The Psychology of Spiritual Conflict

Volume 4
Winter 1976
The Psychology of Spiritual Conflict

Using James, chapter one, as a basis the author describes how a faith-doubt conflicts and God-world conflict corresponds to the typical approach-avoidance and approach-approach paradigms in psychology. James’ solution to these spiritual conflicts parallel the solutions to conflict as explored by 7 psychologists. In addition, James describes self-deceptions resulting from doublemindedness, which distort spiritual living. These self-deceptions are similar to five defense mechanisms often found consequent to prolonged conflict and the associated anxiety. In James, one’s rationalization distorts prayer life, projection distorts the perception of God, intellectualization prevents the reception of the Word, repression makes one forget what he is like and reaction formation results in a compulsive ritualism for a religion. In conclusion, psychological mechanisms are actively involved in one’s spiritual life and affect one's spiritual condition.

Dr. M.R. Nelson
34 - 41
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