Designing rites to re-enchant secularized society: new varieties of spiritualized therapy in contemporary Sweden

J Relig Health. 2012 Jun;51(2):402-18. doi: 10.1007/s10943-010-9356-5.


Detraditionalization in late modernity in Western society has affected the domains of both traditional religion and clinical psychotherapy. Sweden, which is said to be one of the most secularized societies in the world, instead, has allowed the public domain to be colonized by new, spiritualized practices. Sold as therapy, the services of new spiritual leaders offer anti-stress techniques to prevent burnout, or leaders are trained to develop their leadership in coaching activities. New varieties of spiritualized therapy are rapidly increasing in contemporary Sweden, typical of which is to have added healing rhetoric to their agenda, such as "find your inner self" or "develop your inner potential." Four common denominators seem to guide these practices: self-appointed leaders, individual-centered rites, realization of one's Self, and intense emotions. We might also add a fifth aspect: profit. Rites have become a commodity and are sold as liberating practices for burnt-out souls or for people in pursuit of self-realization.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Attitude to Health
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Quality of Life*
  • Secularism*
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Perception*
  • Spiritual Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Spirituality*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Sweden