Demon? Disorder? Or none of the above? A survey of the attitudes and experiences of evangelical Christians with mental distress

Lloyd, Christopher E. M. and Waller, Robert M. (2020) Demon? Disorder? Or none of the above? A survey of the attitudes and experiences of evangelical Christians with mental distress. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 23 (8). pp. 679-690. ISSN 1469-9737

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Abstract / Description

Evangelical Christians consistently endorse spiritual aetiologies for mental distress, which include the belief that mental distress can be treated solely through spiritual intervention (prayer, fasting and deliverance). The present survey examined the beliefs and experiences of 446 self-identified evangelical Christians considering growing public awareness of mental distress. The paper focuses on the extent to which church teaching represents mental distress as caused by “spiritual” factors, and how this affects beliefs about “secular” treatments and resulting interactions within communities of faith. Thirty-one percent of respondents reported experiencing teaching which exclusively spiritualised their mental distress. However, 94% endorsed secular interventions (psychological therapy) as effective. Additionally, 73% of respondents endorsed non-spiritual causal attributions (biological/neurological or traumatic/lived experiences) for mental distress. Overall, 56% indicated positive engagement within their faith communities. That respondents endorsed positive interactions within their churches, despite the presence of spiritualised teaching, highlights the limitations of anti-spiritualisation narratives. We argue for an approach to mental distress that is culturally sensitive and psychologically framed, and yet responds to individual and collective meaning-making regarding the interface between spiritual and psychological dimensions.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ** From Crossref via Jisc Publications Router
Uncontrolled Keywords: mental distress, Christianity, evangelical, aetiology, beliefs
Subjects: 200 Religion > 280 Christian denominations & sects
300 Social sciences > 360 Social problems & services; associations
Department: School of Social Sciences and Professions
School of Social Sciences (to June 2021)
SWORD Depositor: Pub Router
Depositing User: Pub Router
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2020 16:11
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2022 09:14

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