The principal work of the asylum chaplain is to preach and conduct the other exercises of worship in the institution, and, in his visits among the different wards, present the truths and consolations of religion to such of the inmates as are capable of comprehending them or being influenced by them. This is not, indeed, his whole work. If he is worthy of his position he will ever seek to be the friend of the patients, sympathizing with them in their troubles, talking with them on any matter in which they show an interest, and inviting their attention to such subjects as may divert their thoughts from themselves. But the chaplain must always remember that his distinctive ministerial duties constitute his main work. An idea, I find, prevails largely in the outside world, that religion is one of the prominent causes that lead to insanity. Frequently is the remark made to me by clergymen and others when reference is made to my work in the asylum, Many of the patients will have had their reason upset by religious influences. My reply to such an assertion is that, in very rare instances indeed, have I found religion the real cause of insanity. The origin of the widespread idea, to which I have referred, is not difficult to trace. When the brain, which is the organ of the mind, is in a diseased state, all subjects that come under contemplation are presented in a distorted or topsy-turvy aspect. It is therefore not surprising that religion, which appeals so powerfully to the intellectual and emotional part of man's nature, should sometimes be viewed by the insane with feelings of gloom or terror, the reverse of those which it awakens when the mental faculties are in their normal condition. The morose or depressing views which some patients take of religion are, I believe, in the vast majority of cases, the result and not the cause of their insanity.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.