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Exploring the Nature and Function of Religious Beliefs in Psychosis: A Case Study Approach

This study investigated the potential developmental, maintaining, or protective role of religious beliefs in the presentation of psychotic symptoms. It examined the ways in which individuals with psychosis might use religion to interpret and apply meaning to their experiences. The research was based upon the constructivist paradigm which attempted to understand individual perceptions of reality. A qualitative approach was used such that five male participants took part in individual semi-structured interviews on two separate occasions. These participants explored with the researcher their understanding of religious experience, psychotic experience, and the interactions between the two. A thematic analysis approach was used to analyze and organize the data, while a case study approach was used to present the stories of participants. Similarities across participants were grouped together to form themes, and these provided the basis for discussion. Key factors identified by participants as important in terms of conceptualizing religious experiences included developmental pathways, elements of faith, and meaning of faith. Similarly, factors important in the conceptualization of psychotic experiences included causative attributions, features of experience, and outcomes of experience. The associations between religion and schizophrenia were categorized into three general themes, which included religion in the content of symptoms, religion as a meaning system, and religion as a coping strategy. Together it was concluded hat religion generally functioned as a constructive framework when used to understand experiences of psychosis. Overall, findings suggest that religion can certainly act as a protective factor and increase resistance to distress typically associated with unexplainable experiences, such as the positive symptoms of psychosis.
Type of thesis
Lenny, M. (2010). Exploring the Nature and Function of Religious Beliefs in Psychosis: A Case Study Approach (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4987
The University of Waikato
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