Religion and Coping in Mental Health Care

By Joseph Pieper; Marinus Van Uden | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

We will start this introduction by substantiating this volume's basic assumption: the necessity of attention to faith and worldview in mental health care. We will do this by making connections with the results of research in the area of 'religious coping', carried out in the United States. After this, we will briefly indicate the findings of our own research in this area in the Netherlands. Our research was focused, on the one hand, on the position that, according to clients, faith and worldview have in their coping with their mental health problems; on the other hand, on the position that therapists assign to this dimension in the treatment process. In the subsequent chapters of this volume, these data will be further elaborated. We will continue this introduction with some conclusions about the research results' significance for mental health care, and we will finish with a preview of the chapters of this volume.


1. Religious coping

In the psychology of religion, the study of the relationship between religion and mental health has always been a main theme. Already at the discipline's inception at the end of the nineteenth century, James (1994/1902) explored the boundaries between, on the one hand, profound religious and mystical experiences and, on the other hand, psychopathology, whilst Leuba (1896) and Starbuck (1899) were concerned with the significance of conversion experiences for the converts' mental health. In Chapter 1 of this volume we will consider at length the complex relationship that exists between the phenomena of religion and mental health. In the last few decades, this relationship has been studied in particular within the 'religious coping' paradigm, that has been formulated most comprehensively by the American psychologist of religion Kenneth Pargament (1997; see also Harrison 2001). In this line of research, a bridge is being built from theory to

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