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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 54 (2012) 5, 419 - 428

New research

The God image in relation to autistic traits and religious denomination

H. Schaap-Jonker, J. van Schothorst-van Roekel, B. Sizoo

Estimates of the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (asd) range from 0.6 to 1.0 per cent of the general population. Among the characteristic traits of asd are qualitative impairments in social reciprocity and in abstract imagination. Not surprisingly, these traits can affect the personal religion of asd patients, in the same manner as religious background does.
aim To determine to what extent the religiousness of religious patients is associated with autistic traits and religious background.
method 78 Dutch adults attending a Protestant mental healthcare institution as outpatients were asked to complete the ‘Questionnaire God Image’ (qgi) and the ‘Autism Quotiënt’ (aqnl). In this cross-sectional study various aspects of the God image were related to autistic traits and religious background.
results The more that respondents reported autistic traits, the greater was their fear of God and the less positive were their feelings. Respondents who were strict Calvinists experienced greater fear of God than did other respondents.
conclusion Treatment of religious patients with asd needs to take into account these patients’ greater fear of God and their less positive feelings. Those patients who had had a strict Calvinist upbringing had a more pronounced fear of God.

keywords autism, God image, religion, strict Calvinists