Spirituality and OCD: Part 4

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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 degree in psychology and as Cardinal of New York City, he encouraged a melding of spirituality and the psychological sciences.

In earlier research conducted by colleagues and me at Marist College, which was presented at three national conventions of the American Psychological Association (APA) and a book (A Thousand Frightening Fantasies: Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder/Scrupulosity, New York: Crossroad, 1997; foreword by John Cardinal O’Connor), which was reviewed in the Journal of the American Medical Association, we note that there is a large group of OCD sufferers whose symptoms center on religious dread and anxiety. Although many sufferers noted the helpfulness of medication and behavior therapy, there was also a large percentage that reported that spiritual-direction help freed them from their OCD.

Father Gerry Blaszczak, considered by many to be a master spiritual director, shares many of Dom John Eudes’ credentials and interests. Fluent in over six languages including several biblical tongues, Blaszczak’s service in his religious order included abbatial service and many international assignments, and many compare him to Barnabas in the New Testament, who is known as “the Son of Encouragement.” In spiritual direction, he points toward direct awareness of the loving presence of God in all lives. “God has given us the gift of freedom,” says Blaszczak, and he offers us this gift and experience of peace. God is the one who brings this freedom into our lives.” Both Blaszczak and Eudes, try to make others aware that “to see that Jesus is Life shows us that the Father is one of mercy and love.”

“Those experiencing OCD doesn’t feel right or whole,” Eudes concludes. “The problem is not in the behaviors. Knowing the One-Who-Heals directly and immediately can help bring freedom from the burdens of OCD.”

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