The Great Divide – Psychology and Spirituality (Part 2 of 2)

In the past, psychologists, and particularly psychiatrists, looked on the human psyche as something to be objectively and ‘scientifically’ studied using the tools of reason and rationality.  Medical doctors focused on the body and not even on the whole body, just the part that was broken or diseased.  Priests focused on the immortal soul and New Agers took the collection of functions Freud called the ego and made it the enemy of spirit. 

Fortunately that divide is being bridged.  Doctors now ask about their patients’ stress levels and living situations.  Psychiatrists such as Gerald May pioneered the inclusion of spirituality into the treatment of people with mental illness and addictions.  New Agers are gradually recognizing the importance of rationality and soon they may even stop seeing the ego as an enemy to be obliterated. 

In time maybe we will all recognize that we are all a wonderful scramble of everything, a magnificently blended, if not always fully functioning, whole with no dividing lines where everything belongs and everything has a purpose.

That said, let’s start exploring the role our psychology plays in our spirituality.

Everyone has something to teach.   Share your wisdom – make a comment.

6 replies
  1. Larry
    Larry says:

    I agree that a more holistic approach to people is evolving but I wonder should we not be looking at a more holistic approach to the holistic approach itself? They all do their bit, but there’s no integration. Any ideas?

  2. Anna
    Anna says:

    I think people are coming together more and more. I go to a counsellor and she had me doing breathing last week. That’s integration isn’t it?

    • Tommy Kameda
      Tommy Kameda says:

      @ anna. but integration of what? People throw out worrs like that and most or the time they mean nothing. I went to a councilor once too and I didn’t integrate. SHe didn’t do me with breating so was she wrong in not doink that? and if people are coming toghtether more and more then why are we always haveing wars and stuff likethat? Anyway, I do breathihg all the time.

      • Catherine
        Catherine says:

        Hi Tommy,
        Thanks for your comment. You ask some really good questions. I don’t think the world is any more at peace now than it ever was. We still have wars and the older I get the more I think we always will. The integration I was talking about in that post was between spirituality and psychology. We all have body, mind and spirit. In the past psychiatrists, for example, would take a ‘scientific’ approach to emotional pain and prescribe medication. And leave it at that. But now, mental health professionals are recognising that we are all complicated people with many different aspects to us. So medication can help but often it’s not enough. Psychiatrists, counsellors, psychologists, breathworkers, priests, new age therapists – they’re all beginning to realize that sticking strictly to one approach is not always best for their clients. They’re recognising that depression, for example, is not necessarily just a chemical problem in the body but may result from lots of other things, including a sense spiritual despair. And the exclusively spiritual based therapist may recognise that depression could be a reaction to poverty, stress or other life circumstances. The techniques they use are not that important so much as being open and aware that mind, body and spirit need attention. Then they use the technique that suits the client.

        Yes, I agree people throw out words that are only vaguely defined. I am considering putting a definitions page on my blog. Thank you for prompting that idea. I’m sorry that your experience with a counsellor didn’t seem to work out that well. Did you go to her once, or more than once?

  3. Larry
    Larry says:

    Yeah, one counsellor out of how many. I was with a psychiatrist and all he did was put me on pills. I know lots of people like that. And then the alternative therapists tell you not to go near doctors. They claim to be holistics and the doctors claim to be right.

  4. ol
    ol says:

    hi Catherine
    enjoyed your post! I think all of what you are saying is important. Just have one further addition, going to a psychotherapist is about relationship. In todays isolated world people no longer have real connection with people in the way that existed 50 or more years ago. I know all thats happened in relation to peoples attitudes to religion and why, but the loss of it and of the smaller worlds without 24hr hour rolling news has created a vaccume that the mental health profession have been called to fill. It’s all about relationship. Its not about techniques, significant research has shown that the client/psychotherapist (or other mental health Professional) relationship is far and away more important than any training program. So, what it all comes down to, I believe, is someone who acknowledges my existance and my pain and supports me to explore my existance. Someone who is really present while I try to understand where I came from, why I am here and where I am going .

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