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Psychiatry in scripture: sacred texts and psychopathology

  • Christopher C. H. Cook (a1)
Summary

The engagement of psychiatry with religion is increasingly important for better understanding of the ways in which religious people find resources to cope with mental disorder. An example of how a more critical and constructive engagement might be achieved is found in the psychiatric literature on sacred texts. Articles which engage with the alleged psychopathology of the 6th-century BC Hebrew prophet Ezekiel are examined as an example of this and proposals are made for a more critical yet sensitive and constructive future debate.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Christopher C. H. Cook (c.c.h.cook@durham.ac.uk)
Footnotes
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a

Quoted English translations of Ezekiel are all from the Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version Bible, 1989.

Declaration of interest

C.C.H.C. is Chair of the Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group (SPSIG) at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The views expressed in this article are his own. The SPSIG does not adopt any particular position in relation to the matters debated in this article, but welcomes open debate about this and other matters related to spirituality and psychiatry, both in publication and at its meetings. C.C.H.C. is an Anglican priest, and is Director of the Project for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Durham University.

Footnotes
References
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1 Cook, CCH, Powell, A, Sims, A, Eagger, S. Spirituality and secularity: professional boundaries in psychiatry. Ment Health Relig Cult 2011; 14: 3542.
2 Cook, C, Powell, A, Sims, A (eds). Spirituality and Psychiatry. RCPsych Publications, 2009.
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11 Stein, G. Psalm 38: A man with major depression. Br J Psychiatry 2010; 196: 309.
12 Stein, G. Did the author of Psalm 30 have cyclothymia or bipolar disorder? Br J Psychiatry 2009; 195: 550.
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16 Stein, G. The voices that Ezekiel hears. Br J Psychiatry 2010; 196: 101.
17 Foote-Smith, E, Bayne, L. Joan of Arc. Epilepsia 1991; 32: 810–5.
18 Schweitzer, A. The Psychiatric Study of Jesus: Exposition and Criticism. Beacon, 1948.
19 Fales, E. Scientific explanations of mystical experiences. Part I: The case of St Teresa. Relig Studies 1996; 32: 143–63.
20 Landsborough, D. St Paul and temporal lobe epilepsy. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1987; 50: 659–64.
21 Cook, CCH. Psychiatry and mysticism. Ment Health Relig Cult 2003; 7: 149–63.
22 Lindblom, J. Prophecy in Ancient Israel. Blackwell, 1967.
23 Altschuler, EL. Did Ezekiel have temporal lobe epilepsy? Arch Gen Psychiatry 2002; 59: 561–2.
24 Kohn, RL. Ezekiel at the turn of the century. Currents Biblical Res 2003; 2: 931.
25 Joyce, PM. Ezekiel: A Commentary. Continuum, 2009.
26 Allen, LC (eds Hubbard, DA, Barker, GW, Watts, JDW). Ezekiel 20–48. Word Books, 1990.
27 Zimmerli, W (eds Cross, FM, Baltzer, K, Greenspoon, LJ). Ezekiel. Fortress Press, 1979.
28 Allen, LC (eds Hubbard, DA, Barker, GW, Watts, JDW). Ezekiel 1–19. Thomas Nelson, 1994.
29 Zimmerli, W (eds Hanson, PD, Greenspoon, LJ). Ezekiel. Fortress Press, 1983.
30 Greenberg, M (ed Albright, WF). Ezekiel 1–20. Doubleday, 1983.
31 Dein, S, Littlewood, R. The voice of God. Anthropol Med 2007; 14: 213–28.
32 Davis, EF (ed Gunn, DM). Swallowing the scroll: textuality and the dynamics of discourse in Ezekiel's Prophecy. Almond Press, 1989.
33 Halperin, DJ. Seeking Ezekiel: Text and Psychology. Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993.
34 Broome, EC. Ezekiel's abnormal personality. J Biblical Lit 1946; 65: 277–92.
35 Howie, CG (ed Marcus, R). The Date and Composition of Ezekiel. Society of Biblical Literature, 1950.
36 Cassem, NH. Ezekiel's psychotic personality: reservations on the use of the couch for biblical personalities. In The Word in the World: Essays in Honor of Frederick L Moriarty (eds Clifford, RJ, MacRae, GW): 5970. Weston College Press, 1973.
37 Bowen, NR. Ezekiel. Abingdon, 2010.
38 Smith-Christopher, DL. Ezekiel on Fanon's couch: a postcolonialist dialogue with David Halperin's Seeking Ezekiel . In Peace and Justice Shall Embrace: Power and Theopolitics in the Bible (eds Grimsrud, T, Johns, LL): 108–44. Pandora Press, 1999.
39 Bron, B. Psychopathology and proclamation of the prophet Ezekiel: the phenomenon of prophetic ecstasy [in German]. Schweitz Arch Neurol Neurochir Psychiatr 1981; 128: 2131.
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42 Cook, CCH. The faith of the psychiatrist. Ment Health Relig Cult 2011; 14: 917.
43 Hines, HW. The prophet as mystic. Am J Semitic Lang Lit 1923; 40: 3771.
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BJPsych Bulletin
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Psychiatry in scripture: sacred texts and psychopathology

  • Christopher C. H. Cook (a1)
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