Virtual Conference
Mental Health 2022

Maysar S

Phoenecia University, Lebanon

Title: Learning Spiritual Behaviours as a Means to Reverse Harmful Epigenetic Changes Resulting from Domestic Violence


Excessive stress can epigenetically alter an individual’s DNA and affect mental health. For instance, women who have been exposed to domestic violence have been found to have psychopathological alterations in their behaviors and in their hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis functioning. However, these changes are reversible, because people can change their genetic makeup by changing their thoughts and beliefs. This provides an opportunity for domestic violence survivors to acquire behavioral and cognitive practices that support healthier epigenetic modifications in the expression of genes. The use of strategies centered on spirituality has been proposed as a skill that can enhance resilience, which is the ability to adapt to stress and adversities. Similar to the epigenetic mechanisms involved in excessive stress, resilience can also alter gene expressions, which can support healthier neuropsychological functioning. The conclusion I draw from the review of recent research is that for victims of domestic violence, enhancing their spirituality through prayers, meditation, or cognitive reframing can lead to neuropsychological changes that can offset the negative psychopathological alterations that occur during excessive stress. Recommendations are that a study that frames spirituality as a buffer for stress caused by domestic violence could be significant in further illuminating the power of thoughts and beliefs in influencing our neurological functioning, and such a study or studies should be conducted with diverse populations and in a variety of settings