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September 27, 2006

Literature Review

I apologize for the dearth in posting for the last week.  I hope to have three posts up by the end of this week, two literature reviews and an entry into the Lexicon.  Today's review will collate articles from

J. of Religion and Health

J. of Legal Medicine

J. of Religion and Health, vol. 45, no. 3 (Sept. 2006):

Mutant Spiritualities in a Secular Age: The 'Fasting Body' and the Hunger for Pure Immanence

Jo Nash

Mental Health Section, School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield, Regent Court, 30 Regent Place, Sheffield, UK, S1 4DA

Abstract:  This article will explore the 'return of the repressed,' of secular materialism, in the form of 'mutant spiritualities,' with a particular focus on the significance of the fasting body, once an accepted product of ascetic spiritual practice, and now cultivated by those seeking a range of experiences; including the anorexic, the model or celebrity trading in beauty and elegance, and those in search of a new age spiritual enlightenment.  I argue that further exploration of the range of contexts in which the fasting body is cultivated reveal that what is desired is a lost experience of the body as an expanded field of energetic confluences, an assemblage of affects in the manner of Deleuze and Guattari's 'body without organs.'  Such an experience of the body is termed as expanded, light and even ecstatic by those following fasting regimes, in that it overcomes the experience of the body as 'heavy,' burdensome or limiting. The word ecstasy derives from the Greek 'ekstasis,' meaning to stand outside oneself. Through a textual analysis of web content of cyber communities dedicated to these food practices, I suggest that fasting expresses a hunger for 'self transcendence' as pure immanence, that is both subversive of secular materialism and limited by narcissistic pathology.

Dominance Hierarchies and Health: Constructing Personal Zones of Spiritual Power and Healing in Modern Medicine

Richard Hutch

Faculty of Arts, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, 4072, Australia

School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Abstract: Ethological studies of animals in groups and sociobiology indicate that hierarchies of dominance amongst some species ensure the survival of the group. When transferred to human groups, dominance hierarchies suggest a crucial role played by recasting the scope of such hierarchies of dominant and subordinate members to included "hyper-dominant beings."  A recognition of such beings as even more dominant than the socially dominant members of a hierarchy facilitates the empowerment of the socially subordinate members. Religious belief and practice works to establish such hyper-dominant beings ("gods," "goddesses," and so forth) as superior members of human groups. Doing so is a means of ensuring the survival of the species and, thus, enhancing healing and human health. The "doctor-patient" relationship is examined from such a point of view, with an emphasis on whether the hierarchy created by the relationship allows consideration of alternative and complementary forms of medical treatment.

Why Freud and Jung Can't Speak: A Neurological Proposal

Barbara Stevens Barnum

Abstract: This article provides a modern neurological explanation for the theoretical differences in psychoanalytic concepts and techniques between Freud and Jung. Specifically, the article contrasts their analytic skills as arising in the left and right brain, respectively. Modern neurological techniques reveal unique brain functions that explain many of the visionary and so-called mystic phenomena discussed by Jung. Many of his psychoanalytic concepts can be traced to right brain function. Modern research and philosophic analyses also provide light on Freud's research method and its limitations.

Religion and Madness

David Berman

Philosophy Department, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland


The question I try to answer in this paper is: How should we distinguish mad from sane religious belief? After looking at the clear-cut but opposed answers of Freud and Jung, I then examine the modern psychiatric answer, particularly as presented in the DSM IV.  After arguing that each of the three answers is unsatisfactory, I look at what I take to be the more promising approach of Con Drury, Wittgenstein's friend and biographer, in an essay called "Madness and Religion," where, drawing on the religious histories of Joan of Arc, George Fox and Tolstoy and three of his own psychiatric patients, Drury suggests that there is no objective yet ethical way to make the distinction.  This leads to my own answer, which is that the best we can do is to distinguish mad from neurotic religious belief; and hence that the safest position, although not the most comfortable, is the neurotic one.

