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  • 1.
    Visuri, Ingela
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Humanities, Religious studies. Södertörns högskola, Religionsvetenskap.
    A room of one’s own: Autistic imagination as a stage for parasocial interaction2019In: Article in journal (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This article examines the role and function of imagination and parasocial/fictional relations among autistic individuals. Interviews with 17 high functioning young adults diagnosed on the autism spectrum illustrate how they frequently absorption into day dreams, fantasy literature and multiplayer online roleplaying games. Cognitive research however suggests that imagination is limited in autistic individuals; a conclusion which is currently challenged by scholars pointing towards a faulty stereotype. The results suggest that these opposed scholarly views can be bridged analytically and methodologically by separating between interpersonal  and intrapersonal imagination, of which only the former, social aspect is affected across the whole autism spectrum. The results moreover indicate that parasocial relations are used both for pleasure and to cope with adversities, and that imaginary realms serve as optimal ‘autistic spaces’ for simulating and practicing social interaction. Finally, the article provides a cognitive comparison between parasocial and invisible, ‘religious’ (e.g. gods, spirits and djinn) relations.

  • 2.
    Visuri, Ingela
    Södertörns högskola, Religionsvetenskap.
    Aspergers, andar och böner till Gud: En fallstudie om Aspergers syndrom, religion och andlighet2013 (ed. 1)Book (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This case study examined what impact the neurological disorder Asperger’s syndrome has on the line of reasoning about religion and spirituality. Also, the question of whether the four informants showed any tendency to use the cognitive tools called theory of mind (ToM), existential theory of mind (EToM) and hypersensitive agency detection device (HADD) or not was put forth. From the interviews five themes were extracted: a stereoscopical view upon the world, thoughts on physical causality, prayer used as one-way communication, spiritual agency and intentionality, as well as existential and social questions. These themes were subsequently matched with theories on ToM, EToM and HADD. The result of the case study showed that the informants’ line of reasoning only corresponded to two out of six possible and expected approaches to religion and spirituality. For example, the informants rejected literal readings of religious narratives and there were no signs of rigidity or specific interest in religious rituals. However, their arguments were often based on physical causality and they were creative in discerning logical connections between physical and spiritual concepts. Regarding the use of cognitive tools, the informants showed signs of using ToM, but only in relation to spirits, guardian angels and aliens. There was no perceived two-way interaction, and the informants seemed to separate between an impersonal, deistic image of God and other metaphysical and personal agents. Also, the informants appeared to use their HADD in reasoning on agency and intentionality, at least parts of it, while there were no signs of EToM in terms of meaning making arguments. In conclusion, it seems as if curiosity is a key element in the results, both in the informants’ line of reasoning about religion and spirituality and possibly in terms of activating some of the cognitive tools examined in this essay.

  • 3.
    Visuri, Ingela
    Religionsvetenskap, Södertörns högskola, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Could Everyone Talk to God?: A Case Study on Asperger's Syndrome, Religion, and Spirituality2012In: Journal of Religion, Disability & Health, ISSN 1522-8967, E-ISSN 1522-9122, Vol. 16, no 4, p. 352-378Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Four young adults diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome were interviewed to learn more about what impact this neurological disorder might have on the reasoning on religion and spirituality, particularly regarding their theory of mind and interaction with metaphysical agents. The result contradicts several predictions about Asperger's syndrome and religion, and when analyzing to what extent the theory of mind was used when reasoning on intentionality, it seems as if the informants separate between different kinds of metaphysical agents. The question remains whether their reasoning on religion and spirituality is more influenced by having a specific cognitive style or by their cultural context.

  • 4.
    Visuri, Ingela
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Humanities, Religious studies.
    Dis:order: Cognition explored through a different lens2019In: Evolution, Cognition and the History of Religion: a New Synthesis: Festschrift in Honour of Armin W. Geertz / [ed] A. K. Pedersen, I. Sælid Gilhus, L. H. Martin, J. Sinding Jensen, J. Sørensen, Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2019, p. 397-412Chapter in book (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In this chapter I discuss challenges that we are faced with when studying atypical populations, departing from my own research on religiosity in autistic individuals. The central argument is that the study of atypical cognition requires new approaches to terminology and methodology, and difficulties arise when we fail to do so. I will also turn a critical eye to the postulation that mentalizing difficulties are directly linked to atheism by departing from the understanding of cognition as embrained, embodied, encultured, extended and distributed.

  • 5.
    Visuri, Ingela
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Humanities, Religious studies.
    Empatiträning på schemat2015In: Från Alfons till Dostojevskij 2: Röster om Barnkonventionen / [ed] Petra Alfe Åslund, Stockholm: Fondi förlag , 2015, p. 64-69Chapter in book (Other academic)
    Abstract [sv]

    I detta kapitel diskuteras möjligheten att utgå ifrån berättande och rolltagande inom undervisning om de abrahamitiska religionerna (judendom, kristendom och islam). Syftet är att både bidra till elevernas förståelse av de olika traditionerna, samt utveckla deras empatiska förmågor. 

