Coping Skills. The Spiritual Healing Centre UK based in the heart of London, Englands services can empower spiritual-religious resources of clients in order so they can be used as an efficient coping strategy. It is known that a relation between better health and religion or spirituality is found in studies covering several physical and mental conditions. Spiritual- religious coping is the use of religious beliefs, attitudes or practices to reduce the emotional distress caused by stressful events of life, such as loss or change, which gives suffering meaning and makes it more bearable. Spiritual distress is a state of suffering due to spiritual causes. Generally it may be associated with unfulfilled spiritual needs. The consequent defensive behaviors patient can develop under spiritual distress may affect clinical treatment and quality of life. Health care services must invest on some actions, in order to minimise conflicts between religious interests of patients and medical treatment. We discussed a list of actions to promote the positive impact of spirituality and religiosity on the health treatment process, which would be followed by health care professionals and services. The elements that are at stake are the institutions (health care and rehabilitation), the people associated with the process (physicians, nurses other professionals) and individual values of patient (religious and spiritual).
Human beings are complex, with physical, mental, and spiritual aspects. Suffering can result from issues pertaining to any of these aspects. Spiritual distress is a state of suffering due to spiritual causes. For example: a mother having difficulty understanding why a loving God would allow her child to die. The spiritual distress refers to the existential anguish experienced by patients when their belief system cannot provide relief.
When patients suffer, they experience a sense of their own vulnerability and finitude, as well as a disruption and fracture of their own person and sense of community. As a result, the experience of suffering can be an opportunity to experience his own spirituality. When well constructed, the belief structure is a source of comfort, welfare, security, meaning, idealism and force. Many patients use their beliefs when coping with its illnesses, and the cure can be influenced by the positivist reinforcement of the patient.
In contrast, a dysfunctional belief system may originate negative reactions that harm the healthcare evolution. If there is a disruption of the belief system, the spiritual distress can surge. It may be expressed by many ways, some of them are below described.
Attempt To Bargain For Recovery: The belief on the possibility to negotiate with deities, spirits, saints, or even God, to achieve a specific outcome results from certain parts of many scriptures where a worthy believer has his(her) plea attended. It is very common to see this behavior among patients, especially in life-threatening diseases. There is no problem when this attitude brings some hope to patient, but some people may exaggerate at a point of impair treatment.
Belief Of Being Deservedly Affected (Low Self Worth): Concepts associated with the idea of a fatalistic karma may put the patient in a “sell out” position, confounding submission to the will of God with apathetic waiver to all major happenings of life. An apparent resigned attitude may hide other negative values that are guiding the decisions of the patient.
Diminished Sense of Meaning and Purpose (Demotivation): It is important to have meaning or purpose in life. This sense of meaning is diminished by an illness. This loss and its associated rediscovery were central aspects of both depression and spirituality. Spirituality may provide such a sense of meaning through its emphasis on liturgy, worship and prayer found in the major religious traditions. The struggle to recover or sustain meaning, that is, the worthwhileness of living, is an expression of the patient’s spirituality. Religion provides a source of hope. Spiritual beliefs may assist people in providing a sense of control in understanding, coping with and interpreting events or experiences. Individuals with a dysfunctional religious beliefs system cannot reduce the stressful reactions to events that they deem to be uncontrollable by reframing or reinterpreting those events, possibly gaining a new meaning and understanding from them.
Guilt, Confusion, Religious Stigmas (Disruption): Some religious groups such as Orthodox Judaism and Catholicism may engender guilt and thus may be detrimental psychologically. A constellation of confounding feelings may paralyze the individual and consume energy in a behavior similar to walk in circles. For example, some possible misconceptions from people with strong religious views: (a) do not take pain medication (or don’t take enough of it) for fear of becoming addicted; (b) pain should be dealt with only in spiritual terms, and taking medication for pain relief is relying on something other than God; (c) pain should not be relieved because it results in spiritual growth; (d) if you still have pain, then your faith is not strong enough.
