The Differential Relationship of Mental Health and Sense of Purpose

faithMulti-faceted relationships may exist between an individual’s sense of purpose (SOP) and their specific mental health symptoms. Generally, the notion exists that those with certain mental health symptoms experience a decreased SOP.

However, recent research has noted that certain psychopathology such as grandiose delusions, may contribute to an increased SOP and further, an increased quality of life.

The current study sought to examine relationships between SOP and mental health symptomology. Based on the current literature, we developed the following exploratory hypotheses:

1) SOP would be negatively predicted by mood symptoms (anxiety, depression, stress) and 2) SOP will be predicted by both delusional ideation and religious/spiritual beliefs, but delusional ideation would contribute to the prediction of SOP above and beyond these other normative beliefs.

To date, little research is available examining the unique contribution of normative beliefs (e.g. spirituality) and non-normative beliefs (i.e. delusions) as they relate to one’s SOP. Data regarding SOP, schizotypy, delusional ideation, hallucinatory experiences, and mood variables was collected from an upwards of 400 participants.

As anticipated, SOP was positively predicted by expansive (p<0.01) and primary (p<0.05) delusional ideation, while simple delusions (“Do you ever feel as if your insides might be rotting?”), depression (p<0.01), and interpersonal characteristics (p<0.01) negatively predicted SOP.

Religiosity (normative belief) positively predicted SOP in all linear regression models. Information from this study can add to a greater understanding of how much sense of purpose should be incorporated into the understanding and the treatment of individuals. Further results and implications will be discussed.

Authors: Sherry Pujji, Adriana Pennacchi, & Emmanuel Alvarez

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