The Catholic Faith and Psychiatry

By: PaxCare Staff


What is the Catholic View of Psychiatry?

Some hold the position that the use of prescription medication in the treatment of those suffering from a mental or emotional condition is anti-Catholic. Many of these same people hold that all one needs to do is pray and rely on the grace of God more than they are and that should fix the problem. The same people often stake their claims on the fact that the field of psychiatry holds views contrary to the Catholic faith and therefore it is a dark and corrupt field of medical practice. The problem with comments like these is that they are more consistent with a Christian Science (which believes that all illness, much less mental illness is purely a spiritual problem) or even Scientologist (which profits by offering its own phony “treatment”) view of medicine than they are a Catholic view.  Catholics recognize that good can be found even in ritually impure places. St. Paul address the early Christians who wondered if it was OK to eat meat sacrificed to pagan gods in 1 Cor 8:4-6 saying, “So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”  

Catholics recognize that truth and goodness remains true and good even when it is hiding in “ritually impure” (so to speak) places.  It remains so, because it was made—or at least made possible—by God.  If something is helpful, or true, or good (as evidenced by the fruit it bears) then it comes from God.  When Jesus was accused of using demonic power to cast out demons, he challenged his accuser by pointing out that actions, such as healing, can only come from a power stronger than that which caused the illness (c.f., Lk 11: 14-28).

Some Help from a Pope

In 1993, Pope John Paul II addressed a gathering of psychiatrists saying, “This meeting affords me a welcome opportunity to express the church’s esteem of the many physicians and health care professionals involved in the important and delicate area of psychiatric medicine…. By its very nature your work often brings you to the threshold of human mystery. It involves sensitivity to the tangled workings of the human mind and heart, and openness to the ultimate concerns that give meaning to people’s lives. These areas are of the utmost importance to the church, and they call to mind the urgent need for a constructive dialogue between science and religion for the sake of shedding greater light on the mystery of man in his fullness.”

No Catholic should ever feel afraid or ashamed of seeking professional mental health treatment of any sort. No Catholic should ever try to discourage a brother or sister in Christ from seeking such help.  And if some Catholic does ever do anything to stop someone from getting the help they need, that person will have much to account to God for.

If you find yourself struggling with a mental health issue, don’t delay. Contact your PaxCare Tele-coach  today and get the help you need to succeed.

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