OBJECTIVE: To further our understanding of religious possession experiences by focusing on personality, cognitive, and quality of life outcomes.
METHODS: Data collection was undertaken at Umbanda sessions in Brazilian cities. Participants were mediums who regularly experienced possession (n=334) or those who attended the same rituals but had never been possessed (n=54).
RESULTS: We found that mediums were not significantly different across variables from the control group, except for anxiety, which was lower among mediums. Correlational and regression analysis showed that the level of meaningfulness attributed to possession and fusion with the spiritual entity were strongly positively correlated with most quality-of-life dimensions, and negatively with anxiety; in addition, level of meaningfulness predicted lower anxiety, and psychological quality of life was predicted by level of fusion and meaningfulness. Contrary to expectations, there were no detrimental effects of a lower level of bodily control over the possession experience.
CONCLUSION: Together, these results suggest that individuals regularly experiencing possession within a religious context are psychologically similar to those who attend the same rituals without experiencing possession, and that the way they appraise their experiences as meaningful, as well as the level of spiritual fusion, are predictors of well-being.
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- Quality of life
- dissociative identity disorder