Inside-out Spirituality

I am supervising a Psychology thesis on how people cope with chronic skin conditions and how a person's spirituality might be important to them. It is well know that Religious Behaviour such as church going is important and helpful for people's mental health in chronic illnesses, but is this just because you have access to a supportive community?

What about the deeper aspects of spirituality? Does belief in God or 'something out there' help? And is this seperatable from social behaviour. One researcher differentiates Extrinsic and Intrinsic Spirituality:

The extrinsically motivated person uses his religion,whereas the intrinsically motivated lives his religion? (Allport & Ross, 1967, p. 434).

It will be interesting to follow this research, especially as most of this sort of thing has been done in bible belt USA where most people seem to go to church. This study will be done in dirty inner-city Leeds. I have included some of the questionnaire in the longer version of this post - click below.

Do you think Extrinsic and Intrinsic is a useful distinction? What are alternatives? Do you think it is the extrinsic or intrinsic aspects of faith that most help us deal with life's problems in general and chronic illness in particular?

Rob Waller, 24/08/2008