Adolescent Conversion and the Search for Identity

  • Chana Ullman
Part of the Emotions, Personality, and Psychotherapy book series (EPPS)


Dramatic religious experiences may occur at any age. Leo Tolstoy experienced his at the age of 50, by which time he was already well known and admired for his masterpiece War and Peace. Thomas Merton, who converted to Catholicism, experienced his first profoundly moving religious experience at the age of 19. At the time he was vacationing in Italy, still mourning the death of his father a year earlier (Furlong, 1980). In the intense religious fervor of some revival meetings of the early 19th century, children as young as seven were reported to have undergone conversions:

Services were held for seven days and sometimes all night. A girl of seven preached from a man’s shoulders till she fell exhausted, a lad of twelve exhorted till he fell and was then held up and continued till the power of speech was lost. (Hall, 1905, p. 286)


Religious Experience Parental Influence Parental Authority Formal Operation Conversion Experience 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chana Ullman
    • 1
  1. 1.The Hebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael

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