Why psychiatry might cooperate with religion: The Michigan Society of Pastoral Care, 1945–1968

AHP readers may be interested in a forthcoming piece, now available online, in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences.

Why psychiatry might cooperate with religion: The Michigan Society of Pastoral Care, 1945–1968,” Laura Hirshbein. Abstract:

The early decades of the pastoral care movement were characterized by a remarkable collaboration with psychiatry. While historians of the religious aspects of this movement have noted the reliance of pastoral care on psychiatry and psychology, it has been less clear how and why mental health professionals elected to work with clergy. This paper uses the Michigan Society of Pastoral Care (MSPC), one of the early training programs for hospital chaplains on the model of the Boston?based Institute for Pastoral Care, as a window to explore the interactions between psychiatry and religion at mid century. Raymond Waggoner, the nationally recognized and well?connected chair of the psychiatry department at the University of Michigan, was instrumental in expanding the influential pastoral care program at his hospital and in his state as part of his bigger mission of emphasizing the fundamental role of psychiatry in American life. Waggoner played a key role within the MSPC, in conjunction with leaders within the medical departments of the major hospitals in the state. All of the members of the MSPC viewed psychiatry’s insights as essential for pastoral care, with the caveat that chaplains should remain pupils, not practitioners of psychotherapy.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.

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