Category: Religion and Mental Health

The saintly proponent of mental health

Patron Saints for People Suffering from Depression: 19 Million in the U.S. Alone

Depression, which can be paralyzing, is the most common emotional problem, certainly in the United States: by some estimates 19 million. But of course, it has an international, human dimension that transcends borders. Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney was born near Lyons (Dardilly) on May 8, 1786. As a youngster, he worked the land while teaching other children […]

Pornography addiction: complicated subject

When Your Spouse or Loved One May Be Struggling with Too Much Pornography: Some Facts

Facts: Pornography causes problems socially and individually; pornography cuts against Christian (and most religious) teaching; pornography is demeaning; pornography victimizes women or whoever is depicted. Pornography might properly be described as unfit for consumption…by anyone. Might the title of this blog be “When Your Wife Is a Pornography Addict?” or “When Your Husband Is a […]

An anniversary passes, never to be forgotten

The Longlasting Psychological Effects of a Tragic Fire

In early December a tragedy occurred, one causing untold sadness and posttraumatic stress disorder. Yet in the 56 years since this happened, signs of resiliency have also emerged. In my mind’s eye, I can see my grandfather, 56 years ago, sliding down the chrome pole in his firehouse and landing on the rubber mat. In […]

Father Perry flanked by his proud parents.

What Makes Perfect Psychology and the Perfect Roman Catholic Priest?

What are the qualities that make a good priest, and how can the Catholic community find the young men who possess these qualities? The experience of recent decades shows that the opinions of psychologists and even clergy have not always proved the best guide. Why not go to the source: the perceptions of the parents […]

Saint Ignatius Loyola. In the 15th-16th c., he may have shown signs of OCD and its more worldly spiritual manifestation: scrupulosity.

OCD and Scrupulosity

AMHF Professional Advisory Board member Dr. William Van Ornum is quoted by CNN Health on the subjects of obsessive-compulsive disorder and scrupulosity. Considerable controversy also exists among the professional community regarding issues such as worship itself and OCD or addiction, as well as whether certain seizure disorders manifest, or perhaps mask, themselves as hyper-religiosity.

Eugene Kennedy with fellow novelist and intellectual Norman Mailer

Eugene Cullen Kennedy and William Van Ornum: Renaissance Men

At eighty-five-plus years (But who’s counting the timeless work of a great man?), Eugene Kennedy—former Roman Catholic priest, theologian, philosopher, novelist, and, oh yes, compassionate psychologist—remains ever relevant and ahead of our times. As we approach the first anniversary of the Newtown-Sandy Hook massacre, with all the horrors and trauma engendered, Eugene Kennedy was way […]


Special Education in Catholic Schools

This subject interests me on many levels. At the beginning of my career in clinical psychology, I worked directly with hundreds of people with developmental disabilities. Serving as an expert witness for parents, I helped to implement the federal laws noted below. Later, as clinical director of a day-treatment program, and serving as a Board […]


William James Continued

Last summer I was privileged to be able to reexamine and write about William James and his study of religion and mental health. Although James was aware that religious experiences could lead to or accompany emotional problems, and he used the term sick soul to speak of this, he was fundamentally intrigued by how religion […]


Death by Mind Control? Part 2

Readers of our blog know I draw inspiration from the


Spirituality and OCD: Part 4

How might Eudes’ views be judged by others who are knowledgeable about psychology, psychiatry, and spirituality? Robert Coles, M.D., psychiatrist at Harvard University has for four decades emphasized the need for modern mental-health workers to combine spirituality with mental-health therapy. John Cardinal O’Connor, while known for his strong and formidable presence, also had a master’s […]


Spirituality and OCD: Part 3

“The problem with OCD,” John Eudes says, “is that it leads to a mode of perception and thinking that is too abstract, too narrow. God is life-giving, not a taskmaster or harsh judge of solitary behaviors, as OCD or scrupulosity suggests. To fight OCD, one has to develop other images and thoughts based on reality […]


Spirituality and OCD: Part 1

Although Monk and Jack Nicholson’s character in As Good as It Gets brought smiles as well as sympathy to those who never heard of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and even a certain peacefulness among OCD sufferers that, finally, their peers might see them not as weird but as true persons, a sad reality remains. Obsessive […]


“The New Psychosurgery” and OCD

We are all aware of the psychosurgeries near the turn of the 20th century and how many of these had drastic side effects. There is a new version of psychosurgery, reserved for patients who have profound OCD, whose illness causes incredible suffering and loss of personal freedom. They are patients that have tried all of […]


In Appreciation of Eugene Kennedy

For half-a-century, Dr. Eugene Kennedy’s books have brought complex mental-health issues to the general public. His classic On Becoming A Counselor (now coauthored with his wife, Dr. Sara Charles) has sold 250,000 copies, has been continuously revised to reflect new findings, and is in print after nearly 35 years at this writing. This book teaches […]


“Happy Days: Kierkegaard or the Couch?”

In today’s New York Times, Gordon Marino raises tantalizing and taboo questions in his essay “Kierkegaard on the Couch”: Kierkegaard on the Couch Many of us mental health professionals are quick to see any despair that is made up of themes related to spiritual sadness as indicators of depression, small or major. Freud of course […]


Hagiophobia: Defined but How Prevalent?

One of the goals of the American Mental Health Foundation is to encourage exploration between religion and mental health, particularly in finding religious practices that enhance mental health. We always hope to do so in a nondenominational way. Hagios comes from the Greek word meaning “sacred” or “holy.” Hagiophobia therefore means fear of God, saints, […]


My Summer with William James

Summer is a great time to catch up on all of those novels, mysteries, and thrillers that have piled up over the year. Sometimes it can be a time to reacquaint oneself with favorite authors from the past, read long ago while in school, knowing that a rereading can bring out many more themes. One […]