Praying for a Miracle Part II: Idiosyncrasies of Spirituality and Its Relations With Religious Expressions in Health

Front Psychol. 2022 Jun 27;13:893780. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.893780. eCollection 2022.


As a continuation of the previous paper, Praying for a Miracle - Negative or Positive Impacts on Health Care, published in this research topic, this second paper aims at delving deeper into the same theme, but now from a simultaneously practical and conceptual approach. With that in mind, we revisit three theoretical models based on evidence, through which we can understand the role of a miracle in hospital settings and assess its impact in health contexts. For each of the models described, we seek to illustrate the possible outcomes of belief in miracles as a modality of religious coping in situations of stress and suffering experienced by patients and caregivers in the face of gloomy diagnoses on coming across the limits of medicine to revert certain illnesses (e.g., child cancer) or biological conditions (e.g., fetal malformation). We posit that the judgment about how such a mechanism is healthy or not for each of the people involved (patient, caregiver, and/or health professional) depends on the modulation between the conception of the miracle adopted by the patient and/or caregiver and the concrete outcomes of the way of responding to the situations that accompany the gravity of the illness or condition. To better understand this process of psychological modulation that accompanies belief in miracles, we revisit the concepts of spirituality, religiosity, and religion, pointing out the connections and distinctions between them from a phenomenological perspective. We then present a conceptual model that takes these connections and distinctions into consideration to foster an understanding of miracles, their relations with the diversity of experiences of people who meet in hospital settings (patients, caregivers, and health professionals), and their respective impacts on healthcare.

Keywords: miracle belief; psychology of religion; religion; religiosity; religious coping; spirituality.

Publication types

  • Review