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Title: "In the fellowship of His suffering" : a theological interpretation of mental illness, a focus on "Schizophrenia"
Author: Hessamfer, Elahe
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2013
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Abstract:
The ubiquity of mental illness and its exponential growth in the US has made it the primary “medical disability” of our time. This pervasiveness and the destructive force behind it to destroy human spirit demands an urgent attention not only from medical community, and social policy makers, but also from the church. In the history of Christian communities, mental illness has tended to be viewed as some form of malignant manifestation that stands against the will and rule of God. It has thus tended to evoke a response from within the church. Today, for the most part, that response has been delegated to the medical profession and the state. The issue of mental illness has invited many debates in the current philosophical and scientific realms. In this thesis I will present a historical analysis which outlines something of the roots of how we have come to frame mental illness in contemporary America. The twentieth century saw an astronomical rise in the popularity of the biological sciences as explanatory frameworks for everything related to human beings. Psychiatry has attempted to develop a scientific context to capitalize on that success and create a framework for how we view and name those experiences that make up the criteria “mental illness.” We will evaluate those attempts and seek to explore the challenges of modern psychiatry in normalizing human behavior based on scientific theories. The intention of this study is to determine whether the church could or should intervene in such encounters, and if so, what such an intervention might look like. Mental anguish can cripple individuals in variety of ways. Among all manifestations of distress, anxiety, fear, and mental confusion, nothing can be more destructive than what psychiatry has called “schizophrenia.” This has been the most elusive, cruel, and puzzling “mental disorder” of all times, leading to prolonged disability and inten Mental anguish can cripple individuals in variety of ways. Among all manifestations of distress, anxiety, fear, and mental confusion, nothing can be more destructive than what psychiatry has called “schizophrenia.” This has been the most elusive, cruel, and puzzling “mental disorder” of all times, leading to prolonged disability and intense personal suffering. Furthermore, it attacks the core of a person’s consciousness, sense of identity, humanity and ability to relate to others and to God. This thesis proposes a biblically based Christian framework for interpreting the phenomenon of “schizophrenia” through a theological reflection on the experience quite apart from what psychiatry may or may not have to say. It will be argued that not only is “schizophrenia” not pathological, but rather it touches on the most fundamental fragilities of the human soul—hence, it is a very critical pastoral issue. We will argue that madness ought to be recognized as a phenomenon, both theological and teleological, with a deep prophetic voice, exposing our state of sinfulness, calling the church into repentance. Given that, we will explore how the church ought to encounter it effectively and faithfully.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.582707  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Mental illness
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