"spiritual bypass refers to the unhealthy misuse of the spiritual life to avoid dealing with psychological difficulties. ... serves an avoidance function; it allows the individual to avoid the often painful and difficult psychological work of healing old wounds.... As such, the person in spiritual bypass actually might be best conceptualized as in a state of developmental arrest, which may result in increased psychological symptoms.
Spiritual bypass has been hypothesized to manifest in a number of ways, such as extreme external locus of control and abdication of personal responsibility, spiritual obsession, and the repression of emotions, as well as spiritual narcissism — an 'I'm enlightened and you're not' syndrome. The genuine spiritual path involves awareness and acceptance of present moment circumstances. In contrast, spiritual bypass involves a denial of at least some aspects of this experience.
Because spiritual bypass is a phenomenon that takes place largely outside an individual's conscious awareness, paper-and-pencil measures of spirituality are unlikely to fully capture the function of spiritual practices in the lives of persons experiencing spiritual bypass.
... many people may not mature into their personal and genuine spiritual life until after their college years."
Cashwell CS, Glosoff HL, Hammond C. Spiritual bypass: A preliminary investigation. Counseling and Values 2010; 54(2): 162-174.
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