"No One's Supposed to Stay Healthy This Way." Health-Related Conspiracy Theories in Subjective Theories About Health and Illness. Using the Heidelberg Structure-Formation Technique
Conspiracy theories can be regarded as subjective theories, devised by people to explain impactful negative events. Consequently, methods to investigate subjective theories might be useful in researching (subjective) conspiracy theories. The study presented here aimed to explore the role of conspiracy theories in subjective theories of illness for people who have turned away from scientifically-oriented medicine. The Heidelberg structure-formation technique was used to capture the subjective theories of six adherents of alternative medicine. Our findings give first insights that health-related conspiracy theories are an inherent part of alternative medical narratives and might serve the purpose of differentiating them from conventional medicine. A follow-up survey during the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic supported this view. The study also gave insight into which aspects of alternative medical treatments were appealing to our participants. Here, supposed psychological and spiritual mechanisms were deemed most important. A key factor, both for turning towards alternative medicine and for believing in conspiracy theories, was an individual experience of control.
Copyright (c) 2021 Rosa Semle, Marius Raab
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