Religion and Issues in Psychiatry


  • Various Contributors


Salvation (salus, utis, (f) - health/deliverance) is a key term in Westem religious traditions; in Christianity, 'saving' is regarded essentially as a 'soul' matter. But what is the soul but the psyche/psukhe (f), the very Breath of existence? If salvation is the business of religion, what then is pyschiatry all about? Seemingly not about the restoration of Breath itself; and several of our contributions to this issue of the REVIEW would come to the same conclusion about some official versions of 'religious' salvation. We have become very confused about this. Is a 'mental disorder' (as variously defined by those who are experts in mental 'order') a metaphor for sickness of soul? Or is 'sin' a mental disorder? The priests of soul and the priests of mind dispense their largesse in very different domains, and well might we ask what if anything, religion has to do with psychiatry in this late part of the century.

Our four contributors in their different ways approach the contradictions and connect the estranged kingdoms (churches?) by examing one or other of the aspects of myth. Each one makes a plea for action in terms of a paradigm - change of mind and understanding which requires us to wrestle anew with the meaning of Psyche, and the demons which extinguish her Breath and in so doing, deny us deliverance.