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Experiences and explanations of mental ill health in a group of devout Christians from the ethnic majority population in secular Sweden: a qualitative study
Umea Univ, Dept Publ Hlth & Clin Med, Div Family Med, Umea, Sweden..
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology, The Social Sciences of Religion, Psychology of Religions. Umea Univ, Dept Publ Hlth & Clin Med, Div Family Med, Umea, Sweden. Innlandet Hosp Trust, Div Mental Hlth, Hamar, Norway..
Umea Univ, Dept Clin Sci, Umea, Sweden..
Umea Univ, Dept Publ Hlth & Clin Med, Div Family Med, Umea, Sweden..
2016 (English)In: BMJ Open, ISSN 2044-6055, E-ISSN 2044-6055, Vol. 6, no 10, e011647Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective: To explore existential meaning-making in an ethnic-majority subgroup with mental ill health and to increase knowledge about the importance of gaining access to such information in mental healthcare. Design: Qualitative study using in-depth interviews and systematic text condensation analysis. Participants: 17 devote Christians with an ethnicSwedish background, 12 women and 5 men, 30-73 years old, from different congregations across Sweden, having sought medical care for mental ill health of any kind. Setting: The secular Swedish society. Results: A living, although asymmetric, relationship with God often was seen as the most important relationship, giving hope and support when ill, but creating feelings of abandonment and fear if perceived as threatened. Symptoms were interpreted through an existential framework influenced by their view of God. A perceived judging God increased feelings of guilt, sinfulness and shame. A perceived merciful God soothed symptoms and promoted recovery. Existential consequences, such as being unable to pray or participate in congregational rituals, caused feelings of ` spiritual homelessness'. Participants gave biopsychosocial explanations of their mental ill health, consonant with and sometimes painfully conflicting with existential explanations, such as being attacked by demons. Three different patterns of interaction among biopsychosocial and existential dimensions in their explanatory systems of illness causation were identified: (a) comprehensive thinking and consensus; (b) division and parallel functions and (c) division and competitive functions. Conclusions: Prevailing medical models for understanding mental ill health do not include the individual's existential experiences, which are important for identifying risk and protective factors as well as possible resources for recovery. The various expressions of existential meaning-making identified in this devout religious subgroup illustrate that existential information cannot be generalised, even within a small, seemingly homogenous group. The three identified patterns of interactions formed a typology that may be of use in clinical settings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 6, no 10, e011647
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Religious Studies Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-315100DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011647ISI: 000391303200091PubMedID: 27797991OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-315100DiVA: diva2:1072833
Available from: 2017-02-08 Created: 2017-02-08 Last updated: 2017-11-29Bibliographically approved

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