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Resource Document on Ethics at the Interface of Religion, Spirituality, and Psychiatric Practice

Approved by the Joint Reference Committee, April 2021

  • 2021

Prepared by the APA Council on Children, Adolescents, and Their Families

Historically, psychiatry has had a fraught 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, drawing parallels between the rituals of obsessional patients and those of very religious people (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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