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.
|Commitee:||Sharpe, Diana, Tarico, Valerie|
|School:||Pacifica Graduate Institute|
|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|
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