The Opiate of the Masses: Measuring Spiritual Bypass and Its Relationship to Spirituality, Religion, Mindfulness, Psychological Distress, and Personality

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This article discusses the development of the Spiritual Bypass Scale-13 (SBS-13). Spiritual bypass is a clinical process of avoiding difficult psychological material using spiritual beliefs, practices, or experiences. A major limitation to the literature on spiritual bypass is that no psychometrically sound measures of the phenomenon exist, thus preventing scholars and clinicians from understanding its causes and treatment implications beyond anecdotal case reports. The SBS-13 was developed using a community sample of 661 participants. The factor structure of the SBS-13 was investigated using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis which identified 2 facets (Psychological Avoidance and Spiritualizing) with a second order facet (Spiritual Bypass). The reliability of SBS-13 was satisfactory, with alpha coefficients ranging from .75 to .87 across 2 different samples. The convergent, discriminant, predictive, and incremental validity of the SBS-13 was assessed using several criterion variables including measures of spirituality, religiosity, religious problems-solving style, mindfulness, stress, anxiety, depression, and the Five Factor Model of Personality. We concluded that the SBS-13 is a significant contribution to the research on spiritual bypass and can be used in clinical settings as a screening tool and for future research.

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