Thesis Title

Christian Science and Anxiety in the Life of Principia College Students

Date of Graduation

Summer 2007


Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Committee Chair

John Schmalzbauer


anxiety, Christian Science, Principia College, narratology, Pargament

Subject Categories



Anxiety is attracting increasing attention as a detrimental force in the lives of college students. Religion, a coping strategy for many in dealing with anxiety, has not been looked upon favorably by psychologists as it has often been perceived as actually causing anxiety. The central focus of Christian Science is healing all ills-- including anxiety. In the search for effective coping methods for college students, and an increased dialogue between psychologists and religious adherents, this thesis looks at how religion and anxiety functions in the lives of students at Principia College, a college for Christian Scientists. Using narrative research methodologies, the narratives of these students' experiences at this college are compared to the positive and negative religious coping methods that Kenneth Pargament has investigated. The aim of doing this comparison is to demonstrate how their religion acts in alleviating and accentuating anxiety in their daily college lives. I find that these methods, while helpful in understanding that experiences of these students with religion and anxiety in college, only paint a part of the picture. To further understand these multi-faceted experiences, I employ the text-based role theory of Hjalmar Sundén. I determine that compassion is the single most important thing for further aiding these students in the dealings with anxiety at Principia College.


© Heather J. Fabian