0
Get Alert
Please Wait... Processing your request... Please Wait.
You must sign in to sign-up for alerts.

Please confirm that your email address is correct, so you can successfully receive this alert.

1
Book Forum: Religion and Ethics   |    
Spirituality, Ethics, and Relationships in Adulthood: Clinical and Theoretical Explorations
ARMANDO R. FAVAZZA, M.D., M.P.H.
Am J Psychiatry 2001;158:980-981. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.158.6.980
View Author and Article Information
Columbia, Mo.

Edited by Melvin E. Miller and Alan A. West. Springfield, Ill., Charles C Thomas, 2000, 260 pp., $62.50.

I ask you, dear colleagues, to answer me true. Have you been pondering V code 62.89 (religion or spiritual problems) and about how life should be lived? Have you been preparing for a spiritual quest to facilitate your participation in the dance of living? Do you yearn to be set free by the truth that flows from an intimate relationship with the universe? Are you eager to accept the higher consciousness that comes with egolessness? Are you sensitive enough to recognize the Divine Feminine Goddess in every woman? Do you seek experiences that go beyond human knowing but are nevertheless known by humans? Are you at long last ready to examine how the fourth century Cappadocian Fathers’ understanding of the Trinity may lead you to attain a fifth-order consciousness? If these questions excite you, then you absolutely need to read Spirituality, Ethics, and Relationships in Adulthood.

This edited book of essays written by social scientists in psychology, sociology, and religious studies starts with the premise that ours is an age of uncertainty and fragmentation. As noted by Kegan in his marvelously titled tome, we are In Over Our Heads(1) because of the high level of abstraction needed to cope with postmodern life. Thus, according to the book’s introduction,

We find both men and women expressing a need for autonomy, individualism, actualization, and relationship (interpersonal and connectedness). Both men and women have needs for close friendship, intimate dialogue, and interpersonal connectedness. (p. 3)

Sounds right to me, although I expect that people have had pretty much the same needs since we first came down from the trees.

Several chapters clarify that it is difficult to become a "maker of meaning" when you are struggling just to survive and make do. Certainly for a large number of my patients, peak experiences and self-actualization would seem to come in the form of a good night’s sleep, the arrival of a disability check one day earlier than usual, or the disappearance of threatening voices. We all probably could profit from a good dose of self-actualization, but who has the time and the inclination? Truck drivers? Grocery store clerks? Accountants? Surgeons? Does a soccer mom become self-actualized when her daughter scores a winning goal? Does self-actualization occur if you score 300 when you’re bowling alone rather than in a league? When you boil it down, self-actualization seems to resonate most with some social scientists in psychology, sociology, and religious studies and, perhaps, with people who have a happy second marriage.

In a scientifically ascendant world, it really is difficult to get a grip on spirituality. Traditionally people have turned to formal religion for answers, but the world of St. Francis of Assisi is long gone, and the Fundamentalists who cling to Biblical inerrancy (the earth was created in 4004 B.C.and the sun revolves around it, etc.) are hardly credible. Easterners are turning to Christianity while Westerners are flirting with Buddhism. Muslims are caught up with politics, and nobody understands Hinduism. Secular spirituality is a big business and has gone ga-ga over pyramid power, channeling, quartz crystals, herbs, personal trainers, chi, redwoods, and Tiger Woods.

At least the authors in the book under review make a serious attempt to ask and begin to answer important questions. It definitely is not a guide to how to live long and prosper, although the chapter on "Conversion and the Self" is enlightening. I was greatly relieved not to find in the book even one reference to guardian angels or chicken soup, but I was disappointed not to find even one original memorable epigram. The best I could come up with is an anecdote from the chapter "On Being Both the Center and the Circumference":

A certain brother came to the abbot Moses in Skete and said: "Father, give me a saving word." Abbot Moses told the brother: "Go to your cell, and your cell will teach you everything." (p. 267)

Biological psychiatrists should take some comfort from the abbot’s prescient words.

Kegan R: In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life. Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University Press, 1994
 
+

References

Kegan R: In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life. Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University Press, 1994
 
+
+

CME Activity

There is currently no quiz available for this resource. Please click here to go to the CME page to find another.
Submit a Comments
Please read the other comments before you post yours. Contributors must reveal any conflict of interest.
Comments are moderated and will appear on the site at the discertion of APA editorial staff.

* = Required Field
(if multiple authors, separate names by comma)
Example: John Doe



Related Content
Books
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 34.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 34.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 34.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 45.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 65.  >
Topic Collections
Psychiatric News
Read more at Psychiatric News >>
APA Guidelines
PubMed Articles
Nurse religiosity and spiritual care. J Adv Nurs Published online May 7, 2014.;