Research articles on hearing voices and spirituality and related topics.
Spirituality and hearing voices: considering the relation
McCarthy-Jones S, Waegeli A, Watkins J. . Psychosis. 2013;5(3):247-258. doi:10.1080/17522439.2013.831945.
For millennia, some people have heard voices that others cannot hear. These have been variously understood as medical, psychological and spiritual phenomena. In this article we consider the specific role of spirituality in voice-hearing in two ways. First, we examine how spirituality may help or hinder people who hear voices. Benefits are suggested to include offering an alternative meaning to the experience which can give more control and comfort, enabling the development of specific coping strategies, increasing social support, and encouraging forgiveness. Potential drawbacks are noted to include increased distress and reduced control resulting from placing frightening or coercive constructions on voices, social isolation, the development of dysfunctional beliefs, and missed/delayed opportunities for successful mental health interventions. After examining problems surrounding classifying voices as either spiritual or psychotic, we move beyond an essentialist position to examine how such a classification is likely to be fluid, and how a given voice may move between these designations. We also highlight tensions between modernist and postmodernist approaches to voice-hearing.
Seeing the unseen, hearing the unsaid: hallucinations, psychology and St Thomas Aquinas
Simon McCarthy-Jones, Department of Psychology, Durham University, Durham, UK, Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Volume 14, Issue 4 April 2011 , pages 353 – 369
Abstract: Psychologists referring to St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) in the context of hallucinations have neither accurately portrayed his conceptions of such experiences nor critically examined his alleged personal experience of them. This paper first examines Aquinas’ conception of what are termed auditory and visual hallucinations. It is shown that he allowed both natural and supernatural explanations for such experiences, with both accounts acknowledging an underlying physical cause. Contrasting explanations for his alleged personal experiences are examined, including a new Chestertonian interpretation. Critiques of the use of his canonisation documents as factual evidence are also considered. It is concluded that Aquinas had a sophisticated understanding of these experiences, and although it is fundamentally unknowable whether he actually experienced a hallucination, nevertheless, the approach we take to understanding his experience is of importance. The implications of Aquinas for interdisciplinary dialogue between theology and psychology in the field of hallucinations are then examined. Keywords: Aquinas; natural; revelation; spiritual; supernatural, visual hallucinations.
Re-expanding the phenomenology of hallucinations: lessons from sixteenth-century Spain
Simon R. Jones, Department of Psychology, Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom: Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Volume 13, Issue 2 March 2010 , pages 187 – 208
Abstract: The paradigm within which hallucinations are studied, and the explanatory frameworks employed, may bias the phenomenological analysis of these experiences. After introducing the new term, hallucination, this paper undertook an inter-disciplinary study of the phenomenology of hallucinations identified by the sixteenth-century theologians, St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avila. It was examined whether the phenomenological properties they highlighted are identified and addressed by contemporary psychological research. Many of these properties were indeed found to be acknowledged and studied by contemporary research in psychiatric patients, as well as in healthy individuals during hypnagogia, near-death experiences and at times of stress. However, many experiences, such as “internal voices,” “soundless voices,” and “voices that save,” were found to be neglected by contemporary research, as was the potential for hallucinations to communicate novel/original information. Finally, it was examined how these phenomenological insights may be “front-loaded” into future experimental designs. Keywords: Derrida; hearing voices; phenomenology; schizophrenia; St John of the Cross; St Teresa of Avila
Auditory and visual hallucinations in a sample of severely mentally ill Puerto Rican women: an examination of the cultural context
Sana Louea; Martha Sajatovica , Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Volume 11, Issue 6 September 2008 , pages 597 – 608
Abstract; The content, interpretation, and structure of hallucinations experienced by individuals with severe mental illness are influenced by the culture of the individuals who experience them. We analyzed the content of auditory and visual hallucinations of 53 Puerto Rican women in northeastern Ohio with a diagnosis of a severe mental illness (SMI) who were participating in a study of HIV risk among Hispanic women with SMI. Compared to non-hallucinators, hallucinators had lower global assessment of functioning scores and greater suicidality. Hallucinations reflected three themes: religious themes, command hallucinations, and unidentifiable voices. Hallucinators’ subjective experiences ranged from a sense of security to significant distress. Participants developed a wide range of strategies to deal with threatening hallucinations. Provider response to individuals’ experience appeared to impact the quality of the patient-provider relationship. We recommend the inclusion of religious history in the initial assessment of individuals. This will assist the provider in making an accurate diagnosis, distinguishing between religious beliefs and those that reflect underlying pathology, and in increasing the level of cultural competence of the care provided. Religious and spiritual beliefs that provide a source of hope and strength for the patient can be utilized to expand and enhance the patient’s coping strategies. Keywords: auditory; visual; severely mentally ill; Puerto Rican; women; cultural context
Phenomenology of delusions and hallucinations in schizophrenia by religious convictions
Kausar Suhaila; Shabnam Ghauria, Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Volume 13, Issue 3 April 2010 , pages 245 – 259
Abstract: This study was conducted to assess the impact of religious affiliations on the phenomenology of delusions and hallucinations. Fifty-three Pakistani Muslim patients with schizophrenia were interviewed using the Present State Examination and Religiosity Index. The results indicated that the more religious patients had greater themes of grandiose ability and identity. These differences were more obvious in groups divided on the basis of practice of Islam. Similar results were obtained in the content of hallucinations. More religious patients were more likely to hear voices of paranormal agents and had visions of the same. The results of this study have strong implications for mental health professionals who, without reinforcing threatening and pathological beliefs of patients, can utilise this knowledge to create and maintain a therapeutic alliance with the patients as well as to more effectively manage the disorder. Keywords: schizophrenia; Pakistan; phenomenology; delusions
Working with patients with religious beliefs
Simon Dein, Advances in Psychiatric Treatment (2004) 10: 287-294
Simon Dein (Princess Alexandra Hospital, The Derwent Centre, Hamstel Road, Harlow, Essex CM20 1QX, UK. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior lecturer in anthropology and medicine in the Centre for Behavioural and Social Science in Medicine. He is the editor of the journal Mental Health, Religion and Culture, and runs an MSc course in culture and health. He has published a number of papers on religion and health, and has specifically studied the health of Hasidic Jews in London.
Abstract: Mental health professionals in Western societies are generally less religious than their patients and receive little training in religious issues. Using case studies, the author discusses issues involved in working with patients who hold religious beliefs: problems of engagement; countertransference; religious and spiritual issues not attributable to mental disorder; problems of differential diagnosis; religious delusions; religion and psychotherapy; psychosexual problems; and religiously oriented treatments. The article ends with a discussion of the various ways in which religious themes can be incorporated into mental health work, especially the need to involve religious professionals and develop collaborative patterns of working together with mental health professionals.