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Shaman, Healing, Paranormal

Session Chair: N.N. | Thursday, August 27, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

Vivianne Crowley, Belinda Winder

Interpreting the unusual: How Pagans and Pentecostal Christians interpret and integrate paranormal experiences

Belief in and experience of unusual, paranormal phenomena is a dimension of the personality construct of schizotypy, which ranges from normal dissociative, imaginative states to psychosis. Such experiences can also be interpreted as highly valued religious experiences. This paper examines whether religious beliefs that welcome and contextualise unusual experiences enhance individuals’ coping strategies by creating frameworks for integrating and valuing them. Using a purposive, theory-guided approach to sampling, 379 participants from Pagan and Pentecostal Christian groups completed online measures relevant to schizotypy, including Mason, Linney and Claridge (2005). Seventy per cent of participants had had unusual experiences, 76 per cent produced creative work, and a third had experienced some form of mental illness. Structural equation modelling demonstrated a complex relationship between schizotypy, religious belief, creativity, and unusual experiences. The implications are discussed of whether participation in religious groups that place a positive value on unusual experiences promotes psychological wellbeing.

James Lewis

New Religions, the Cultic Milieu and Paranormal Beliefs

Using data generated from questionnaires containing select items from the Baylor Religion Survey, the current study proposes to examine the paranormal interests and beliefs of participants in two specific alternative spiritual movements, contemporary Paganism and the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA). The analysis will be framed by a discussion of the larger alternative spiritual milieu in which these movements are rooted, and how belief in the paranormal is correlated more with this milieu than with involvement in these NRMs.

Nanne Elisabeth Jensen

Possession and Healing in Contemporary Alternative Medicine in Germany

The aim of this project is to look into the increasing spread and variation of exorcist therapy concepts within complementary medicine in Germany. The field-based research focuses on the way the actors, as healers or non-medical practitioners, see themselves. Concepts of healing activities and the development of training contents for disciples are also explored. I look comparatively at these healers´ exclusive or hybrid exorcist treatment concepts and the associated conceptualization. In view of my research aims, I conduct open guideline interviews with various therapists which will be developed further during the course of my research. This guideline questionnaire contains questions about extrasensory abilities and education of the actors, methods such as rituals, prayers and instruments. I ask about theories, underlying religious traditions and their possible individual transformation as well as delimitation from other exorcist healing concepts. If possible, I complement the results with participant observation.


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