Towards a theological understanding of the psychopathology and the therapy

  1. Lemma
  2. Πρός μία θεολογική κατανόηση τῆς ψυχοπαθολογίας καί τῆς θεραπείας
  3. Greek, Modern (1453-)
  4. Delli, Eudoxie
  5. Scientific theories and disciplines > Psychology-Psychoanalysis - Orthodox Anthropology - Modes of interaction - Orthodox theological tradition and practice > Patristic studies
  6. 29-1-2017
  7. Τhermos, (Protopresbyter) Vasileios [Author]. Towards a theological understanding of the psychopathology and the therapy
  8. Theology and Psychiatry in Dialogue. Conference Proceedings - Athens: Apostoliki Diakonia, 1999.
  9. terms and concepts of Soul - soul-body - Eccles, (Sir) John - Winnicott, Donald Woods - trauma - conceptions of the Self - Klein, Melanie - Staniloae, Dumitru - Giannaras, Christos - Maximus the Confessor - Palamas, Gregory - St. John of Damascus - Cappadocian Fathers
    1. <p>Θερμός, (Πρωτοπρεσβύτερος) Β. (1999). Πρός μία θεολογική κατανόηση τῆς ψυχοπαθολογίας καί τῆς θεραπείας. In  Ά. Αύγουστίδης, Β. Θερμός, Δ. Κυριαζῆς ( Eds.),<em> Θεολογία καί Ψυχιατρική σέ διάλογο. Πρακτικά Ἠμερίδας</em>, (pp. 96-132)<em>.</em> Άθήνα: Άποστολική Διακονία.</p>
    1. According to Fr Vasileios Thermos, the term “psycho”, found in a lot of scientific words, leads many people to a confusion. By his article, the author aims to distinguish the spiritual recovery and renaissance achieved in the Church from the technical aid offered by psychology and psychiatry.

      In doing that, a reconceptualization of ‘’psycho’’ as used by the mental health professionals is necessary. The Greek Fathers of the 4th century distinguished between ‘’essence’’ (oύσία) or ‘’nature’’ (φύσις) and ‘’energies’’ (ένέργειαι). The latter derive from the two former and include all the human functions which today are called ‘’bodily’’ or ‘’psychical’’. Following those Fathers, the essence or nature of man is mixed, made of soul and body and all energies spring out of this one mixed essence, both bodily and psychical ones (mind, memory, fantasy, emotions, will etc.). The difference in only phenomenological, not essential. Ontologically they are of the same kind and order.

      Accidents of birth, diseases, life events, traumatic or neglect experiences and other causes may result to a relative autonomy of one (or more) psychical functions which leads to psychopathology. All the available modes of treatment (medication, psychotherapy, group or family therapy) aim to reduce this autonomy and restore the whole psychic apparatus into harmony. All these deal with the psychical energies only and not with the core of Man, the essence of the soul which is ill because of the sin and needs another kind of therapy, the spiritual one.

      Maximus the Confessor distinguishes between the sin dealing with our will and the results of the sin on the human nature; results including decay, diseases, death. The latter refer to the damage of the ‘’natural will’’ traced in the character traits. Psychopathology of character and mental disorders cannot be attributed only to the content of the will, that is, to the piety of the intention. This is the reason why spiritual life is unable to treat itself mental diseases and severe character traits.

      These problems are almost always complex and for a plenty of cases an additional help is necessary, sometimes in the form of psychotherapy. A contrast against this, in the name of spirituality or in favour of medication only, may cover heretical opinions about human structure and function. Additional attention is needed by the professionals too who often treat energies without believing in the existence of an essence beyond them; this is usually the reason why they sometimes reject the spiritual life of the patient.

      All topics mentioned above are examined in a perspective of encounter and confrontation between the theological terminology, especially the ontological one, and the clinical psychopathology, because the crossing of the vocabularies is considered fundamental by the author. Emphasis is given on the complexity of human behaviour, consisted of free will and of defects of its freedom so that room is left for the mystery of human being which resists any ‘’mechanical interpretation’’.