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Religiositet och coping: religionspsykologiska studier av kristna med cancer
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
2017 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates the interdependence of religiosity and a life situation changed by cancer, focusing especially on the coping process. This implies analyses of a number of identified expressions of religiosity regarding prerequisites and functions in the coping process. In order to synthesize the results from the studies, the aim has been operationalized into three comprehensive research questions that were posed to each of the empirical studies of the thesis: 1) What are the functions of the analysed expressions of religiosity during the coping process? 2) What prerequisites for the influence of religiosity on the coping process can be identified?  3) How is religiosity influenced by a life situation changed by cancer? The empirical studies are presented in four separate articles. Each of the studies has its own specific research questions that are related to the comprehensive research questions. The method was qualitative and explorative. The research material was gathered with qualitative interviews of 20 Swedish informants of varying gender, age, congregational affiliation and diagnosis. The informants defined themselves as Christians and practised their Christian faith and had or had had a cancer disease. There is longitudinal data from half of the group. The theoretical framework was based on the coping theories developed by Kenneth Pargament and Ruard Ganzevoort and complemented by, among other things, the object-relations theoretical concept of transitional objects.

The results show that most of the analysed expressions of religiosity function as a preserving coping method but some of them also function as a reconstructing coping method. In some cases, the expressions of religiosity also function as methods of attributing control, either to God or to the individual. Two main groups of prerequisites for the expressions of religiosity were identified in conjunction with the coping process: contextual and psychological. The former could in turn be divided into religious and medical contexts; the latter into several different kinds, such as perceptual psychological factors, the need to create and use transitional objects, locus of control, and personality traits. Reconstructing coping methods imply varying degrees of changes in the informants’ religiosity, both regarding the analysed expression of religiosity and other expressions of religiosity. In addition to gaining insights into the interdependence of religion and coping for Christians living with cancer, the study contributes to the development of the psychology of religion coping theory by adding to the theory: 1) suggested specifications to the current concepts of Pargament’s coping theory; 2) the concept coping tool; 3) the distinction between functional and relational regarding the concepts of coping mechanism and coping method; 4) the coping mechanism attributing, and 5) the distinction between unilateral and bilateral deferring coping styles. The results indicate that the coping process can include a creative element in the form of a search for, or creation of, functional coping methods and/or coping tools which enhance the functionality of the coping process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2017. , 110 p.
Keyword [en]
psychology of religion, religious studies, coping, coping process, coping theosy, Christians, religiosity, cancer
Keyword [sv]
religionspsykologi, religionsvetenskap, coping, copingprocess, copingteori, kristna, religiositet, cancer
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
religionspsykologi
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-135078ISBN: 978-91-7601-692-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-135078DiVA: diva2:1096628
Public defence
2017-06-16, Hörsal E, humansithuset, Umeå universitet 901 87, Umeå, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Cancer Society, CAN 2006/1181
Available from: 2017-05-24 Created: 2017-05-18 Last updated: 2017-06-19Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. When Mrs B met Jesus during radiotherapy: a single case study of a christic vision : psychological prerequisites and functions and considerations on narrative methodology
Open this publication in new window or tab >>When Mrs B met Jesus during radiotherapy: a single case study of a christic vision : psychological prerequisites and functions and considerations on narrative methodology
2010 (English)In: Archive for the Psychology of Religion/ Archiv für Religionspsychologie, ISSN 0084-6724, Vol. 32, no 1, 27-68 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study analyses a Christic vision, perceived by a woman during a radiotherapy session against  her cervix cancer. A detailed description of the vision is presented based on a photographic documentation of the radiotherapy room, a painting of the vision made by the visionary herself and narratives, retold two weeks after the vision, and again, one year later. Perceptual, social, and psychodynamic psychological theories are used to analyze the psychological prerequisites of the vision. It is shown that the vision is, in psychological terms, an illusion rather than a hallucination. Different possible origin mechanisms to the vision are discussed as well as why the vision is attributed to Jesus. The psychological function of the vision is analyzed with regard to the visionary's religious behavior and the role of this experience in coping with the cancer disease. It is argued that the visionary's religious commitment is being strengthened and that the vision functions as a catalyst for already formed religious coping mechanisms. It also initiates at least one new kind of religious coping mechanism in the visionary's coping system. A critical discussion of methods in research concerning narratives of religious experiences is done in the light of the results of the analyses undertaken in this paper where some problems with deep interviews conducted at one point in time is highlighted. This kind of data collection appears more fragile when attempting to explain a phenomenon in terms of cause and events (in this case: the psychological prerequisites of the vision) than when trying to understand a phenomenon (in this case: the psychological function of the vision).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Brill Academic Publishers, 2010
Keyword
Jesus, apparition, Christic vision, vision, illusion, hallucination, coping, narrative, methodology, radiotherapy, cancer, faith, religion
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
Research subject
religionspsykologi
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-36706 (URN)10.1163/008467210X12626615185667 (DOI)000289727400003 ()
Available from: 2010-10-08 Created: 2010-10-08 Last updated: 2017-05-18Bibliographically approved
2. Religious objects and the coping process: case studies on prayer cloths as transitional objects in religious coping
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Religious objects and the coping process: case studies on prayer cloths as transitional objects in religious coping
2015 (English)In: Archive for the Psychology of Religion/ Archiv für Religionspsychologie, ISSN 0084-6724, Vol. 37, no 1, 54-83 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study addresses the psychological functions of physical religious objects in religious coping by presenting case studies on the use of prayer cloths. The cases are selected from a qualitative, in-depth interview study among Swedish practising Christians suffering from cancer, on religious experiences and expressions that serve in the process of coping with a life situation changed by the disease. It is argued that current psychological theories on coping and religion lack tools for understanding the role of physical religious objects in the process of religious coping. A theoretical framework that remedies this problem is suggested and applied to the case studies. The key feature of the theoretical framework is that it modifies and extends the coping theory of Kenneth Pargament by drawing on resources from object relations theory, especially the concept of "transitional object". The results suggests that the creation and/or handling of transitional objects is a reconstructing or preserving coping method, and that prayer cloths function as transitional objects when they (a) facilitate transition/movement between the inner subjective world and the outer objective world by being charged with significance, and (b) function as a coping tool for conserving this significance.