Traumatic Stress and Religion: Is there a Relationship? A Review of Empirical Findings

Yung Y. Chen

Department of Behavioral Sciences Leadership, US Military Academy, West Point, New York 10996, USA

Harold G. Koenig

Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA


Based on a history of close conceptual link, empirical studies are beginning to accumulate that investigate the relationship between trauma and religion. A review of empirical studies that examined the relationship between religion/spirituality and PTSD showed mixed findings. Though the direction of association varied among studies, all but one study reported significant associations between the two.  Factors that might have contributed to the mixed findings are discussed (e.g., measurements, research design).  Overall, these results appear to be encouraging toward confirming the conceptual link between religion and trauma.  Further research investigating the direction of causation and possible moderators of the association may contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between trauma and religion.

Fruits of Health; Roots of Despair: William James, Medical Materialism and the Evaluation of Religious Experience

Tadd Ruetenik

Arts and Humanities, Penn State Altoona, Altoona, PA 16601, USA

Abstract: In The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James introduces the term "medical materialism" to describe the fallacious attempt by some scientists to argue against the value of spiritual ideas. Two literary case studies will be considered for purposes of better understanding James' idea. What's more, it will be shown that, in addition to James' three criteria for the appropriate evaluation of religious experience, there is another factor not made explicit, namely that of hopefulness. This factor serves to distinguish ordinary from pathological morbid-mindedness, the latter of which has no religious significance.

The Search for Non-Medical Treatment by Patients with Psychiatric Disorders

Ahmet Tevfik Sunter, Hatice Guz, Aysen Ozkan, and Yildiz Peksen

The Department of Public Health, The Faculty of Medicine, Ondokuz Mayis University, 55139 Samsun, Turkey

Department of Psychiatry, Ondokuz Mayis University, Samsun, Turkey

Abstract: Patients in Turkey frequently seek help from non-physicians such as hodjas and fortune-tellers. The aim of this study is to assess the prevalence, reasons for and results of the search for non-medical help by patients with psychiatric disorders. It was determined that 42.2% of patients consulted a hodja or a fortune-teller, and many (23.1%) were either the subject of prayers or else were advised to pray themselves as treatment. Considering that a significant number of patients seek non-medical treatment, it is thought that people should be informed about psychiatric disorders, therapies, and how to obtain them.

Polishing the Mirror: Mental Health from a Bahá'í Perspective

Michelle Maloney

Abstract: While various authors have explored multiple religious theories of mental health in an effort to become more responsive to clients' needs, there is a dearth of information on the Bahá'í conception of this important subject despite the faith’s growth across the world.  This article will present a Bahá'í perspective on mental health by examining the faith's basic tenets and teachings, its affinities and dissimilarities with various traditional psychotherapeutic theories, its views on psychological functioning, and its sources of healing.  Common therapeutic issues of Bahá'ís will also be explored to aid counselors in conceptualizing and treating these clients.

Why did Mary Shelley Write Frankenstein?

Anthony F. Badalamenti

Abstract: Mary Shelley's novel "Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus" is presented here as her encoded image of unconscious emotions too painful for her waking personality to deal with. Her innovative image of man-made life is taken as emerging from the confrontation of her hopes for secure love with painful events in her life with Percy Shelley. This paper proposes that her novel served as a waking expression of unconscious feelings of hurt in reaction to Percy. The monster's role is here decoded as her way to consciously process the idea that parts of her relation to Percy were so hurtful as to deform it into a miscreant. It is further proposed that the losses and frustrations of her earliest years inclined her to accept Percy's violations in the hope of the secure love she longed for. The answer offered to this paper's title accounts for why "Frankenstein"; is taken to refer to the unnamed monster and not its creator.

J. of Legal Medicine, Vol. 27, no. 3 (Sept. 2006)

(Abstracts Unavailable)

David B. Resnik

Compensation for Research-Related Injuries, Ethical and Legal Issues

W. Wylie Blair

Implied Preemption of State Tort Law Claims Against Prescription Drug Manufacturers Based upon FDA Approval

W. Kyle Simonton

Accommodations for the Disabled During Administration of the MCAT, Individual State Interests vs. National Uniformity

James D. Stivers

"The Mercury's Rising!" Can National Group Health Intervention Protect the Public Health from EPA's Clean Air Mercury Rule?

Sameer S. Vohra

An American Muslim's Right to Die: Incorporating Islamic Law into the Debate


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