Dein & Cook “God put a thought into my mind: the charismatic Christian experience of receiving communications from God”

Dein, Simon  & Christopher C.H. Cook. 2015. “God put a thought into my mind: the charismatic Christian experience of receiving communications from God.” Mental Health, Religion & Culture, DOI: 10.1080/13674676.2014.1002761

Abstract: The agentive aspects of communicative religious experiences remain somewhat neglected in the social sciences literature. There is a need for phenomenological descriptions of these experiences and the ways in which they differ from culturally defined psychopathological states. In this semi-structured interview study, eight congregants attending an evangelical church in London were asked to describe their experiences of God communicating with them. Communications from God were related to current events rather than to the prediction of future events. These communications were received as thoughts and do not generally reveal metaphysical insights, but rather they relate to the mundane world. They provided direction, consolation and empowerment in the lives of those receiving them. Individuals recounted that on occasion God sometimes speaks audibly, or accompanied by supernatural phenomena, but in the vast majority of cases, the way God speaks is through thoughts or impressions. In all instances, agency is maintained, individuals can choose to obey the thoughts/voices or not. The findings are discussed in relation to externalisation of agency and the phenomenon of thought insertion in schizophrenia.

Luhrmann, “Making God real and making God good: Some mechanisms through which prayer may contribute to healing”

Luhrmann, Tanya. 2013. Making God real and making God good: Some mechanisms through which prayer may contribute to healing. Transcultural Psychiatry published online 21 June (Early View). DOI: 10.1177/1363461513487670.

Abstract: Many social scientists attribute the health-giving properties of religious practice to social support. This paper argues that another mechanism may be a positive relationship with the supernatural, a proposal that builds upon anthropological accounts of symbolic healing. Such a mechanism depends upon the learned cultivation of the imagination and the capacity to make what is imagined more real and more good. This paper offers a theory of the way that prayer enables this process and provides some evidence, drawn from experimental and ethnographic work, for the claim that a relationship with a loving God, cultivated through the imagination in prayer, may contribute to good health and may contribute to healing in trauma and psychosis.