Anastasia Scrutton
University of Leeds
Some recent considerations of religion and psychiatry have drawn a distinction between pathological and spiritual/mystical experiences of mental phenomena typically regarded as within the realm of psychiatry (e.g. depression, hearing voices, seeing visions/hallucinations). Such a distinction has clinical implications, particularly in relation to whether some religious people who suffer from depression, hear voices, or see visions should be biomedically treated. Approaching this question from a theological and philosophical perspective, I draw a distinction between (what I call) ‘spiritual health’ (SH) and ‘potentially transformative’ (PT) theologies, arguing that a PT model is therapeutically and philosophically more sound than a SH one. I then apply this to the clinical debate in critical dialogue with Dein and Durà-Vilà’s 2009 article, ‘The Dark Night of the Soul: spiritual distress and psychiatric implications’. My primary focus is on depression, though the discussion is also relevant to debates about psychosis and schizophrenia.
Keywords suffering  mystics  mental illness  Dark Night of the Soul
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