Thematic Content Analysis of Repugnant Intrusions in Highly Religious Canadian and Turkish Samples

Kahya Y., Inozu M., Clark D. A.

Journal of Religion and Health, 2023 (AHCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10943-023-01747-1
  • Journal Name: Journal of Religion and Health
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, Periodicals Index Online, ATLA Religion Database, CINAHL, EMBASE, Index Islamicus, MEDLINE, Psycinfo
  • Keywords: Repugnant intrusions, Sexual intrusions, Religious intrusions, High religiosity, Unwanted intrusive thoughts, Thematic content analysis, Culture, Qualitative analysis
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.The degree of religiosity, a culturally relevant concept, has been associated with obsessive phenomena such as obsessional symptoms, the nature of unwanted intrusive thoughts, and responses to intrusive thoughts. Although previous research reported that repugnant (i.e., sexual and religious) intrusions had the lowest endorsement rates, these were also the most difficult to control and more likely to turn into obsessions. Highly religious individuals are more likely to be distressed by repugnant intrusions as the repugnant nature of intrusive thoughts critically threatens the perceived self. Thus, individuals with high religiosity may be more likely to respond to repugnant intrusions with dysfunctional strategies and thus become more vulnerable to OCD. This study presents the endorsement rates and qualitative features of sexual and religious intrusions among highly religious Canadian and Turkish samples. Highly religious participants were interviewed using the International Intrusive Thoughts Interview Schedule (IITIS). Thematic content analysis of the IITIS data was conducted with MAXQDA. Sexual intrusion themes of Forceful Sex, Gay Sex, Immoral Sex, and Sex with Undesirable People were identified in both samples. Religious intrusion themes of Questioning, How They Are Perceived by God, Violating Religious Doctrines, Punishment by God, and Worship also emerged in both samples. The percentages of these themes suggested the presence of cross-cultural qualitative similarities and differences.