Healthy and unhealthy religious conversions

The research identified a significant difference in the types of “conversion” experience the “seeker” experienced, including impact on their well being, their relationships, self-definition and worldview. Unhealthy conversion process leads to radicalisation, isolation and communal division. it is important to differentiate between conversion and awakening. For the purposes of this outline, conversion is an ego based transformation, while awakening is transpersonal, beyond ego development towards self-realisation and authenticity. There is increasing evidence of radicalisation with British born minority communities. This research identified the pathways and points of vulnerability among the seekers.

Conversion Motifs

There are at least 9 separate motifs which instigate the conversion experience, these are:

1. Intellectual – Conversion through reading and independent investigation
2. Experiential – Conversion through active participation
3. Mystical- Conversion following mystical experience
4. Affection – Conversion through strong personal attachment
5. Coercive – Conversion through pressure
6. Revivalist- Conversion through ecstatic arousal in group context
7. Negativist – opposing family
8. Alloic mastery – fighting on the “disadvantage side”
9. Alloic sympathy – sharing possession

Following the initial motivation, the seeker especially following an experiential, mystical, affection or through ecstatic arousal in group context has a strong desire to recreate, hold or enhance the experience. It is at this precise stage that the seeker becomes highly vulnerable as a result from a lack of understanding of their own experience and unaware of their vulnerability.