban and rural groups studied by other researchers. Proportions of boundary-maintenance events (events whose threat had been caused or exacerbated by Jewishness) and of severe events, and proportions and rates of regular, irregular and disruptive events were examined. Boundary-maintenance events were higher among the more religiously orthodox affiliated group, and among whom religious observance was indeed reported to be higher. It was suggested that conditions of higher boundary maintenance would be associated with higher rates and proportions of regular events and with lower rates and proportions of irregular and disruptive events. Generally, the analyses supported this expectation. Boundary-maintenance events themselves were somewhat less severe, though not less likely to be irregular or disruptive than other events. Depression was shown to be unrelated to boundary-maintenance events and (surprisingly) unrelated to contextual threat when the effects of irregularity-disruption were controlled. Depression was, however, strongly related to irregular and disruptive events. The results are compared with those of related work, and suggest that the general lowering effect of affiliation to a religious group may be partly explained by the effects of boundary maintenance, which involves stress, but of a less depressogenic kind than the disruptive stress associated with conditions of low/no boundary maintenance. The findings have implications for understanding the relations between culture and mental disorder.