Religion and Coping: A Contribution from Religious Studies

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Freud and Marx pegged religion as a beguiling painkiller. Recent social scientific research has exposed the not-so-simple reality of religious coping, identifying differential usage, means, and outcomes. Appropriately, psychologists, many with clinical training, lead the way. This article is a contribution from religious studies. It describes two thus far neglected modes of religious coping that are prominent in traditions and distinctly representative of religious responses to suffering—magical rituals and religious experiences. Consideration of these forms will address deficiencies and imbalances in the literature apparent from the study of religions. Specifically, the current investigation of religion and coping would benefit from historical perspective, greater attention to unconscious coping processes, heightened use of qualitative data, and fuller recognition of the challenges inherent in the therapeutic use of religion.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Susan Kwilecki is Professor of Religious Studies at Radford University, PO Box 6943 Radford, VA 24142., Email:

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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