Owe Wikström
 

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THE SILENCE OF GOD

Owe Wikström

THE SILENCE OF GOD

 - the use of “God” or “god”  in psychotherapy – preliminary remarks

The background of this paper consists of many informal discussions I have had during the last two semesters when I have given a number of clinical seminars in psychiatric settings on the role of religion in mental health/illness. For a long time my main interest has been concentrated on the patient´s religiosity. More recently I have become increasingly aware of the role of the therapist´s religiosity and especially how countertransference influences the therapy when the therapist´s r him/herself is a devout Christian yet working in and “agnostic setting” – such as  a general hospital.

     In this paper I would like to make some clinical remarks as to the ambivalence of Christian therapists who are trained to understand a person´s religiosity in both psychodynamic and theological/pastoral terms. The aim of the paper is to elucidate the internal conflict that may emerge for a Christian therapist. The conflict is as follows: The therapist sees how a patient´s representation of God is linked to intrapsychological emotional forces, conflicts and needs and therefore might intervene by means of a neofreudian/objectrelational theory of religion (God as god);  but at the same time the therapist also would like to be a faithful Christian and therefore – in the psychotherapeutic process – also wants to support the patients experience of God as a living autonomos entity, not reducable to intrapsychic developmental or illusionistic needs (i e God as God).

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