Skip to main content
Psychiatry and Religion

Psychiatry and Religion
The Convergence of Mind and Spirit

Edited by James K. Boehnlein, M.D., M.Sc.
224 pages
ISBN 978-0-88048-920-1
Hardcover Also Available In: eBook
Item #8920

Psychiatry and religion both draw on the rich traditions of human thought and practice. The ways in which humans attempt to understand and interact with their world and give meaning to their lives have occupied philosophers, religious leaders, and scientists for centuries. Psychiatry is unique among the medical sciences in that, as it attempts to explain the full range of human behavior, it often ranges well beyond the realm of natural science and into that of philosophy.

To deal with contemporary ethical issues, psychiatrists must be able to draw on a broad intellectual tradition not only in the biological sciences, but also in the humanities and social sciences, which encompass the comparative study of religion. Psychiatry and Religion addresses both the polarities and the unifying concepts between psychiatry and religion, with a unique focus on the point at which these two domains meet.

Divided into three parts, this scholarly yet eminently readable volume considers both theoretical and clinical issues and includes topics rarely discussed elsewhere in the literature:

  • Part I: Theoretical Principles and Historical Trends—Covers both historical and current cross-cultural perspectives of psychiatry and the major religions, including a close look at cults

  • Part II: Treatment Issues at the Interface of Psychiatry and Religion—Discusses the influence of religious movements on psychiatric therapies, the moral and spiritual issues in the wake of traumatic experiences, and the separate yet complementary roles of mental health practitioners and clergy in restoring patients to health

  • Part III: Looking Toward the Future—Considers bioethics, religious and spiritual issues in psychiatric education and training, and religion and future psychiatric nosology and treatment

Written by clinicians and educators, this fascinating book fills a significant gap in the literature by providing a much-needed sociological and cross-cultural perspective of theory and practice at the interface of where psychiatry and religion. As more and more psychiatry training programs and medical schools begin to include courses on religion and spirituality, psychiatric educators and practitioners alike will find this book to be a valuable resource.

Section I: Theoretical Principles and Historical Trends. The historical relationship between psychiatry and the major religions. Psychiatry and religion in cross-cultural context. Psychoanalysis and religion: current perspectives. A psychological perspective on cults. Section II: Treatment Issues at the Interface of Psychiatry and Religion. Psychiatric therapies influenced by religious movements. Moral and spiritual issues following traumatization. The role of clergy in mental health care. Section III: Looking Toward the Future. The worlds of religion and psychiatry: bioethics as arbiter of mutual respect. Religious and spiritual issues in psychiatric education and training. Religion and future psychiatric nosology and treatment. Index.

"In view of the breath and depth of both religion and psychiatry, this book does an admirable job of exploring and examining important issues and themes. It goes way beyond the standard Freudian position that religion is a wish-fulfilling illusion and addresses important topics such as the moral and spiritual issues following trauma."—Choice

"A rewarding and insightful demonstration of how psychiatry and religion together enrich our understanding of human experience and broaden our therapeutic effectiveness."—Armando R. Favazza, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri

"Shortly after the turn of the 19th century Sigmund Freud discovered that several of his patients had transferred their parental conflicts onto their attitudes toward God. Inspired by such discoveriesFreud proceeded to compose his classic Totem and Taboo, which linked the beginning of religions to human intra-psychic dynamics. The legacy of this seminal work fostered a rich field of research in psychiatry, anthropology and religious studies throughout the 20th century.

James Boehnlein and his colleagues have aptly captured the scope and depth of this field in this book. Each author has conducted and published research demonstrating the intricate interconnections between religion and psychic structures and their influences on shaping and abating mental illnesses. Psychiatry and Religion will prove to be a valuable resource and reference in psychiatry, psychology, anthropology, and religious studies graduate education courses, as well as a good read for those who have already graduated from programs in these disciplines."—Edward F. Foulks, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Associate Dean of Graduate Medical Education, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana

James K. Boehnlein, M.D., M.Sc., is Associate Professor and Director of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry at the Department of Psychiatry at Oregon Health Sciences University and is Associate Director for Education, Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Portland, Oregon.