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Religious experience among young, autistic adults
Dalarna University, School of Culture and Society, Religious Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7042-0877
2022 (English)In: Autism and Religious Experience: Theory and Practice / [ed] Saša Horvat & Tanja Horvat, Zagreb: Grafomark , 2022, p. 101-121Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This chapter takes its departure in interviews with 17 young adults (16-21 years old), who are all diagnosed with autism (type 1) and who describe themselves as religious and/or spiritual. According to the naturalness hypothesis of religion, supernatural beliefs are underpinned by an intuitive propensity for mentalization. But what about autistic individuals who find mentalization difficult? The aim was to explore how these individuals – who all struggle to grasp social communication in their everyday lives – come to form intimate relationships with invisible, supernatural beings. The findings suggest that the absence of physical bodies facilitates mentalization, as autistic individuals often are challenged in decoding non-verbal, embodied language. Instead, the participants describe interpretation of emotions as key to understanding what their supernatural partners have in mind. Another finding concerns the fact that most of the participants grew up in families with secular worldviews, and their path towards developing supernatural interpretations seems to be mediated through anomalous experiences, rather than social learning or philosophical reasoning. While the study does not reveal to what extent autistic individuals generally are attracted to invisible agency and magical narratives, it illustrates that supernatural dimensions are central for the participants in this study, and that such beliefs support them in making sense of unusual experiences and to cope with difficulties in their everyday lives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Zagreb: Grafomark , 2022. p. 101-121
Keywords [en]
religion, spirituality, autism, supernatural experience, collaborative research
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Intercultural Studies, Religion, Spirituality, and World View
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-42249ISBN: 978-953-49481-2-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-42249DiVA, id: diva2:1689661
Available from: 2022-08-23 Created: 2022-08-23 Last updated: 2022-08-30Bibliographically approved

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Visuri, Ingela

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • chicago-author-date
  • chicago-note-bibliography
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf