Sartrean Account of Mental Health

THEORIA №.3, 2017 pp.17-31

Jelena Krgović

ABSTRACT: The anti-psychiatrists in the 1960’s, specifically Thomas Szasz, have claimed that mental illness does not exist. This argument was based on a specific definition of physical disease that, Szasz argued, could not be applied to mental illness. Thus, by problematizing mental illness, the spotlight had turned to physical disease. Since then, philosophers of medicine have proposed definitions applying both to pathophysiological and psychopathological conditions. This paper analyzes prominent naturalist definitions which aim to provide value free accounts of pathological conditions, as well as normative accounts which propose value-laden accounts. The approaches surveyed differ, not only in terms of value, but also in terms of their perspective. This perspective concerns whether the concept of health, illness or disease/disorder is emphasized. The emphasis on health or illness is holistic as it looks at the human being as a whole, while focus on disease or disorder is analytic as it considers part functions. I will here argue in favor of holism and will propose a definition of mental health based on Sartre’s existential psychoanalysis of Gustave Flaubert.

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Towards a Theological Understanding of Psychopathology and Therapy


by Rev. Fr. Vasileios Thermos, M.D., Ph.D.

The desirable encounter and dialogue between Orthodox Theology and the psychological sciences require a crossing and mutual understanding of their vocabularies which have been isolated for centuries.

Vasileios Thermos-TThis article attempts to correlate the traditional theological terminology of “soul” and “spirit” with what modern psychotherapies call “psyche”, “mental”, “disorder”, and “therapy”. For this purpose, it reviews biblical and patristic sources about the high human energies (intellect, emotion, will etc.) which prove to be products of our common nature, namely of the inseparable complex “soulbody”. Besides, it proceeds to make distinctions between soul and spirit, and to express them in terms of contemporary psychophysiology. Furthermore, it indicates that mental disorders make a distortion of human energies which, because of various etiological factors, become autonomous from the desired unity. At the end, it tries to legitimize the psychological sciences by claiming that modifications of disturbed human psychosomatic energies are not exclusively under the control of the hypostasis as some conservative Christians suggest in order to keep the Church away from psychology and psychiatry. Inner freedom is highlighted as a common aim of spiritual guidance and psychotherapy.

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Rev. Fr. Vasileios Thermos, M.D., Ph.D. is a priest of the Church of Greece. Together with his priestly ministry in Athens, he is a practicing psychiatrist, and is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Psychology at the University Ecclesiastical Academy in Athens. The author of many books and articles, he has offers spiritually provocative and clinically informed programs and retreats in Greece, the United States, Albania, and Cyprus. His insights into the fields of theology and psychology are combined with a strong undercurrent in psychoanalytic thought


Spiritual Fatherhood and Modern Psychology: Thoughts for Consideration

Igumen Gregory (Zaiens)
the Brotherhood of St. John Climacus [ROCOR-MP]


In writing about this subject, I have both fear and compassion: fear because of my lack of Counseleequalification to make a sophisticated analysis, yet being aware of growing trust in the field within the Church, I am stirred with compassion in concern for the Orthodox faithful. This is not a sophisticated analysis, but I will share some thoughts for consideration on this subject, most of which are quotations from others. It must be noted, however, that the final conclusion is meant to be a general statement and is not meant to be an absolute for each person.

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