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Free Church Pastors in Germany – Perceptions of Spirit Possession and Mental Illness

Michael Grossklaus

This book focuses on Free Church pastors in Germany and their perceptions of spirit possession and mental illness. To explore Free Church pastors’ understanding of spirit possession and mental illness is critical in light of the overlap of symptoms. Misdiagnosis may result in a client receiving treatment that may not be appropriate. Interviews with Free Church pastors were conducted. The results were analysed and four themes were identified. Based on these interviews conclusions could be drawn which ultimately made it clear that the German free church pastors’ theological training needs to be supplemented in the area of psychology and that the pastors are unable to cope in the area of «spirit possession or mental illness».

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3 Psychological Theories of Spirit Possession


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3  Psychological Theories of Spirit Possession

Chapter 3 describes the historic development of these psychological theories that are attributed for the phenomenon spirit possession. There exists a variation of attempts to explain this phenomenon out of the history from Freud and Jung to the current transpersonal psychology, conventional medical as well as recent attempts to explain as Weak Quantum Theory, the Model of Pragmatic Information and the parapsychological perspective.

Since the 19th century researchers have been trying to experimentally prove the existence of paranormal phenomena and as well as divination, bewitchment, psychic reading, there is spirit possession. Theories and models have been developed in order to draw our understanding as close as possible to these phenomena. What one has to bear in mind is that the scientific approach to investigations of human behaviour has drawn us closer towards evidence that is observable and tangible. In fact, Freud’s theories created tension within the academic fraternity, for one cannot prove the unconscious in an empirical manner, and created a sense of dissonance between what can and cannot be investigated. Furthermore, the implication regarding the study of spirit possession is that it has come to be viewed in relation to that which is acceptable within academic traditions, meaning observability. In their book “Outside the Gates of Science”, Borderick (2007), Radin (2006) and Jahn and Dunne (2006) provide a detailed overview about the theoretical approaches on this subject, going beyond the confines that scientific endeavour, as...

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