1st Edition

Spiritual, Religious, and Faith-Based Practices in Chronicity An Exploration of Mental Wellness in Global Context

Edited By Andrew R. Hatala, Kerstin Roger Copyright 2022
    300 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    284 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores how people draw upon spiritual, religious, or faith-based practices to support their mental wellness amidst forms of chronicity. From diverse global contexts and spiritual perspectives, this volume critically examines several chronic conditions, such as psychosis, diabetes, depression, oppressive forces of colonization and social marginalization, attacks of spirit possession, or other forms of persistent mental duress.

    As an inter- and transdisciplinary collection, the chapters include innovative ethnographic observations and over 300 in-depth interviews with care providers and individuals living in chronicity, analyzed primarily from the phenomenological and hermeneutic meaning-making traditions. Overall, this book depicts a modern global era in which spiritualty and religion maintain an important role in many peoples’ lives, underscoring a need for increased awareness, intersectoral collaboration, and practical training for varied care providers.

    This book will be of interest to scholars of religion and health, the sociology and psychology of religion, medical and psychological anthropology, religious studies, and global health studies, as well as applied health and mental health professionals in psychology, social work, physical and occupational therapy, cultural psychiatry, public health, and medicine.

    1. Chronicity, mental wellness, and spirituality: An introduction

    Kerstin Roger and Andrew R. Hatala

    2. Religiosity and spirituality in mental health contexts: Perceptions of psychologists and chaplains

    Marta Helena de Freitas, Evelyn Figueira Lima Ruas and Emmanuel Ifeka Nwora

    3. Responding with Anishinaabek values: Understanding the importance of living as a spiritual being for mental wellness

    Leslie McGregor and Gerald Patrick McKinley

    4. Tradition and modernity in Somali experiences of spirit possession: An ethnographic exploration

    Aaron Moratz

    5. Politics and aesthetics of care: Chronic affliction and spiritual healing in Brazilian Kardecism

    Helmar Kurz

    6. Nourishing exchanges: Care, love, and chronicity in Lourdes

    Sarah Goldingay, Paul Dieppe, Sara Warber and Emmylou Rahtz

    7. Miyo-wîcêhetowin in the city: Indigenous youth spirituality, good ancestors, and mental wellness through healing journeys on the land

    Darrien Morton, Kelley Bird-Naytowhow and Andrew Hatala

    8. Psychosis, spiritual crisis, and narrative transformation: An ethnography of spiritual peer-support networks in the United Kingdom

    Raphaëlle Remy-Fischler

    9. Prayer camps, healing, and the management of chronic mental illness in Ghana: A qualitative phenomenological inquiry

    Francis Benyah

    10. "God takes care of it": Spiritual practices and mental wellness of people living with type 2 diabetes in Belize

    Lindsay Allen, Lucia Ellis and Andrew Hatala

    11. Cultures of wellness and recovery: Exploring religion and chronicity in relation to severe mental illness

    G. Eric Jarvis, Rob Whitley and Marie Nathalie LeBlanc

    12. Global mental wellness and spiritual geographies of care: Concluding remarks

    Andrew R. Hatala and Kerstin Roger


    Andrew R. Hatala, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba. As a practicing member of the global Bahá’i religious community, and a medical and psychological anthropologist with interest in cultural psychiatry, spirituality, and health psychology, his published works and research focus on qualitative methodologies, culture and spirituality, mental health, Indigenous healing and epistemology, Indigenous nosology of mental illness and disorder, and resilience and wellness among Indigenous youth populations.

    Kerstin Roger, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba. Her current research focusses on chronic illness, aging, caregiving, and the family. Dr Roger has been a Principal Investigator on multi-site, nationally funded research (e.g., PHAC, SSHRC, Movember, federal government), as well as conducting provincial and regionally funded research. She has worked on international collaborations, local not-for-profit community initiatives, and continues to co-author and engage graduate students in her research.

    "This exciting collection adds an essential contemporary and fresh look at the global role of spirituality, religion and faith-based practices in the context of chronicity. A far reaching and remarkably diverse discussion from nine countries around the world, the authors provide readers with unique qualitative and ethnographic, evidence-based research that highlights individual experiences of mental wellness in real life contexts. The editors’ co-authored first and last chapters contribute a significant frame for the key issues of the book, including the role of intersectoral partnerships, and lead us to ask important questions about next steps. Worth reading – this is an essential resource for theoreticians, researchers and practitioners alike."

    Harold G. Koenig, Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Associate Professor of Medicine, Duke University USA

    Chronic illness poses profound challenges to our sense of wellness. Well-being depends not simply on the hedonic qualities of comfort and enjoyment but equally on meaning—and meaning resides in relationships with others and with larger systems of values. In the contemporary world, spirituality and religion in their myriad forms are essential sources of meaning and value that bring hope and purpose to individuals struggling with affliction. The rich and varied ethnographic studies in this volume provide powerful examples of the transformative power of spiritual and religious practices, faith, belonging, and encounters with the sacred as ways to find a life of meaning amid the suffering, loss and disappointments of persistent illness. The contributors show how spirituality and religion can lighten the burden of affliction, promote healing and recovery, and deepen one’s humanity, sense of purpose, and connection with others. The studies also reveal ongoing tensions with biomedicine, which retains an ambivalent view of spirituality and religion. As the editors argue, taken together, the essays point toward a global geography of spiritual practices that can provide important conceptual and practical resources for mental health care in diverse societies. Health practitioners and anyone concerned to understand this crucial dimension of human experience and support those living with chronic illness will find much sustenance and inspiration in these thoughtful essays.

    Laurence J. Kirmayer, James McGill Professor & Director, Division of Social & Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University