Special Issue "Religious and Spiritual Experiences"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 September 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Hanneke Muthert
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Associate Professor, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Department Comparative Study of Religion, RUG (University of Groningen), Groningen, 9712 GK Groningen, The Netherlands
Interests: Psychology of religion; psychopathology and religion; spiritual care; disaster chaplaincy; meaning in work
Dr. Anne Austad
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Associate Professor, Faculty of Theology, Diakonia and Leadership Studies, VID Specialized University, Oslo, Norway
Interests: religious and spiritual healing experiences; psychology of religion; spiritual and existential care

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Religious and spiritual experiences are the object of investigation in many academic disciplines. Within the psychology of religion, studies of different religious and spiritual experiences play a central role (Hood, Hill, & Spilka, 2009). With its history dating to William James’s seminal book The Varieties of Religious Experiences (1902), which is a classic of the psychology of religion, the phenomenology and interpretations of different types of religious experiences as well as the function of these experiences for mental health have been well explored (Geels, 2003; Hood, 2005; Wulff, 2000). With an extensive body of literature available, what do we want to add?

In this Special Issue, we want to focus on how religious experiences are described and understood in various ways within empirical studies from contemporary religion. These religious experiences can be the main focus of a particular research project, such as in relation to mental health or in a comparative study between different religious and spiritual traditions. It can also be the case that religious experiences appear important for some participants in an empirical study with another main research orientation. Religious and spiritual experiences may be either extraordinary or more mundane, and they can relate to different religions and spiritual traditions and practices. We will not define religious experience in advance, but we are curious about how you interpret these experiences and how you link these to your topic.

  • Early career researchers are encouraged to submit articles and will be prioritized.
  • We welcome interdisciplinary studies, but they should be related to the psychology of religion in some manner.
  • Our aim is to publish articles from different religions and spiritual traditions in different countries.
  • Studies on religious/spiritual experiences and mental health are particularly welcome.

If you are interested in submitting a manuscript for consideration in this Special Issue, please email guest editors with a short description of your idea for a paper, including an outline (300 words), the method (200 words) and a short list of references (email: [email protected] and [email protected], subject: Religions abstract). Full papers are due by June 15th, 2020.

References:

Geels, A. (2003). Transforming moments. A psychological perspective on religious visions: Contemporary and historical cases. In J. A. Belzen & A. Geels (Eds.), Mysticism. A variety of psychological perspectives. New York: Rodopi.

Hood Jr., R. W. (2005). Mystical, spiritual, and religious experiences. In R. F. Paloutzioan & C. L. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (pp. 348–364). New York: The Guilford Press.

Hood Jr., R. W., Hill, P. C., & Spilka, B. (2009). The psychology of religion. An empirical approach (4th ed.). New York/London: The Guilford Press.

James, W. (1902/2010). The varieties of religious experience: A study in human nature. New York: Classic Books International.

Wulff, D. M. (2000). Mystical experience. In E. Cardenã, S. J. Lynn, & S. Krippner. Varieties of anomalous experience (pp. 397–440). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

Dr. Hanneke Muthert
Dr. Anne Austad
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • religious experience
  • spiritual experience
  • mental health
  • psychology of religion

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Introduction to the Special Issue “Religious and Spiritual Experiences”
Religions 2021, 12(5), 307; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12050307 - 28 Apr 2021
Viewed by 478
Abstract
William James’s seminal book, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902/2012), describes the phenomenology and ‘fruits’ (James 2012, p [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious and Spiritual Experiences)

