Psychiatry and Spirituality

International research has shown that religious/spiritual psychiatric patients employ religion/spirituality as a coping resource, and that this can be a source of both mental health and neurosis. However, more research is needed to understand how psychiatrists interact with mental health inpatients in everyday clinical practice, when the topic is of a religious/spiritual nature, to gain knowledge of how the resources that, for some patients, lie in religion/spirituality can be supported.

Nissen, R. D., Gildberg, F. A. & Hvidt, N. C. 2018. Psychiatry, a Secular Discipline in a Postsecular World? A Review . In : Religions. Research 9 (1), 32 doi:10.3390/rel9010032 .: Article, peer review. Status: Published!

Postsecular theory is developing in academic circles, including the psychiatric field. By asking what the postsecular perspective might imply for the secular discipline of psychiatry, the aim of this study was to examine the postsecular perspective in relation to the secular nature of psychiatry, by way of a narrative review. In a systematic search for literature, relevant articles were identified and analyzed thematically. Thirteen articles were included, and three intertextual themes were identified, which represented ongoing international dialogues in relation to psychiatry and religion—such as intervention, integration, identity, the religious or irreligious psychiatrist, and the multicultural setting of the discipline. Furthermore, the postsecular perspective reveals a (potential) bias against the religious worldviews inherent in the secular. Postsecular theory can contribute to the ongoing discussions of how psychiatry, as a secular discipline, approaches the religious in the lives of patients and psychiatrists.

PhD-project: Psychiatry, Religion, and Spirituality: A study on how psychiatrists approach religious/spiritual topics in Danish psychiatric clinical practice. (From 1.May. 2016 to 1.May. 2019)

PhD-Student & project responsible: Ricko Damberg Nissen, Ph.d.-student, Cand. Mag. Religionsvidenskab & Antropologi Forskningsenheden for Almen Praksis, Institut for Sundhedstjenesteforskning, Det Sundheds-videnskabelige Fakultet, Syddansk Universitet.
Head Supervisor: Niels Christian Hvidt, Lektor, Cand.Theol, Theol.Dr. Forskningsenheden for Almen Praksis, Institut for Sundhedstjenesteforskning, Det Sundheds-videnskabelige Fakultet, Syddansk Universitet
Supervisor: Frederik A.Gildberg, Ph.d., Professor (Associate) & Head of Research, Lecturer in Forensic Mental Health, PhD, MScN, RN. CPS, Institute of Regional Health Research, Faculty of Health Science, University of Southern Denmark. Lecturer & Head of Research, Dept. of Psychiatry Middelfart, Region of Southern Denmark.

English Abstract

International research has shown that religious/spiritual psychiatric patients employ religion/spirituality as a coping resource, and that this can be a source of both mental health and neurosis. However, more research is needed to understand how psychiatrists interact with mental health inpatients in everyday clinical practice, when the topic is of a religious/spiritual nature, to gain knowledge of how the resources that, for some patients, lie in religion/spirituality can be supported.
The aim of this study is to generate knowledge of how psychiatrists in Danish psychiatric clinical practice approach religious/spiritual topics, how and to what degree they integrate their patients’ religious/spiritual life in the treatment, and how the personal religious/spiritual characteristics of the psychiatrists impact their approach to patients.
The study will employ a qualitative and ethnographic research approach, based in the methodology of symbolic interactionism The design of the study runs through 3 phases with an estimated number of interviews = 40.
Based on the literature review and the research questions four articles will be published.
The study is among the first in the Danish context, and will contribute to national and international research and literature on how the psychiatrists in a secular society approach topics of a religious/spiritual nature.