Frontiers Of Psychiatry And Religion

Soul and Psyche, by Victor White (Harper, 1960, 312 pp., $5), is reviewed by Orville S. Walters, Director, Health Services, University of Illinois.

The splitting of man into soul and psyche is an artificial and untenable division. If man’s soul is assigned to the clergyman and his psyche to the psychiatrist, then each would have to surrender any claim to deal with the whole man and with the process of personality integration. The psychiatrist is, in fact, unable to exclude areas of the soul from his concern, and the religionist likewise cannot exclude what belongs to the psyche. The living organism is the common ground of both psychology and religion.

With these premises, Victor White launches his “Enquiry into the Relationship of Psychiatry and Religion.” A member of the Dominican order, White is professor of theology at Blackfriars, Oxford University, and is author of God and the Unconscious.

Since man is essentially a unity, the object of God’s dealing is the whole man. In the New Testament, the Greek word psyche is the equivalent of life in its entirety. The theologian cannot allow that any sector of life, conscious or unconscious, lies outside this psyche with which he is concerned (p. 23). In so clarifying the scope of the psyche, White corrects even some well-known psychiatrists of his own faith.

Once this segmentation of personality is disallowed, the psychotherapist finds himself in a predicament. The moral and metaphysical questions so important to his troubled patient are insoluble by the methods of empirical science. If he claims, as did Freud, that what is not empirically verifiable by science is not knowable, he makes an assertion that itself is not capable of such proof, but ...

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