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Dissociation in Religion and Spirituality: God Images and Religious Rituals in the Context of Dissociative Experiences among a Sample of German Adults

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AbstractFollowing Schumaker’s (1995) theory that dissociation is induced by religious rituals, this study assesses the relation between religious ritual and depersonalization, including the influence of the God image on this relation. The Scale for Assessment of Depersonalization Experiences (Wolfradt, 2003), the Religious Ritual Scale (Maranell, 1974) and the God Image Inventory (Lawrence, 1997) were administered to 156 German adults from different religious groups (traditional churches, New Religious Movements [NRMs], Bahá’i). The results show an increased experience of depersonalization when rituals are valued but not performed frequently. Members of NRMs and the Bahá’i religion perform rituals more often, but do not cherish them more and also do not experience depersonalization more often. A non-accepting God image was connected with depersonalization. Finally, a positive God image can be regarded as a protective factor which weakens the relation between importance of ritual and experience of depersonalization.


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