Spirituality in Psychiatry Practice

By Thatikonda, Padma | Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, March-April 2019 | Go to article overview

Spirituality in Psychiatry Practice


Thatikonda, Padma, Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine


Byline: Padma. Thatikonda

Presidential Address delivered at the 50th annual conference of Indian Psychiatric Society South Zonal Branch on 28th October 2017 at Vythiree Village, Waynad, Kerala

Dear esteemed members, brothers and sisters, and ladies and gentlemen,

It's indeed a long-cherished dream, now realized, to be the president of our association.

At the outset, I wholeheartedly thank you for reposing confidence in me and for electing me to this coveted position, to serve the association. Luckily, it turned out to be the golden jubilee year.

Many great thinkers, teachers, wise men, and stalwarts of Indian Psychiatric community had served as Presidents of our association. I promise to serve to the best of my abilities to take it to further heights. The journal, Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine , is abstracted and indexed in EBSCO databases, Expanded Academic ASAP, Indian Science Abstracts, ProQuest, Pubmed Central and Scopus, and actively competing with the national journal. All the past distinguished editors and the present editor Dr. M.S. Reddy had played a big role in accomplishing this great task with such distinction and I wish the future editors would follow their advice and the great tradition.

I started my career in psychiatry, way back in 1979 out of my passion and personal choice rather than by compulsion. Indeed, I am indebted to Prof. N.V. Ramana Rao for his guidance and advice in molding me to be a Psychiatrist and a teacher. I consider him as my first Guru and mentor and thank him from this platform and acknowledge the same as his proud student. He was also instrumental in shaping the careers of many eminent contemporary Psychiatrists in Andhra Pradesh. My namaskarams to him.

On this occasion, I submit that I am born and brought up in the holy city of Tirupati till I left for my postgraduation in 1979 and came back to Tirupati to serve my alma mater from 1985 again till today. It is very apt that hailing from the spiritual capital of Andhra Pradesh, I will talk about Spirituality in Psychiatric practice. This is one of the topics which is neither properly taught nor learnt in PG training in India. Rather one is taught not to be very involved about the religion and spirituality in patients' treatment.

Though the WHO defines health as physical, psychological, and social well-being and not merely the absence of infirmity, the spiritual dimension is always stressed as another dimension. There is no equivalent secular term for Spirituality. It can be different from Religion and has nothing to do with Religiosity. It is more abstract than the common understanding one has about the religion.

Spirituality is the individual way of understanding the nature and relate oneself to it and transcendent with the cosmos including everything in existence. The identity of whom I am and what I am is the essence of Spirituality. This is commonly achieved by many forms from religious beliefs and practices, but not always so. An atheist will also have a spiritual dimension.

From Carl Sagan to Neil De gasse Tyson to Stephen Fleming, those who did not believe in the existence of God had been quick to point out, we are part of a bigger cosmic phenomenon and star dust. This star dust spreads all over the universe and one's ability to relate to it to get a sense of belongedness and meaning to life is Spirituality.

One's Spirituality such as physical matter cannot be measured but is dependent on the culture, religion, and inner experiences and the relations that is developed over a period of time, to be part of this creation. It gives meaning to the life and decides the purpose of life. In the practice of Psychiatry over a period, one will start understanding how important it is to understand and accept patients' spiritual reserves as it counts both in analyzing and managing the psychological symptoms of any Psychiatric ailment. …

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