Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Voices Reclaimed: The Lived Experience of Women who Left Protestant Fundamentalism
by Gillette, Tracy Marie, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2016, 167; 10159201
Abstract (Summary)

The literature on leaving fundamentalist religious traditions is persistently insensitive to gender differences, specifically the experiences of women who have left a fundamentalist religion (Peek, Lowe, & Williams, 1991). Recently, women have begun sharing their personal experiences of apostasy through memoirs, blogs, and social media (Cross, 2006; Drain & Pulitzer, 2013; Jessop & Palmer, 2008). Utilizing Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009), this dissertation illuminates the lived experience of women who left a Protestant fundamentalist religion. The findings reflect the participants’ experiences in four dimensions of life: the psychological consequences of leaving fundamentalism, the identity consequences of leaving fundamentalism, the gendered consequences of leaving fundamentalism, and the relational consequences of leaving fundamentalism. The psychological findings highlight an often painful and traumatizing experience of leaving fundamentalism. The identity findings indicate that fundamentalism impedes identity development and that individuals have the freedom to explore their own identity subsequent to leaving. In particular, the gendered findings point at internalized oppression women carry related to being raised in fundamentalism as well as a sense of empowerment many discover after leaving. Finally, the relational findings emphasize often long-standing interpersonal challenges women face after leaving fundamentalism, while also finding community and support outside, which proves immensely healing. The results from this study articulate the deeply meaningful experience of leaving Protestant fundamentalism for women, and provide insight into the clinical implications for treatment of the effects of leaving fundamentalism on women.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rhode-Brown, Juliet
Commitee: Sharpe, Diana, Tarico, Valerie
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 78/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Womens studies, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Apostasy, Feminism, Leaving the fold, Protestant fundamentalism, Psychology, Religious disaffiliation, Sexism
Publication Number: 10159201
ISBN: 978-1-369-14192-4
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