Psychological Analysis of the Phenomenon of Religious Experience Distortion



The article addresses the problem of distortions of the spiritual experience, with which psychotherapist encounters while working with religious clients. In the focus are the phenomena of substitution, which are understood as distortions of the spiritual experience. The person himself sees them as normal, spiritually right, healthy and as being signs of spiritual development etc. Along the line of conceptualizing the practice of working with believers the article introduces the analysis of such psychological dis- turbances as: being unable to recognize own feelings, deficiency of valuing own self. The ways in which such phenomena occur are discussed, especially their peculiarities among religious people. Negative consequences of such psychological problems for spiritual life of Christians are analyzed. Main reasons behind these phenomena and some recommendations in addressing them during psychotherapy are pointed out. The associations between the problems of self-esteem and self-value are given.

General Information

Keywords: distortions of the spiritual experience, phenomena of substitution, psychotherapy of believers, difficulty of recognizing own feelings, self-esteem, self-value

Journal rubric: Psychology of Faith, Christian Psychology and Psychotherapy

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Filonik M.S. Psychological Analysis of the Phenomenon of Religious Experience Distortion. Konsul'tativnaya psikhologiya i psikhoterapiya = Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy, 2015. Vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 107–122. DOI: 10.17759/cpp.2015230506. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Maria S. Filonik, Research Fellow, Federal Institute for Educational Development, Psychotherapist and Teacher of the Association of Understanding Psychotherapy, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:



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