Psychiatric illness is common to all mankind regardless of race, creed, or color. It is estimated that over half the patients who enter doctors’ offices in the United States present some symptoms of psychosomatic, psychoneurotic, personality, and other emotional disturbances. The most severe form of mental disorder, the psychosis, has a much lower incidence, and its treatment almost invariably consists of extended hospital care. The incidence of psychiatric illness in professional people is less than the overall average, probably owing to the elimination of emotionally unstable individuals during the many years of vocational preparation. It is worthwhile to consider how and to what extent the Church can help to prevent and alleviate psychiatric illness in members of the clergy, and what relation the Church has to Christian psychotherapy.
The Minister And Psychiatric Illness
The ministry differs from other professions in that it concerns itself with the spiritual nature of man. The minister himself is usually looked up to as the paragon of faith and virtue. He is the stalwart among his parishioners in time of trouble and is not expected to falter in his strength and comfort to others. Consequently, when psychiatric illness afflicts him it is attributed to some external cause such as overwork, an obscure physical ailment, or family frictions. Although these factors may act as precipitating agents, hardly ever are they causative agents.
Almost without exception psychiatric illness arises from unresolved intrapsychic conflicts. The symptoms of depletion, discouragement, bitterness, frustration, uncontrolled anger, and depression are a culmination of distortions within the psychical processes of sensing, feeling, thinking, and believing. ...1
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