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Psychiatry, religion and spirituality: a way forward

  • Rob Poole (a1) and Robert Higgo (a2)
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Abstract
Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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1 Cook, CCH, Dein, S, Powell, A, Eagger, S. Research in spirituality and mental health. Psychiatrist 2010; 34: 304.
2 Koenig, HG. Handbook of Religion and Mental Health. Academic Press, 1998.
3 Sloan, RP. Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine. St Martin's Griffin, 2008.
4 Sloan, R, Bagiella, E, Powell, T. Religion, spirituality and medicine. Lancet 1999; 353: 664–7.
5 Poole, R, Higgo, R. Spirituality and the threat to therapeutic boundaries in psychiatric practice. Ment Health Relig Cult 2010, in press.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 1758-3209
  • EISSN: 1758-3217
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Psychiatry, religion and spirituality: a way forward

  • Rob Poole (a1) and Robert Higgo (a2)
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eLetters

Proposed college working party on psychiatry and religion.

John Cox, Professor emeritus
22 December 2010

The establishing of a College working party to consider the boundaries of psychiatry and religion as suggested by Poole and Higgo (1) is indeed a pragmatic, constructive and, in our view, long overdue proposal.

It was in 1991 that our Patron first reminded the College that therapy involved body, mind and spirit. In that same year Dinesh Bhugra organised a meeting at the Institute of Psychiatry at which Bill Fulford (2) cogently urged delegates to explore the limits of tolerance at the boundaries of psychiatric practice and religious belief.

Can our President please, in his last year of office, establish a working party to consider these matters which could consult widely and make recommendations relevant to the core clinical, research and educational objectives of the College.

The Working Party will require the arms length approach of transcultural psychiatry as well as a broad multi- faith perspective and astute leadership, fully sensitive to the concerns of religious and secular psychiatrists as well as service users and other health professionals.

If the World Psychiatric Association can be approaching an international consensus on this subject (3) then surely our College can usefully now give a lead in Europe where these matters are particularly pressing.

John Cox Honorary Fellow. Past President .Co-chair, Centre for the Study of Faith, Science and Values in Health Care, University of Gloucestershire.

Alison Gray Liaison Psychiatrist. Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust. WholeCare Research Fellow and Research Associate, University of Birmingham School of Psychology.

Declaration of interest

John Cox is a Christian from the Methodist Tradition.Alison Gray was recently ordained Deacon in the Church of England

(1)Poole R, Higgo R Psychiatry ,Religion and Spirituality; a way forward.Psychiatrist.2010;34:452(2)Fulford K W M religion and psychiatry: extending the limits of tolerance. In Psychiatry and Religion; context, consensus and Controversies (ed Bhugra D) 1996 5-23 Routledge London.(3) Verhagen P; van Praag H M, Lopez-Ibor J J, Cox J L, Moussaoui D.(eds) Religion and Psychiatry: beyond boundaries 2010 Wiley Blackwell. Chichester.
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Conflict of interest: None Declared

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It 's time to embrace the new paradigm

Larry Culliford, Retired Psychiatrist and Author
08 November 2010

I have already responded at length (ref 1) to the 2010 paper (ref 2),mentioned by authors Rob Poole and Robert Higgo (ref 3), and will confine myself here to a few brief comments.

Poole and Higgo appear to object to references to spirituality in mental health care partly through equating spirituality firmly with religious beliefs. This is a limited interpretation and false representation of the principles involved.

It seems to show that they are missing an important point, that a Copernican revolution has now taken place in psychology with the emergenceand development of a new 'psycho-spiritual' paradigm (ref 4)that does not invalidate the previously prevailing secular scientific paradigm that theychampion so earnestly, but supercedes it, just as Einstein and quantum physics surpassed Newton.

The debate may continue, and I have no objection to 'a carefully composed and well-chaired working group' being set up within the Royal College, but would see this as a sideshow. College Members will be mature enough to think things through independently and make up their own minds on the matter.

The genius is already out of the bottle. That's irrevocable. I recommend politely that it's time for all to catch up and move on. Please don't be shy! Exciting benefits beckon, for patients and professionals alike.

References:

1. Culliford L. Beware! Paradigm shift under way. 'Mental Health, Religion and Culture' 2010, in press.

2. Poole R, Higgo, R. Spirituality and the threat to therapeutic boundaries in psychiatric practice. 'Mental Health, Religion and Culture' 2010, in press.

3. Poole R, Higgo, R. Psychiatry, religion and spirituality: a way forward. 'The Psychiatrist' 2010, 34: 452-453.

4. Culliford L. 'The psychology of spirituality: an introduction'. London, Jessica Kingsley, 2010.

Declaration of interest: Larry Culliford refers to himself as an ecumenical or ‘universalist’ Christian to indicate openness to the teachings and practices of other world religions, respect for their spiritual truths, satisfaction from visits to their places of pilgrimage and worship, and feelings of great kinship with true devotees of different faiths.
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Conflict of interest: None Declared

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