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CWRU psychologist leads $1.4 million project to study spiritual struggles and stress links
Date:11/12/2013

Researchers hope to discover why some people struggle with their spirituality or religious beliefs and practices in the face of life's challenges while others don't.

The answers, they say, may offer clues that help prevent stress-related health problems, because such strong internal conflicts can cause long-term physical and emotional consequences.

Psychologists from Case Western Reserve and Bowling Green State universities were awarded a three-year, $1.4 million grant from The John Templeton Foundation to study the factors behind religious and spiritual struggles.

Case Western Reserve psychology professor Julie Exline, who has long studied spiritual struggles, such as anger with God, will lead the investigation in collaboration with Bowling Green psychology professor Kenneth Pargament, who has also done extensive research and writing on spiritual and religious issues. Other investigators from the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston and Biola University in Southern California will be a part of the project.

Spiritual struggles can surface in many ways. Some become angry with God or feel punished by God. Others may doubt their religious beliefs, feel intense guilt about moral failings or worry about whether their life has any ultimate purpose. Many disagree with others about religious issues and may feel offended by the actions of some religious people.

The researchers hope to learn what factors may predict who will struggle with their spirituality and why. They also want to understand whether spiritual struggles may have positive effects, such as personal growth or increased compassion for others.

Pargament noted that, because so little is known in this area, health care professionals often find themselves at a loss when met with people facing spiritual struggles.

"Spiritual struggles can be a source of such deep pain," he said. "We hope that the knowledge gained from this resear
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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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