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Suffering for others as religious meaning-making: varieties, prerequisites, and functions in the coping process of a sample of practising Christians living with cancer
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
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. Vol. 19, no 6, 522-537 p.
Keyword [en]
psychology of religion, coping, religious meaning-making, suffering, cancer
National Category
Religious Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-123200DOI: 10.1080/13674676.2016.1207620ISI: 000384410100003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-123200DiVA: diva2:943779
Funder
Swedish Cancer Society
Available from: 2016-06-28 Created: 2016-06-28 Last updated: 2017-05-22Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Religiositet och coping: religionspsykologiska studier av kristna med cancer
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Religiositet och coping: religionspsykologiska studier av kristna med cancer
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
psychology of religion, religious studies, coping, coping process, coping theosy, Christians, religiosity, cancer, religionspsykologi, religionsvetenskap, coping, copingprocess, copingteori, kristna, religiositet, cancer
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
religionspsykologi
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-135078 (URN)978-91-7601-692-3 (ISBN)
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

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