Ch10 - Chapter 10 Religion, Spirituality, and Physical...

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J.M. Nelson, Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality, DOI 10.1007/978-0-387-87573-6_10, @ Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009 311 Chapter 10 Religion, Spirituality, and Physical Health All major religious traditions have a long-standing interest in working to promote health and to cure physical, mental, or spiritual illnesses. More recently, psychology has also become a major provider of health care services, and psychologists have taken on healing roles previously reserved for doctors or religious professionals. This joint interest offers many possibilities for dialogue between psychology and religion about issues related to health and healing. In this chapter, we look primarily at issues related to physical health; in the next chapter, we will consider mental health. 10.1 Scientific Approaches to Religion and Health Although religious individuals have generally seen their traditions as promoting health, psychologists beginning with Freud have frequently challenged this association, claiming instead that religion is associated with pathology. Much of the dialogue between psychology and religion during the 20th century revolved around this issue. One of the largest shifts in that dialogue has been mounting scientific evidence that religion does indeed promote health, challenging long held antireligious views in the psychological community. 10.1.1 Definitions of Health Health can be defined in one of two ways. In the modernist view that is current in Western societies (see Section 6.3), health is generally defined as an absence of illness or disease and is thought of as an ultimate human good. Illness is thought of as something that invades the body of an individual from the outside and disrupts its complex mechanical functioning. Modern medical care is defined according to the allopathic principle of countering this outside force through chemical and mechanical intervention. Specialist experts are considered essential to the task of countering disease and maintaining normal functioning. This is sometimes referred to as the medical model of health. This view of health and the human person can
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312 10 Religion, Spirituality, and Physical Health be extended to many areas of life by seeing various legal, social, and religious prob- lems as illnesses to be counteracted by specialists. This is sometimes referred to as the medicalization of culture (Kinsley, 1995, pp. 9–11, 170–178). In the medical model, disease can be said to progress in two phases—(1) a prepathogenic phase in which characteristics of the person, environment, and specific problem interact to determine risk; and (2) pathogenesis, when actual problems and symptoms develop. Health care measures in the prepathogenic phase involve primary prevention to reduce the risk of developing a disease. After pathogenesis, the choices are secondary treatment on an outpatient basis or tertiary treatment in a hospital. During the prepathogenic phase, there may be protective factors that either slow disease or move the person toward health. These are also sometimes
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This note was uploaded on 12/07/2011 for the course PSYCHOLOGY 321 taught by Professor Reber during the Fall '10 term at BYU.

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Ch10 - Chapter 10 Religion, Spirituality, and Physical...

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