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Resource Document on The Interface of Religion, Spirituality, and Psychiatric Practice

Approved by the Joint Reference Committee, October 2020

  • 2020

Psychiatry has historically been known to have an adversarial relationship with religion. One example can be found in the writings of Sigmund Freud, who was dismissive of religion and viewed it as a form of mental illness. Freud drew parallels between the rituals of obsessional patients and those of very religious people and concluded that religion was a universal obsessional neurosis (Breakey 2001). However, there are also works throughout history demonstrating the harmonious relationship between psychiatry and religion, suggesting that the notion of an adversarial relationship between the two may not be a complete picture (Frankl 1975, Meissner 1984, Meissner 1987).

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