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Religious superiors, subjects and psychiatrists

Catholic Theological Society of America
Publication Date
  • Medicine
  • Political Science
  • Psychology


RELIGIOUS SUPERIORS, SUBJECTS AND PSYCHIATRISTS Because of the pervasive scope of modern psychiatry and psychology new problems have arisen in the relationships between superiors, subjects and psychiatrists. Religious institutes are making more frequent use of professional psychiatric or psychological care for their subjects. But this help often implicates both the internal forum of the conscience of the religious and the external forum of his government by superiors. Hence problems arise. The present study is tentative. It leaves many questions un- answered. It is merely an attempt to focus attention on the elements of the problem, on some relevant principles, and on some suggestions which look toward a solution. The study is restricted to religious superiors and religious subjects, though much of it may be ap- plicable to other ecclesiastical superiors, rectors of seminaries, etc. It is principally concerned with situations that arise among male religious, especially in clerical institutes. Most of what is said, however, can be adapted to the problems of women religious. The material will be presented under the following headings: I. The Problems; II. Some Principles; III. Towards a Solution. I . T H E PROBLEMS 1. Relations with Community Physicians Generally speaking the relations between a religious superior, religious subject, and the community physician, surgeons, specialists, etc., are fairly well established and fairly well understood. The respective roles of the parties concerned are made clear in ordinary cases by religious rules and constitutions and by approved usages with which all are more or less familiar. It is understood that the superior has the right and duty to care for the physical health of his subjects, that to fulfill this duty he needs the help of physicians, and that in accordance with the standards of religious observance in the given community and 65 66 Religions Superiors, Subjects and Psychiatrists given nation he

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