Two Christian Theologies of Depression

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Some recent considerations of religion and psychiatry have drawn a distinction between pathological and spiritual/mystical experiences of mental phenomena typically regarded as within the realm of psychiatry (e.g. depression, hearing voices, seeing visions/hallucinations). Such a distinction has clinical implications, particularly in relation to whether some religious people who suffer from depression, hear voices, or see visions should be biomedically treated. Approaching this question from a theological and philosophical perspective, I draw a distinction between (what I call) ‘spiritual health’ (SH) and ‘potentially transformative’ (PT) theologies, arguing that a PT model is therapeutically and philosophically more sound than a SH one. I then apply this to the clinical debate in critical dialogue with Dein and Durà-Vilà’s 2009 article, ‘The Dark Night of the Soul: spiritual distress and psychiatric implications’. My primary focus is on depression, though the discussion is also relevant to debates about psychosis and schizophrenia.
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Archival date: 2015-11-21
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