Psychiatry and religion have had a complicated, at times collaborative and at times competitive, relationship over their respective histories. Since the earliest days of Western medicine, scientifically trained physicians have recognized that religion and spirituality can affect the mind for both good and ill. Historically regarded as the first spiritual healer, the shaman is a prototype of the modern physician and psychotherapist. Prior to the fall of the Roman Empire and the growth of the Catholic Church, priests and physicians were often the same individuals in different civilizations around the world.
For all cultures, it has been a long journey to look for natural rather than supernatural explanations for mental illness. Ancient Jews seemed to have viewed madness in both natural and supernatural terms. Most Christian thinkers saw no inherent contradiction between a medical view of madness and a Christian view. Islam has a long tradition of compassion for those who...
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