THERAPY THOUGHTS

Faith Matters

Faith in God or science or yourself strengthens.   Freud’s Totem and Taboo carefully dissected religious and faith healing and pronounced both  bunk.   Jerome Frank’s Persuasion and Healing placed both back on a par with more scentitific healing as does this article.  Missing however, is the a discussion of the use of faith to oppress or impose harm on another.  See if you agree with me.

Iraq Encounter – Watching a Faith Healer at Work – NYTimes.com.

The article discusses what is now called conversion reaction, such reactions are s often cured by faith healers.  A conversion reaction is the bodies effort to deal with sometime that horrifies the mind,  in this case a women’s arranged marriage.  In Freud’s day it was called hysteria.  Freud initially thought it was the result of sexual abuse by fathers, uncles, brothers or others.  When he presented those findings to his scientific colleagues, they scoffed, and so, Freud changed his mind and accused the women of fantasying the abuse unconsciously.  He needed to do a reality check as does the psychiatrist reporting on the powers of the Iraq faith healer.

Staying Strong and Caring Tip for therapists: Honor your patient or clients faith in faith, but not if that faith leads to harmful practices.  One dear friend of mine was once a nun.  She whipped herself repeatedly to expunge herself of sin.  The sin her sexual feelings made sinful only when an uncle repeatedly abused her tormented her and her faith recommended self flagellation.  A good therapist eventually helped accept her sexuality and see the uncle as the person who needed punishment.

Staying Strong and Caring Tip for those seeking mental health help: Do a reality check.  Think trauma that involved ongoing fear or pain or shame, think physical disorders, think brain chemistry disorder, think addiction. Make sure the therapist you select also thinks of those possibilities.  I was sent to a psychiatrist because my medical doctor could not find a cause for my ongoing fatigue and irritable power.  I chose a good psychiatrist and he suggested some tests that revealed a physical disorder.  A student of mine who suddenly started having pain on intercourse was told by a supervisor to seek analysis, she undoubtedly had unconscious desire to avoid sex.  I sent her to a good gynecologist;  he cured her  without years of analysis.  She was and remains some forty years later one of the healthiest people I know.

I suspect in the case described by the author of this article, cure might have come by cancelling the marriage, possibly not, but her fears about what was coming needed honoring.

Faith matters but so does scientific knowledge; both need  honoring and neither should overlook reality factors.

Agree or disagree, comments are always welcomed.

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