Does Spirituality Promote Autonomy or Submission?


  • Muhammad Syafiq Program Studi Psikologi Universitas Negeri Surabaya



Religion, spirituality, autonomy, submission


Studies on spirituality have been conducted extensively in psychology over the last decade. However, the topic has been mostly explored in mental-health setting rather than in other areas in psychology. It is not surprising, then, if the most issues explored in the studies were the impacts or functions of spirituality toward psychological well-being rather than toward the realisation of human potentials. In fact, the main reason why many scientists in psychology propose to study 'spirituality' as a separated construct from 'religion' is its unique characteristic which enable individuals to achieve their personal higher meanings or values. This article aims to examine whether spirituality and spiritual practices promote autonomy as claimed by many scientists. The insights revealed from studies on Eastern spiritualities and Western new age spirituality movement will be employed.


Adorno, T. W., E. Frenkel-Brunswik, D. J. Levinson, and R. N. Sanford. (1950). The authoritarian personality. NewYork: Harper & Row.

Altemeyer, B. and B. Hunsberger (1992). Authoritarianism, religious fundamentalism, quest and prejudice. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion 2:11333.

Amarasingam, A. (2009). New age spirituality, quantum mysticism an self-psychology: changing ourselves from the inside out. Mental Health, Religion, & Culture, 12 (3): 277-287.

Battista, J.R. (1996). ˜Offensive spirituality and spiritual defenses, in B.W. Sutton, A.B. Chinen and J.R. Battista (eds.). Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology. New York: Basic Books

Bellah, R. N., Madsen, R., Sullivan, W. M., Swidler, A., & Tipton, S. M. (2008). Habits of the heart: Individualism and commitment in American life. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Bloch, J. P. (1998). Individualism and Community in Alternative Spiritual œMagic. Journal for Scientific Study of Religion, 37 (2): 286-302.

Cray, G., Mayo, B., Collins-Mayo, S., & Savage, S. (2006). Making Sense of Generation Y: The World View of 15- to 25-year-olds (Explorations). London: Church House Publishing.

Frankl, V., (1966). Self-transendence as human phenomenon. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 6: 97-106.

Geels, A. (1996). A note on the psychology of Dhikr: The Helvati-Jerrahi order of dervishes in Istambul. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 6:229-257.

Hill, P. C., & Pargament, K. I. (2003). Advances in the conceptualization and measurement of religion and spirituality: Implications for physical and mental health research. American Psychologist, 58, 64-74.

Isgandarova, N. (2005). Islamic Spiritual Care in a Health Care Setting. In A. Meier dkk. (eds). Spirituality & Health: Multidisciplinary Explorations. (hlm. 85-101). Kanada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Kasser, Virginia & Ryan, Richard M. (1999). The Relation of Psychological Needs for Autonomy and Relatedness to Vitality, WellBeing, and Mortality in a Nursing Home. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29 (5), 935-954.

Levenson, M. R., & Khilwati, A. H. (1999). Mystical Self-Annihilation: Method and Meaning. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 9 (4): 251-257.

Loutfy, N., & Berguno, G. (2005). The Existential Thoughts of the Sufis. Existential Analysis, 16.1: 144-155.

Muzaffer, Abdullah. (2003). The Dangers of Authoritarianism in Spiritual Development. Available at:

Pargament, K., I. (1999). The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality? Yes or No. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 9 (1): 3-16.

Ryan, Richard M. & Deci, Edward L. (2006). Self-Regulation and the Problem of Human Autonomy: Does Psychology Need Choice, Self-Determination, and Will? Journal of Personality 74 (6), 1557-1585.

Saroglou, V., & Munoz-Garcia, A. (2008). Individual Diferences in Religion and Spirituality: An issueof Personality Traits and/or Values. Journal for Scientific Study of Religion, 47 (1): 83-101.

Schneiders, S. M. (2000). œReligion and Spirituality: Strangers, Rivals, or Partners?. The Santa Clara Lectures, 6 (2): 1-26.

Schneiders, S. M. (1986). Theology and spirituality: Strangers, rivals, or partners? Horizons, 13, 253-274

Stiffoss-Hanssen, H. (1999). Religion and Spirituality: What a Europian Ears Hears. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 9 (1): 25-33.

Vaughan, F. (1991). Spiritual issues in psychotherapy. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 23(2), 105-120.

Wink, P., Dillon, M., & Prettyman, A. (2007). Religiousness Seeking, Spiritual Seeking, and Authoritarianism. Journal for Scientific Study of Religion, 46 (3): 321-335.

Wulff, D. M. (1997). Psychology of religion: Classic and contemporary views (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.



Abstract views: 598 , PDF Downloads: 357

Most read articles by the same author(s)

> >>