  • 6.
    Visuri, Ingela
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Humanities, Religious studies.
    Rethinking Autism, Theism, and Atheism: Bodiless Agents and Imaginary Realities2018In: Archive for the Psychology of Religion/ Archiv für Religionspsychologie, ISSN 0084-6724, E-ISSN 1573-6121, Vol. 40, no 1, p. 1-31Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This anthropologically informed study explores descriptions of communication with invisible, superhuman agents in high functioning young adults on the autism spectrum. Based on material from interviews, two hypotheses are formulated. First, autistic individuals may experience communication with bodiless agents (e.g., gods, angels, and spirits) as less complex than interaction with peers, since it is unrestricted by multisensory input, such as body language, facial expressions, and intonation. Second, descriptions of how participants absorb into “imaginary realities” suggest that such mental states are desirable due to qualities that facilitate social cognition: While the empirical world comes through as fragmented and incoherent, imaginary worlds offer predictability, emotional coherence, and benevolent minds. These results do not conform to popular expectations that autistic minds are less adapted to experience supernatural agents, and it is instead argued that imaginative, autistic individuals may embrace religious and fictive agents in search for socially and emotionally comprehensible interaction.

  • 7.
    Visuri, Ingela
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Humanities, Religious studies.
    Sensory supernatural experiences in autism2019In: Religion, Brain & Behavior, ISSN 2153-599X, E-ISSN 2153-5981Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study examines attribution of supernatural agency in 17 Swedish, high-functioning young adults on the autism spectrum, who describe sensing presence, feeling touch, and seeing visions without input of somatosensory stimuli. These participants report many more such incidents than the matched, non-autistic group participants, and current research suggests that unusual somatosensory experiences are prevalent in the autistic population. Attribution of invisible agency is understood as a sense-making coping strategy, and it is argued that esoteric content in fantasy literature, movies and computer games explain why these young adults prefer to attribute agency to ghosts, spirits and demons, rather than god(s). The study thereby extends and challenges the study of autism and religiosity by exploring the intersection between autistic embodiment and encultured cognition.

  • 8.
    Visuri, Ingela
    Religious education, Cybergymnasiet, Stockholm, Sweden.
    The teacher's dilemma: Exploring the border between culture relativism and prejudice when discussing gender issues in islam2009In: Your heritage and mine: Teaching in a multi-religious classroom / [ed] Roos, Lena and Berglund, Jenny, Uppsala: Religionshistoriska avdelningen, Uppsala universitet , 2009, 1, p. 170-180Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 9.
    Visuri, Ingela
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Humanities, Religious studies. Södertörns högskola, Religionsvetenskap.
    Varieties of Supernatural Experience: the Case of High-Functioning Autism2019Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    It is argued in the cognitive science of religion (CSR) that the empathic ability to ‘mindread’ others underpins  the experience of supernatural communication with gods, ghosts, and spirits. As autism is characterized by mentalizing difficulties, CSR scholars have expected autistic individuals would find supernatural agency incomprehensible. This thesis however turns the question around: why do autistic individuals engage intimately in supernatural relations, despite the social difficulties they face in everyday life?

    The thesis aims to provide new insights on autistic and religious cognition through examination of supernatural descriptions provided by 17 young, high-functioning autistic adults (16–21 years of age) who label themselves as ‘religious’ or ‘spiritual’. The research questions explore: (1) cognitive aspects of experienced interaction with invisible agents, compared with human interaction, (2) the prevalence of unusual embodied experiences (e.g. feeling touch and seeing visions without external input) and its role in attributions of supernatural agency, and (3) the psychological function of parasocial (fiction-based) interaction in imaginary realms.

    This interdisciplinary project draws on work undertaken in the cognitive science of religion, cognitive and critical autism research, and psychological anthropology. Mixed qualitative and quantitative methods are employed to enable a kaleidoscopic outlook on the topics explored, and to promote a dialogue between idiographically and nomothetically oriented scholars. The study provides first-person perspectives on religious and autistic cognition, which is understood as dynamic interaction between embrained, embodied, encultured and situated input.

    It is argued in Publication I that  ‘bodiless’ interaction facilitates mentalizing, also in relation to invisible agents, as no cross-modal synchronization of mimicry, body language and intonation is required. Publication II examines the prevalence of unusual, embodied experiences in autism, and it is proposed that supernatural attributions offer enchantment and sense-making of potentially frightening experiences. Results from Publication III suggest that  imaginary worlds and parasocial relations function as ‘simulators’ that autistic individuals use to rehearse social interaction. Publication IV offers a theoretical and methodological discussion regarding the study of atypical cognition. Importantly, this thesis illustrates that these imaginative autistic participants are not drawn to  supernatural frame- works in spite of, but because of the supernatural and parasocial characters these provide.

  • 10.
    Visuri, Ingela (Author of introduction, etc.)
    Cybergymnasiet, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Att arbeta med IE-metoden2005In: Muslimska berättelser [Islamic Legends] / [ed] Jan Knappert, Stockholm: Fondi , 2005, p. 8-15Chapter in book (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
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