On the Intricate Relationship between Religious Conversion and Psychosis

London Journal of Research in Humanities and Social Sciences
Volume | Issue | Compilation
Authored by Szabolcs Kéri , NA
Classification: For Code: 950404
Keywords: religious conversion, psychosis, subjective experiences, basic symptoms, self-disorder, neuropsychology.
Language: English

The relationship between religious conversion and psychosis is one of the fundamental issues at the meeting point of theology and clinical psychology. In the present study, we present the main lines of research on this relationship emphasizing the similarities and differences between emotionally turbulent religious conversion and psychosis. Some basic experiences in perception, thinking, and feeling share the same roots in these conditions. Perplexity (e.g., ambivalence, inability to discriminate between own feelings, and hyperreflectivity) and self-disorder (e.g., depersonalization, impression of a change in one's mirror image, and experience of discontinuity in own action) may be similar in psychosis and religious conversion, whereas other features (e.g., negative symptoms, social withdrawal, disorganized thinking, and persistent delusions) may be different. Regarding the content of religious thought, conversion is characterized by unique themes in contrast to psychosis. The main doctrinal focus of conversion is laid on the destruction and death of the old self, new life and resurrection by baptism into the death of Jesus Christ, and the transformative work and gifts of the Holy Spirit. In summary, perplexity, self-disorder, and emotional turmoil are common features of turbulent religious conversion and psychosis, but a broader emergence of anomalous subjective experiences and cognitive deficits are detectable only in psychosis.


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