A thematic analysis of delusion with religious content in schizophrenia: open, closed, and mixed dynamics

Rieben I., Mohr S., Borras L., Gillièron C., Brandt P.-Y., Perroud N., Huguelet P., The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 201 (8), 2013, pp. 665-673. 

The aim of the present study was to elicit how patients with delusions with religious contents conceptualized or experienced their spirituality and religiousness. Sixty-two patients with present or past religious delusions went through semistructured interviews, which were analyzed using the three coding steps described in the grounded theory. Three major themes were found in religious delusions: « spiritual identity, » « meaning of illness, » and « spiritual figures. » One higher-order concept was found: « structure of beliefs. » We identified dynamics that put these personal beliefs into a constant reconstruction through interaction with the world and others (i.e., open dynamics) and conversely structural dynamics that created a complete rupture with the surrounding world and others (i.e., closed structural dynamics); those dynamics may coexist. These analyses may help to identify psychological functions of delusions with religious content and, therefore, to better conceptualize interventions when dealing with it in psychotherapy.


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