Sorrow, Betrayal, Angry to God (Disappointment): The idea of a supportive God, who is with you in your suffering, the omnipotent God who supports a person through a crisis can be psychologically beneficial. This concept is sometimes linked to the idea of a reward due to past good actions. When a person’s pray is not attended, a negative feeling of abandonment may surge.
Subtle Perception of Vulnerability and Finitude (Fear): When patients suffer, they experience a sense of their own vulnerability and finitude, as well as a disruption and fracture of their own person and sense of community . The fear of loose something (a physical function, independence or even the life) may interfere with the emotional balance.
The consequent defensive behaviors patient can develop under spiritual distress may affect clinical treatment and quality of life. Below are described some manifestations of such behaviors.
Naïve Reliability on Religion Omnipotence: Religion would assist people in developing stronger coping styles. When religion is used as part of a wider approach to coping this typically provided a beneficial outcome for mental health and reduced mental distress. This is in direct contrast to those coping styles which used deferring (where the individual waits for God to intervene on their behalf ). Excessive reliance on religious rituals or prayer may delay seeking necessary help for their mental health problems, leading to worsening the prognosis of psychiatric disorder. At the most extreme, strict adherence to a ‘religious philosophy’ might precipitate suicide as occurred in rare new religious movements. An example of a patient’s thought inspired by negative coping is given by this phrase: “When the Lord wants to take me, He’ll take me whatever I do. I don’t see the need to bother with a bunch of new pills.”
Sudden Turn to Unusual Religious Practices: Since religious sentiment and sectarianism may rise during times of increased personal stress, unusual religious movements may sprung up during the times of rapid change and uncertainty. Individuals stressed by life or health shifts are more likely to get involved with unusual or innovative or charismatic religious movements. The seek for reconnection with religious practices is positive only if it is not a desperate action to escape from reality.
Dependency on Religious Leaders Conduction: Long term involvement in a religious group may predispose to dependency on religious leaders. Patients have the legitimate right to consult a clergyman before forming an opinion about health issues. But it is dangerous to delegate decisions to a third part that represents only the religious view.
Obsessive Ritualistic Behavior: Formal religious organization and particularly religious rituals and religiously based moral or ethical reasoning can be considered as examples of the human cognitive capacity to order experience and to seek meaning. This tendency is also a healthy human capacity to be promoted. As with the attachment dimension, however, there are clinical excesses in the ordering of and attributing meaning or significance to experience. Religions which emphasise rituals, such as Islam and Judaism, may predispose to obsessional behavior. Some pathologic expressions of attachment behavior that are desperate in nature, require therapeutic action that promotes modulation and containment. Therapeutic action encouraging containment of the expression of such attachment needs is important to avoid chaos in all aspects of such individuals’ lives, including the religious dimensions of their lives. Faith-based efforts to order experience can hypertrophy to the degree that rituals lose their spiritual base.
Sectarianism, Isolation, Fanaticism: Many devastating effects can be elicited by the over dominance of fanatic belief and consequent up rootedness from the instinctive foundation. Excessive devotion to religious practices might result in family break-up if the sole preoccupation of one spouse is towards religious practice. Differences in the levels of religiosity between spouses may result in marital disharmony. Religion can promote rigid thinking, overdependence on laws and rules, an emphasis on guilt and sin, and disregard for personal individuality and autonomy.
Refuse to Certain Kinds of Treatment: The beliefs system of the patient can affect clinical decisions when particular interpretation interfere with healthcare. Some religious assumptions can originate ideas that conflict with treatment, induce spiritual stigmas that create tension, and interfere with the adhesion to the diagnosis and to the treatment. Religious views may influence a person’s acceptance of various management approaches and her or his treatment goals. Koenig lists four misconceptions about pain management that might be held by patients with strong religious views: 1) reluctance or refusal to take pain medication (or to take sufficient medication) because of addiction fears; 2) belief that pain should be dealt with only in spiritual terms, and taking medication for pain relief would be relying on something other than God; 3) belief that pain should not be relieved because pain may result in spiritual growth; 4) persistent pain may be regarded as a sign that the patient’s faith is not strong enough.
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