This book is about the dramatic experience of religious conver sion. The phenomenon of religious conversion lies at the crossroad of several disciplines. As the title of this book indicates, my own interest in religious conversion is not sociological, historical, nor anthropolog ical. My primary interest is not even in the domain of the psychology of religion. That is, this book is not a comprehensive review of the social psychological factors that shape religious beliefs in general and religious conversions in particular. Rather, my primary interest is in the experience of conversion as an instance of a meaningful, sudden change in the course of individu al lives. Religious conversion is examined in this book prinwrily from the point of view of the psychology of the self. My aim is to elucidate the experience of religious conversion as a change in the self and to raise suggestions for the study of the self that derive from the data on religious conversion. This interest dictated the scope as well as the methods of the present investigation. Namely, I have chosen to study individuals who have indeed changed visibly as a result of their conversion. My inquiry was based on self-report, assuming the importance of the person's own point of view. Finally, my inquiry was semi-clinical, vii viii PREFACE based on the assumption of an underlying structure to the varieties of conversion experiences.
Table of Contents1. Haven of Last Resort: Conversion and the Search for Relief.- 2. The Relationship with Authority: Conversion and the Quest for the Perfect Father.- 3. The Infatuation with the Group: Conversion and Social Influence.- 4. Adolescent Conversion and the Search for Identity.- 5. Merger with the Perfect Object: Conversion and the Narcissistic Condition.- 6. Conversion and the Quest for Meaning.- 7. The Transformed Self: Summary and Implications.- Appendix I. Interview.- Appendix II. Interview Scoring.- Appendix III. Discrete Emotions: Scoring Rules.- References.