1. Spirituality and Wellbeing: Is there a Necessary Link?

Spirituality and Wellbeing - Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Religious Experience and Health - Bettina E. Schmidt

Everton de Oliveira Maraldi [+-]
Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, Brazil
Everton de Oliveira Maraldi is a professor at the Post-Graduate Program on Religious Studies of the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, Brazil. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Guarulhos University, as well as master’s and doctor’s degrees in Social Psychology from the Institute of Psychology of the University of São Paulo, Brazil, where he also carried out postdoc research. Everton was a postdoctoral research fellow at Coventry University (Brain, Belief, and Behaviour Lab) and University of Oxford (SCIO – Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford), UK. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Parapsychological Association (USA) and is also a research member of the Social Psychology of Religion Laboratory and the Inter Psi – Laboratory of Anomalistic Psychology and Psychosocial Processes, both based at the Institute of Psychology of the University of São Paulo, Brazil.

Description

Spirituality has been defined in many ways, including meaning in life, inner peace and harmony, feelings of hopefulness, or having transcendent experiences. Such definitions are so broad that it is sometimes difficult to specify what exactly spirituality is. Furthermore, definitions based on wellbeing concepts tend to tautological results, especially when measures of spirituality and mental health are correlated since spirituality is conceived as inherently beneficial. In this chapter, I propose to define spirituality mainly in terms of individual religiousness and a secularized search for transcendence, independently of wellbeing and mental health. I present data from a Brazilian survey indicating that people who define themselves as “spiritual, but not religious” are similar to religious participants in their perspectives on spirituality, despite presenting low church/ritual attendance when compared to religious believers. Self-proclaimed atheists consider themselves significantly more as non-spiritual and understand life as meaningless. However, they usually report fewer psychopathological symptoms. These findings suggest that spirituality is not necessarily a matter of wellbeing, and its relationship with mental health may be more complex than measured by some spirituality scales. Spirituality may sometimes involve therapeutic benefits, but challenges and difficulties also constitute an essential part of the spiritual growth process. Spiritual growth would be better defined in terms of the Jungian concept of individuation.

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Citation

de Oliveira Maraldi, Everton. 1. Spirituality and Wellbeing: Is there a Necessary Link?. Spirituality and Wellbeing - Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Religious Experience and Health. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Feb 2020. ISBN 9781781797655. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=35878. Date accessed: 19 Sep 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.35878. Feb 2020

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