Keyword
psychology of religion, coping, object relations theory, transitional objects, prayer cloths, religious objects
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
religionspsykologi
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-100892 (URN)10.1163/15736121-12341301 (DOI)000350898600004 ()
Available from: 2015-03-12 Created: 2015-03-12 Last updated: 2017-05-18Bibliographically approved
3. Sanctification of health care interventions as a coping method
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sanctification of health care interventions as a coping method
2016 (English)In: Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion: Volume 27 / [ed] Andrew Village, Ralph Hood, Brill Academic Publishers, 2016, Vol. 27, 1-23 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Brill Academic Publishers, 2016
Series
Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, ISSN 1046-8064 ; 27
Keyword
coping, deferring coping style, health care interventions, psychology of religion, sanctification
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
religionspsykologi
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-102746 (URN)10.1163/9789004322035_002 (DOI)9789004322028 (ISBN)9789004322035 (ISBN)
Available from: 2015-05-04 Created: 2015-05-04 Last updated: 2017-05-22Bibliographically approved
4. Suffering for others as religious meaning-making: varieties, prerequisites, and functions in the coping process of a sample of practising Christians living with cancer
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Suffering for others as religious meaning-making: varieties, prerequisites, and functions in the coping process of a sample of practising Christians living with cancer
2016 (English)In: Mental Health, Religion & Culture, ISSN 1367-4676, E-ISSN 1469-9737, Vol. 19, no 6, 522-537 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The coping method suffering for others as religious meaning-making (SORM) is analysed regarding its varieties, prerequisites, and functions in a group (n = 10) of practising Christians living with cancer. In-depth interviews are featured in this qualitative, longitudinal study of the interdependence of religiosity and coping. A common feature of the analysed narratives is the idea that the informant's suffering would have – or at least had the potential to have – a positive effect on other individuals. This idea is identified as the "coping tool" of the coping method. Three different variants of SORM are identified, with a variety of prerequisites. The function in all cases is to conserve the significant object sense of meaning and, in some cases: survival. A case study is presented that shows how the coping method can be maintained over time by changing the coping tools of the method when they lose their efficacy in the coping process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2016
Keyword
psychology of religion, coping, religious meaning-making, suffering, cancer
National Category
Religious Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-123200 (URN)10.1080/13674676.2016.1207620 (DOI)000384410100003 ()
Funder
Swedish Cancer Society
Available from: 2016-06-28 Created: 2016-06-28 Last updated: 2017-05-22Bibliographically approved

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