Psychiatry and Religion: World Psychiatric Association Beyond Boundaries


  • Peter J. Verhagen WPA Section on Religion, Spirituality and Psychiatry,GGZ Centraal, Harderwijk, the Netherlands


Science, Religion, Psychiatry, Cosmology, Axiology, Apologetics


Objective. This paper will reflect on the significance of the discussions on ‘Religion and Science’ for the World Psychiatric Association (WPA). Reflection on this topic has not even started yet despite the publication of a WPA handbook on ‘Religion and Psychiatry: Beyond Boundaries’, started up by the WPA Section of Religion, Spirituality and Psychiatry.

Discourse. Following the model proposed by the Dutch philosopher of Religion and Ethics Willem Drees, two statements will be formulated and discussed:

4. The WPA, indeed representing world psychiatry, needs to change its position toward religion and spirituality. It should do so by crossing narrow minded scientific boundaries like reductionist and materialistic boundaries.

5. Psychiatry and religion should not be regarded as opposing adversaries against each other, but as allies against superstition and nonsense.

Conclusion. The boundary between religion (and spirituality) and the practice of psychiatry is becoming increasingly porous. No longer can psychiatrists in a multifaith, multi-cultural, globalized world hide behind the dismissal of religious belief as pathological, or behind biomedical scientism. Consequently, there is a far more important reason for engaging in ‘Religion and Science’ than the outdated conflicts. That reason would be the persistence of (religious and scientific) superstition and nonsense.



How to Cite

Verhagen, Peter J. “Psychiatry and Religion: World Psychiatric Association Beyond Boundaries”. Actas Españolas De Psiquiatría, vol. 40, no. Suppl. 2, Dec. 2012, pp. 60-65,