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McBrolloks

Friday, Apr. 02, 1965

Religion: Faith: Healthy v. Neurotic

Theologically speaking, faith is a gift of God. But in the cold-eyed view of the trained psychiatrist, religious belief may also be a cover-up for deep inner anxiety and a cause of neurosis. Dr. Leon Salzman, professor of clinical psychiatry at Georgetown University medical school, argues that it is often difficult “to determine where religion ends and disease begins.” At the annual meeting in Washington of the Academy of Religion and Mental Health, a number of psychiatrists and clergymen tried to define the tenuous borderline between healthy and neurotic faith.

Church-Induced Guilt. Both clergymen and doctors agreed that authoritarian religion can be a major source of neurosis. Salzman noted some symptoms of unhealthy faith that often show up among new adherents to dogmatic churches: “an irrational intensity of belief” in the new doctrine, greater concern for form and theology than for…

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