Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Perspective

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Perspective

Article excerpt

Faith-based interventions are interesting phenomena that are strongly related to what has been operationally defined as "flourishing"--a state of mental health in which people are filled with high levels of emotional, psychological, and social well-being. A major part of flourishing is the gift of clearly understanding one's true purpose in life--an internal compass--which is highly spiritual.

Another aspect of faith-based interventions is that they cultivate a strong internal sense of what Western religions call a "soul," or what Eastern religions call an "atman" or "true self." This is a very individual, esoteric aspect of life that is typically not well embraced by Western psychiatry, thanks in part to Freud's critical writings on the issue of spirituality.

Because spirituality is individual, however, and cannot be objectively or externally measured, it is impossible to verify or compare spiritual phenomena, which is uncomfortable for researchers and practicing clinicians for whom evidence-based practices are the Holy Grail. As a result, Western-trained psychiatrists are taught to avoid issues of spirituality, as they are fraught with dangers, including the difficulty of proving that faith-based interventions work. …

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