I came across a new blog today on the website, Psychcentral, which will be looking at the interface of faith and psychology. Here is his inaugural post, in which he defines the purpose of his writing. I will try to upload more of his posts soon.
By Dr. Greg Popcak
In preparing to write the inaugural post for this blog, a re-imagined version of a popular, old candy commercial popped into my mind…
SCENE: A shrink and a pastor are walking around a grocery store. They absentmindedly bump into each other, their purchases getting mixed up.
SHRINK: You’ve got your chocolate in my mayo!
PASTOR: You’ve got your mayo in my chocolate!
TOGETHER: Hey! THAT’S…. DISGUSTING!!!
There are any number of people on both sides of the fence who think that psychology and religious faith go together like…well, two things that don’t go so great together. My hope is that this blog will help people-of-faith appreciate the helpful role psychology can play in their lives, and help others who aren’t quiet so sure what to do with religion see that it can play a positive role in mental health and emotional/relational well-being.
Although this blog will, at times, address topics related to general spirituality, my primary focus will be more on the intersection of religious faith and mental/emotional/relational health.
Although the number of people identifying as “spiritual but not religious” is growing, and rates of religious non-affiliation among 18-29 yo’s has doubled from 8-16% (according to Pew) in the last decade or so, 80% of the US population still claims affiliation with one denomination or another (with 70-75% of those are various Christian denominations and the remainder divided between Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and other faithful) and 40% of the US adults claim weekly Church attendance. (And in this day of hyper-partisanship and cultural-compartmentalizing, it seems to me that getting 40% of Americans to do anything on a given day every week is something just shy of a miracle).
The sociologist, Peter Berger, once remarked that if India was the most religious nation in the world and Sweden the least, then the US is a country of Indians ruled by Swedes. We might as well say the same thing about mental health in the US; specifically, the US is a nation of Indian patients treated by Swedish shrinks.
Is that as it should be? Do the non-religious Swedes doing the treatment planning know something the religious Indians don’t? Can we in the mental health biz be comfortable with maintaining this attitude in this age of multiculturalism? What would it mean for religion and psychology to get beyond tolerating each other and, instead, creatively engage each other?
These are some of the questions I hope to address. Sometimes I’ll be able to answer questions, and more often my posts will just raise more question for you. But I think that’s just fine. After all, religious faith and psychology are both quests to discover ultimate truths about (with apologies to Douglas Adams) the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. And we can’t get anywhere without asking big questions. Chances are we won’t always agree, but hopefully, we can learn from each other.
Thanks for beginning this new adventure with me!
Gregory Popcak, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an organization dedicated to helping people-of-faith find effective solutions to tough marriage, family, and personal problems.
The author of over a dozen popular books integrating solid theological insights and counseling psychology (including; For Better…FOREVER! , Holy Sex!, Parenting with Grace, Beyond the Birds and the Bees), Dr. Popcak directs a group pastoral tele-counseling practice that provides ongoing pastoral psychotherapy services to faithful couples, individuals and families around the world.
Together with his wife and co-author, Lisa Popcak, he hosts More2Life, Airing M-F, Noon-1pm Eastern (Tune in online or to podcasts at http://www.AveMariaRadio.net). A sought after public-speaker, Dr. Greg has been honored to address audiences across North America, Australia, and Hong Kong.
For more info on books, resources, and tele-counseling services visit http://www.CatholicCounselors.com.