Destructive thinking within religion : a psycho-pastoral approach

Roux, Lee-Anne (2013-03)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: As humans we are thinking beings. This thesis introduces the topic of “destructive thinking.” This is described rather broadly as any type of thinking that is considered counterproductive, harmful, and maladaptive or has a damaging and negative effect on the individual’s identity, relationships, social context and worldview. Of particular interest to this study are cognitive distortions; thinking errors; irrational beliefs; and inappropriate God-images. It was noted that most of our everyday thinking takes place unconsciously and that cognitive distortions or thinking errors are common occurrences. These are of particular interest to this study since destructive thoughts are viewed as facilitating emotional distress, psychopathology, inappropriate God-images and faith pathology. Sometimes we fall into a negative rut or just get stuck in our ways of thinking, feeling and acting. The idea of changing cognitions to change feelings is a central feature of this thesis. The primary goal is to facilitate the restructuring of destructive thoughts. The main focus of this thesis is on developing a theological understanding and perspective of ‘destructive thinking’ in the context of pastoral care. I therefore explore the type of thoughts that the pastoral caregiver should look for that could pose as ‘risk factors’ inhibiting spiritual growth and spiritual well-being. I identify and encourage the development of thoughts that are more likely to promote spiritual healing, spiritual growth and a mature faith. To accomplish this task, I begin with an exploration of ‘destructive thinking’ in the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy literature (CT & REBT respectively) (Chapter 2). This is followed by an exploration of ‘destructive thinking’ within the interplay between Religion and Christian Spirituality (Chapter 3). I then propose a pastoral model of spiritual healing and wholeness that could assist pastoral caregivers to understand and address “destructive thinking” in a constructive and responsible way (Chapter 4). This study concluded that thoughts are at the centre of our functioning as thinking beings. If our thinking is ‘destructive’, the consequence on our spiritual and psychological lives may be devastating. Our thoughts have the ability to destroy and transform. In reviewing the potential impact of destructive thoughts on the individual’s spirituality and spiritual well-being, a number of destructive types of religious thinking are identified, such as inappropriate God-images. In assessing the relationship between one’s God-image and psychological and spiritual well-being, a link between one’s thoughts (cognitions), spiritual and psychological well-being is suggested. As an outcome of this research, I propose a holistic approach to destructive thinking that takes into account one’s faith, spiritual maturity, beliefs, cognitions and relationships (with oneself, others and God). The psycho-pastoral approach proposed takes the role of cognition seriously. It offers an excellent and practical method to understanding and managing destructive thinking, that promotes healing and wholeness, through the reframing and restructuring of destructive thoughts. The intention is to assist individuals to become more responsible and aware of their own thinking, as well as more knowledgeable about cognition in general, so as to act on this awareness. This includes the ability to monitor one’s own thinking, recognize errors and minimize destructive thoughts. The objective of this thesis is to explore the constructive contribution that pastoral care can make to destructive thinking.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Ons as mense is denkende wesens. Hierdie tesis handel oor die onderwerp ‘destruktiewe denkwyses’. In die breë sin beteken dit enige denke wat beskou word as teen-produktief, skadelik, wanaanpassings of wat ’n vernietigende en negatiewe uitwerking het op die persoon se identiteit, verhoudings, sosiale konteks en wêreldbeskouing. Van besondere belang tot hierdie studie is wanpersepsies, irrasionele gelowe en onvanpaste Godsbeelde (afgode). Daar is gevind dat ons alledaagse denke onbewustelik plaasvind en dat verkeerde opvattings en wanindrukke algemeen plaasvind. Hierdie gebeurlikhede is van besondere belang met betrekking tot hierdie studie, aangesien destruktiewe denkwyses makliker lei tot emosionele lyding, geestesstoornisse, onvanpaste afgodery en geloofsafwykings. Somtyds beland ons in ’n negatiewe patroon of raak vasgevang in ons manier van denke, gevoelens en optrede. Die idee om persepsies te verander om sodoende gevoelens te verander, is die sentrale fokus van hierde tesis. Die primêre doel is om die heropbouing van destruktiewe denke te vergemaklik. Die sentrale fokus van hierdie tesis is ’n teologiese ontwikkeling van begrip en perspektief van destruktiewe denke in die konteks van pastorale sorg. Dus ondersoek ek die tipe gedagtes waarna die pastorale versorger moet soek – wat beskou kan word as risiko faktore wat spirituele groei en welstand kan inhibeer. Ek identifiseer en moedig die ontwikkeling van gedagtes aan vir spirituele groei en ’n volwasse geloof. Om hierdie taak te bereik, begin ek met ’n ondersoek na destruktiewe denke in die Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Literature (CT & REBT onderskeidelik – Hoofstuk 2). Dit word opgevolg deur ’n ondersoek na ‘destruktiewe denke’ met die interaksie tussen geloofs- en Christelike spiritualiteit (Hoofstuk 3). Ek stel dan ’n pastorale model van spirituele heling voor wat pastorale versorgers kan help om destruktiewe denkwyses te verstaan en aan te spreek in ’n konstruktiewe en verantwoordelike wyse (Hoofstuk 4). Die gevolgtrekking volgens hierdie studie is dat ons gedagtes die middelpunt van ons handeling as denkende wesens is. Destruktiewe gedagtes kan ’n ontstellende uitwerking op ons spirituele en psigologiese lewens hê. Ons gedagtes het die vermoë om ons te vernietig en te verander. Met nabetragting van die potensiële impak van destruktiewe gedagtes op die individu se spiritualiteit en spirituele welstand, word ’n paar godsdienstige denkrigtings geïdentifiseer – soos onvanpaste afgode. Met bepaling van die verhouding tussen ’n mens se Godsbeeld en psigologiese en spirituele welstand, word voorgestel dat daar ’n verband is tussen ’n mens se persepsies en spirituele en psigologiese welstand. Gevolglik stel ek voor dat daar ’n holistiese benadering tot destruktiewe denkwyses, met inagneming van ’n persoon se geloof, spirituele volwassenheid, godsdiens, persepsies en verhoudings met homself, andere en God, moet wees. Die voorgestelde psigo-pastorale benadering maak erns met die rol van persepsie. Dit bied ’n uitstekende en praktiese metode aan vir begrip en beheer van destruktiewe denke. Dit bevorder heling deur die heropbouing van destruktiewe denke. Die plan is om persone te help om meer bewus en ingelig te wees oor hulle eie denke en persepsies in die algemeen en meer verantwoordelik op te tree. Dit sluit die vermoë in om jou eie gedagtes te monitor, flaters te herken en destruktiewe denke te verminder. Die doel van hierdie tesis is om die konstruktiewe bydrae wat pastorale sorg tot destruktiewe denke kan maak, te ondersoek.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/79961
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