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Experience of Contingency and Congruent Interpretation of Life Events in Clinical Psychiatric Settings: A Qualitative Pilot Study

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Abstract This is a qualitative pilot study of congruence in narrative reconstruction of interpretations of life events by patients in a clinical psychiatric setting. It is based on the assumption that a coherent interpretive structure means that the interpretation of contingent life events by a person must be congruent with the conflict between these everyday events and the person’s embedded ultimate life goal. The pilot study confirms the assumption, provided the interpretation is based on ultimate life goals in order to integrate experience, severe mental disorder in these patients, with the person’s life story. If there is no clear embedded ultimate life goal, the person does not have a congruent angle on the contingent life event to assign it a position in her life story. As a result self-realisation, with or without a context of religious significance, becomes problematic. Whether patients with a severe mental disorder differ from persons without a disorder remains an open question and can not be answered by this study.

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37. FN1 1Narrative Reconstruction of Experience of Contingency is a programme to investigate people’s contingent experiences in everyday life. This entails research into negative and positive experiences alike. So far a number of pilot studies (in master theses of students in theology and religious studies) have been conducted inter alia among mentally handicapped people, problem youths, people over the age of 30, highly qualified young people in their twenties in Amsterdam, Zen meditation trainees, and volunteers in hospices; three doctoral theses explore this researchtopic inter alia among cancer patients, primary school teachers, and asylim seekers.
38. FN2 2In psychology source concerns are described as ultimate concerns. The theologian Tillich (1958, 3) defines the term ‘ultimate concern’ as “the God of justice, who, because he represents justice for everybody, and every nation, is called the universal God, the God of the universe”. According to Tillich faith is “the state of being ultimately concerned: the dynamics of faith are the dynamics of man’s ultimate concern” (Tillich 1958, 1). The psychologist Emmons (1999, 6) adopted the term in the plural (‘ultimate concerns’), defining it as “multiple personal goals that a person might possess in striving toward the sacred”.
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/content/journals/10.1163/15709256-12341242
2012-01-01
2015-08-02

Affiliations: 1: m.scherer-rath@ftr.ru.nl

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