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Title: Hearing spirit voices : a critical narrative analysis of spiritualist mediums' accounts
Author: Temple, Jo
ISNI:       0000 0004 2701 2474
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2009
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In spite of considerable change over the last 20 years, hearing voices remains a highly stigmatised experience (James, 2001). The Spiritualist Church represents a specific cultural context in which hearing spirit voices is valued, and the ability to do so, is treated as 'a gift' (Wooffit, 2006). Research with voice hearers who have positive experiences, can offer insights applicable to people whose experiences are much more distressing (Romme & Escher, 1993). Seven Spiritualist mediums who reported hearing spirit voices, either externally or internally, were interviewed. Phenomenological and narrative accounts were elicited, and subjected to a Critical Narrative Analysis (CNA) (Langdridge, 2007); comprising narrative, phenomenological and discursive components. As with studies of voice hearers in the clinical population (Chinn et a/., 2009; Newton et a/., 2007), the participants indicated a great variety of experience, but all reported the belief that the content of what they hear is meaningful, and generally perceived as being helpful to themselves or to others. In order to find ways to manage negative or overwhelming experiences, they had each developed techniques for invoking protection from malevolent spirits, and strategies for negotiating with spirits, allowing them to feel more in control of their experiences. They each reported to value their role as a medium for providing them with a means to offer comfort and help to others. Participants came to make sense of their experiences through various routes but all framed their narrative in such a way as to demonstrate personal growth as a consequence of their experiences of hearing spirits. In a health system that does not tolerate unusual experience easily (Boyle, 1997b), it is useful to have this insight into how this group of Mediums make sense of their unusual experiences in a meaningful way (that also provides them with strategies for managing difficulty), and how they manage to maintain their identities without being deemed pathological.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available