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Resilience in Religion and Spirituality: Endurance and the Formation of Powerlessness, Fear and Anxiety

The research project is a cooperation among theology, philosophy, theological ethics / moral psychology, psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy, palliative medicine, and spiritual care. It investigates resilience in relationship to what is described in discussions concerning health and health care as the “religious and spiritual dimension” of human life. The gain of our project consists in the innovative attempt to bring the rich potential of pertinent disciplines located in the humanities (such as theology, anthropology, phenomenology) but that also intersect with clinical psychology, psychotherapy, and palliative medicine to bear on new approaches in hospice work and spiritual care. In terms of method, the project works with a hermeneutic combination of research by connecting theoretical foundations with empirical studies, with both of these being integrated into and aiming at an applied research framework. The common goals are as follows: A. Comparative analysis of disciplinarily specific discursive practices and so-called “Resilience Narratives”, i.e., of the concept, meaning, theoretical framings, narrative construction, metaphors and manifestations of resilience in religion and spirituality. The goal is the development of a responsible and response-able definition of resilience. B. Deepened analysis of the discipline-specific textual bases (primary texts, interviews, diagnostic tools, etc.) focused on aspects of religion and spirituality that concentrate on crisis, ambiguity and negativity: Psalms of Lament in the Judeo-Christian tradition (TP 1); Narratives concerning the cross and resurrection in the Christian tradition (Luther, Taizé, Tillich) (TP 2); Empathy and interpersonal responsivity (TP 3); Mindfulness from the perspective of anthropology (TP 4); Conceiving definitions for and modelling the relationships between resilience, religion, spirituality (TP 5); Concepts of resilience and coherence in palliative medicine (TP 6); empirical relationships between resilience/spirituality in questionnaires and interviews (TP 7); Understandings of roles and relationships in the interaction in professional and volunteer care (TP 8). The test groups in the empirical surveys noted in TP 5-8 include: Experts, patients, relatives, mourners, and caretakers. The goal is to test and critically check previously developed definitions of resilience, factors relevant in determining resilience, and the development of an interdisciplinary model of resilience. C. Development (interpretation and integration) of the research results from TP 1-8 by means of the concept of grounded theory and the hermeneutics of resilience as well as their use and application in the development of interventions in the fields of medicine and pastoral care. We are working together on a general theory of resilience that is attentive to religion and spirituality and that can support the cultivation of resilience in practice in medicine, therapy, pastoral care and spiritual care.  

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