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Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria

Print version ISSN 1516-4446

Abstract

MOREIRA-ALMEIDA, Alexander  and  CARDENA, Etzel. Differential diagnosis between non-pathological psychotic and spiritual experiences and mental disorders: a contribution from Latin American studies to the ICD-11. Rev. Bras. Psiquiatr. [online]. 2011, vol.33, suppl.1, pp. s21-s28. ISSN 1516-4446.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1516-44462011000500004.

OBJECTIVE: To review research articles in psychiatry and psychology involving Latin American populations and/or produced by Latin American scholars to investigate the differential diagnosis between spiritual/anomalous experiences and mental disorders in order to contribute to the validity of the International Classification of Diseases towards its 11th edition in this area. METHOD: We searched electronic databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, Scopus, and SciELO) using relevant keywords (possession, trance, religious experience, spiritual experience, latin, Brazil) for articles with original psychiatric and psychological data on spiritual experiences. We also analyzed the references of the articles found and contacted authors for additional references and data. RESULTS: There is strong evidence that psychotic and anomalous experiences are frequent in the general population and that most of them are not related to psychotic disorders. Often, spiritual experiences involve non-pathological dissociative and psychotic experiences. Although spiritual experiences are not usually related to mental disorders, they may cause transient distress and are commonly reported by psychotic patients. CONCLUSION: We propose some features that suggest the non-pathological nature of a spiritual experience: lack of suffering, lack of social or functional impairment, compatibility with the patient's cultural background and recognition by others, absence of psychiatric comorbidities, control over the experience, and personal growth over time.

Keywords : Psychotic disorders; Spirituality; Diagnosis, differential; Classification.

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