Research

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Article
Reinscribing the Lived Body: A Qualitative Study of Extraordinary Religious Healing Experiences in Norwegian Contexts
Religions 2020, 11(11), 563; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11110563 - 30 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 590
Abstract
Poor health often motivates people to engage in religious and spiritual approaches to healing. However, there is limited research on such experiences from a northern European perspective. This article investigates healing experiences related to Christian faith and practices in Norway by thematic analysis [...] Read more.
Poor health often motivates people to engage in religious and spiritual approaches to healing. However, there is limited research on such experiences from a northern European perspective. This article investigates healing experiences related to Christian faith and practices in Norway by thematic analysis of 25 semi-structured interviews with individuals who have experienced healing of different ailments. In so doing, healing events across diverse contexts are characterised, and the results show that such experiences not only feature practices in which other people are present in prayer, preaching, and the laying on of hands, but also spontaneous extraordinary encounters with a divine being through visions and voices. The healing events are further described as experiences of transformational, powerful touch. In light of the lived body theory, these transformational experiences can be understood as re-inscriptions of health that are manifested in the intertwined bio–psycho–social–spiritual aspects of the body. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious and Spiritual Experiences)
Article
Out of Body, Loss of Self: Spiritual or Scary?
Religions 2020, 11(11), 558; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11110558 - 28 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 958
Abstract
The main aim of the present study is to investigate when “loss of self” results in scaredness or anxiety during or after an out-of body-experience (OBE). An OBE is an intense form of (bodily) self loss in which people have the impression that [...] Read more.
The main aim of the present study is to investigate when “loss of self” results in scaredness or anxiety during or after an out-of body-experience (OBE). An OBE is an intense form of (bodily) self loss in which people have the impression that their self is located outside their body. In a sample of respondents reporting to have had an OBE (n = 171), anxiety and different conceptualizations of “self loss” were assessed. In addition, questions were asked about meaning making processes after the OBE. Results show that there was no relationship between anxiety and self loss with a relational component (i.e., mystical experiences, positive spiritual experiences). However, there was significantly more anxiety in respondents who (1) (have) experience(d) ego loss/deconstruction, (2) have difficulties to (re)turn their attention to an internal bodily state (low mindfulness) and/or (3) experience a lack of self-concept clarity. Respondents who did not succeed in making sense of their OBE experience more anxiety, more ego loss/deconstruction, lower mindfulness and higher self-unclarity. Finally, the article examines how respondents explain their OBE (by using, for instance, medical, spiritual or psychological explanations) and how and why respondents do (not) succeed in making sense of the OBE. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious and Spiritual Experiences)
Article
Religious or Spiritual Experiences and Bipolar Disorder: A Case Study from the Perspective of Dialogical Self Theory
Religions 2020, 11(10), 527; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11100527 - 13 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 924
Abstract
In this article, a case study will be presented of a person with bipolar I disorder, who struggles to interpret his religious experiences and how they are related to the disorder. The analysis builds on a larger study into religious experiences within the [...] Read more.
In this article, a case study will be presented of a person with bipolar I disorder, who struggles to interpret his religious experiences and how they are related to the disorder. The analysis builds on a larger study into religious experiences within the context of bipolar disorder (BD). In this previous study, medical and religious explanatory models for religious experiences related to BD often appeared to go hand in hand in patients who have had such experiences. In this case study, the various ‘voices’ in the interpretation process over time will be examined from the perspective of the dialogical self theory of Hubert Hermans, in order to explore the psychological dimension of this process. The case study demonstrates that a ‘both religious and pathological’ explanatory model for religious experiences consists of a rich and changing variety of I-positions that fluctuate depending on mood episode. Structured reflection from a spiritual and from a medical perspective over the course of several years helped this person to allow space for different dialoguing ‘voices’, which—in this case—led to a more balanced attitude towards such experiences and less pathological derailment. The systematic reflection on religious experiences by the person in the case study was mainly conducted without help of mental health care professionals and was not derived from a DST perspective. It could be argued, however, that DST could be used as a helpful instrument for the exploration of both medical and spiritual ‘voices’ in the interpretation of religious experiences in both clinical practice by hospital chaplains and by other professionals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious and Spiritual Experiences)
Article
Religious Hallucinations and Religious Delusions among Older Adults in Treatment for Psychoses in the Netherlands
Religions 2020, 11(10), 522; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11100522 - 12 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 888
Abstract
Background. Although religious delusions (RDs) are common in geriatric psychiatry, we know little about their frequency and content. Our study examines the prevalence and content of religious hallucinations (RHs) and RDs and how they relate to the diagnosis and the patients’ denominational background [...] Read more.
Background. Although religious delusions (RDs) are common in geriatric psychiatry, we know little about their frequency and content. Our study examines the prevalence and content of religious hallucinations (RHs) and RDs and how they relate to the diagnosis and the patients’ denominational background and other aspects of religiousness. Methods. Semi-structured diagnostic interviews were conducted with inpatients and outpatients (N = 155, mean age 76.5) at a geriatric psychiatry department in the Netherlands. We used the Schedules for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry 2.1. Results. The prevalences of RHs and RDs were 19% and 32%, respectively. RHs were mostly auditory. There was no statistically significant difference between the prevalence of RHs in schizophrenia (17.5%) and in psychotic depression (9.4%). Compared to non-affiliated patients and mainline Protestants, RDs were significantly more prevalent in raised and current strict Protestants, especially in those with psychotic depression. RHs were more prevalent in Evangelical (e.g., Pentecostal) and strict Protestant patients. The presence of RDs was associated with several measures of religiousness (e.g., dogmatism, religious coping). Conclusions. Religion is likely to act as a symptom-formation factor for psychotic symptoms in strict Protestant older adults. More detailed research might lead to a fuller understanding of how strict religious beliefs may affect the content of psychotic symptoms and unintentionally add a component of existential suffering. It is important for mental health professionals, especially the predominantly secular professionals in the Netherlands, to recognize and address religious themes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious and Spiritual Experiences)
Article
Spiritual Well-Being and Its Role on the Sociality of Selected Catholic Religious Novices
Religions 2020, 11(7), 371; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070371 - 20 Jul 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1108
Abstract
Religion and spirituality are difficult to define and elusive to capture by standard scientific methods. Despite these challenges, the researchers aim to contribute to the growing body of knowledge on the psychology of religion by investigating the religious experience of Catholic novices and [...] Read more.
Religion and spirituality are difficult to define and elusive to capture by standard scientific methods. Despite these challenges, the researchers aim to contribute to the growing body of knowledge on the psychology of religion by investigating the religious experience of Catholic novices and their spiritual well-being. Using the Spiritual Health and Life-Orientation Measure (SHALOM) developed by John Fisher, objective data was gathered from selected individuals going through religious formation. The aim was to determine the spiritual well-being of Catholic religious novices and its implication to their sociality. The results show that there was a significant difference in the quality of relationships of each novice with themselves, other people, the environment and God. Thus, there is dissonance between the ideals of the persons in the novitiate and their lived experience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious and Spiritual Experiences)
Article
Religious Experiences of Older People Receiving Palliative Care at Home
Religions 2020, 11(7), 336; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070336 - 07 Jul 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1353
Abstract
Increasingly more older people are now being cared for in their own homes. Furthermore, it has become more common that people stay at home to receive end-of-life care. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), we analyzed the religious experiences of older people (aged 65+). [...] Read more.
Increasingly more older people are now being cared for in their own homes. Furthermore, it has become more common that people stay at home to receive end-of-life care. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), we analyzed the religious experiences of older people (aged 65+). We answered these questions: What kind of religious experiences do older people have when death is approaching? What does this tell us about their religious coping? As IPA is based on the in-depth analysis of small amounts of homogenous data, we analyzed five interviews with older people who were dying. We identified three main themes. First, religious experiences are relational, that is, deeply rooted in personal relationships. Second, religious experiences are real and can provide both struggles and comfort in the last stage of life. Third, the experience of encountering one’s mortality and planning for one’s death was calming; while many had unclear views on the afterlife, the idea of continuing bonds after death was comforting. More open discussion on religious matters, death, and dying would be welcomed as part of home-based end-of-life care. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious and Spiritual Experiences)

