The psychological road not taken

I haven’t posted anything in a while so I thought I would post a rather interesting event that happened to me a couple of years ago during my honours year.

A course for honours (totally unrelated to my current project and future prospects, but you don’t have all day to read why uws’ treatment of honours students leaves much to be desired) had the class psychologically assess a character based off a profile. This character was based on a real previous case that the course co-ordinator had been privvy to and subsequently treated.

Our tutor was 7th year psychologist, Miss A. The character (let’s call him Albert) was discussed in regards to his constant preoccupation with sexual sin. Exhibiting signs of OCD such as constant hand washing, he consistently went to church to pray for forgiveness of his thoughts (for anyone not trained psychologically, OCD’s crux is that sufferers have a hard time delineating between thought and action). Albert was only fifteen years old and no doubt going through the joy of adolescence. His mother, a respectful and caring woman dutifully took him to church every day until Albert became too demanding, needing more and more time as his condition started taking over his life.

“What factors influenced this patient” Miss A asked the class.

“his school” quipped a fellow student. “they should have given him more education about sex.”

“adolescence” spoke another. “it’s a confusing time for anyone.”

Miss A agreed. Anything else?

“His mother” spoke a dozen voices.

Anything else?


I offered a meek response.

“His religion.”

Miss A smiled a somewhat cautionary smile. A mix of apprehension and perhaps the sensation of knowing this would be an answer she would recieve. She responded.

“Well… I don’t like to judge.”

How religion has affected the minds of countless is a topic too large for here. But this event involved a psychologist, a good one, with the task of analyzing and assisting patients in ameliorating existing conditions (or generally improve livelihoods) and yet did not turn over one very real stone. Miss A felt that to approach religion was a task too much, an area best left untouched and that other factors, even criticism of a mother and scholarly institution were more salient.

This sort of reverence for religion is counter-intuitive to what science espouses. It is counter to any rational semblance. Yet, if this example is common, religion must still pervade the applied knowledge of psychology. For a discipline that does battle with its scientifically legitimacy at its frontiers, is it too much to suggest this sort of thing should be dealt with?


~ by freeze43 on March 23, 2011.

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