I have always been interested in the connections between mental disorders and religion. Perhaps the association is more obvious in a religious culture such as the one where I live (Utah County), where it seems that the more severe the psychotic symptoms the more likely the disorder will have religious components. Sometimes the connection can be funny. When I worked at the state hospital as a grad student, I enjoyed listening to conversations between patients with various religious delusions (one thing they all seemed to agree on was that the occasional overhead helicopter was from the UN).
Black helicopters aside, I still wonder if my patients didn’t have a more direct line to God than I did. On the other hand, I have noticed that often the presence of depression or (interestingly) autism-spectrum disorders can leave a person feeling a painful absence of God.
Here is a very good post at one of my favorite bloggernacle sites relating the experience of a person with bipolar disorder–the spiritual elation of the manic phase, and the horrible sense of being abandoned by God during the depressive phase. Reading this post helps me better understand my own patients’ experiences and ambivalence about religion.