Spirituality and Personal Values

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Date Submitted: 07/07/2011 07:32 AM

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Traumatology, Vol. 7, No. 3 (September 2001) Spirituality and Personal Values: Neglected Components of Trauma Treatment A. J. W. Taylor1 Occasional experience with disaster casualties raised questions about the neglect of spiritual factors in the appraisal of their condition. The experience is briefly outlined, reflections presented, and proposals generated for elaborating the WHO definition of health and well-being to take patterns of belief/value systems into account. The outcome, it is argued, should more closely approximate the reality of human reactions seen after catastrophe, indicate more of the support systems available sometimes to assist in the recovery of casualties, and encourage academic psychologists to reconsider the place of values in human behaviour. KEY WORDS: Spirituality, religious attitudes, values, psychology, trauma, trauma treatment, human behaviour. Introduction Following McDonald (2000), spirituality can be defined as the term to cover religious attitudes, experiential dimensions, existential well-being, paranormal beliefs, and religious practices. At first sight it might seem to be entirely misplaced in a journal of behavioural science that by definition draws on physical rather than metaphysical phenomena. But the exclusive adoption of scientific method in the pursuit of objectivity (cf. Israel & Goldstein, 1944) has relegated the study of value systems to a nether region, leaving enthusiasts free to discuss only the operating systems of their computers but not those of human beings2. Earlier when psychologists were more comfortable with their parent discipline of philosophy, William James devoted a major work to religious experience. He invoked the concept of a ‘religious self’ that combined with those of a material self and a social self to be regarded as essential for coping with the human condition (cf. Lundin, 1996, ch.8). Then in 1931 Allport introduced the first of a sequence of scales in which the religious motive ranked with the...