Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Anthropology

Content Description

1 online resource (xix, 337 pages) : illustrations (some color), charts.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Lawrence M. Schell

Committee Members

Walter A. Little, Gordon G. Gallup


diathesis-stress, dissociation, embodiment, glossolalia, Pentecostal, stress, Stress management, Glossolalia, Pentecostalism

Subject Categories

Biological and Physical Anthropology | Biological Psychology | Social and Cultural Anthropology


This study tests the hypothesis that long–term experience of Apostolic Pentecostal glossolalia or “speaking in tongues” reduces the reactivity of biological stress response to normal or "daily" stressors. Glossolalia is a form of religious dissociation. Dissociation is a universal capacity often conflated with “trance.” It refers to the partitioning of awareness associated with a variety of cross–cultural forms, from daydreaming and denial to possession trance, shamanic spirit journeys, and dissociative identity disorder. Dissociation is believed to reduce or filter stress by mediating evaluation of potential stressors and reactivity of the mechanisms of biological stress response. Previous studies have examined these mechanisms in clinical settings and in relation to secularized dissociative phenomena, but few have attempted to evaluate the stress reducing and filtering capacities of culturally relative dissociation in situ. This is important, as forms of dissociation, such as meditation and hypnosis, are used in medical application for improving health by reducing stress. The current study sought to isolate a form of culturally relative dissociation in assessing its influence on biological stress response. This was accomplished through a two year investigation among Apostolics in New York’s mid—Hudson Valley.