Review

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Review
Spiritual Needs of Older Adults during Hospitalization: An Integrative Review
Religions 2020, 11(10), 529; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11100529 - 16 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1188
Abstract
A hospital admission presents various challenges for a patient which often result in high or intense spiritual needs. To provide the best possible care for older adults during hospitalization, it is essential to assess patients’ spiritual needs. However, little research has been done [...] Read more.
A hospital admission presents various challenges for a patient which often result in high or intense spiritual needs. To provide the best possible care for older adults during hospitalization, it is essential to assess patients’ spiritual needs. However, little research has been done into the spiritual needs of geriatric patients. This article seeks insight into what is known in the literature on the spiritual needs of geriatric patients. This integrative review presents a summary of the articles on this topic. To select eligible studies, the PRISMA Flow Diagram was used. This resulted in ten articles that have been reviewed. Results show (1) a wide interest in researching spiritual needs, using different research designs. In addition, (2) four subcategories of spiritual needs can be distinguished: (a) the need to be connected with others or with God/the transcendent/the divine, (b) religious needs, (c) the need to find meaning in life, and (d) the need to maintain one’s identity. Moreover, results show that (3) assessing spiritual needs is required to provide the best possible spiritual care, and that (4) there are four reasons for unmet spiritual needs. Further research is needed on the definition of spiritual needs and to investigate older patients’ spiritual needs and the relation with their well-being, mental health and religious coping mechanisms, in order to provide the best spiritual care. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious and Spiritual Experiences)
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