Sunday Morning Channel: “Has Psychiatry Silenced God?”


The website for the Edinburgh International Book Festival has posted a panel discussion from last year’s event that explores religious beliefs, creative inspiration, and whether hearing “the voice of God” should be regarded as a symptom of mental illness.

“Throughout history, divine intervention has influenced great artists, thinkers and leaders, and the voice of God is a distinct and separate presence in the minds of many people today,” states the introduction to the hour-long discussion. “Author and former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway leads this discussion with writer Sara Maitland and psychiatrist and theologian Chris Cook to explore how religious beliefs and creative inspiration define our consciousness. This event, recorded live at the 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival, was part of the Festival’s Conversations with Ourselves series of events presented in association with the University of Durham and with the support of the Wellcome Trust.”

Has Psychiatry Silenced God?
(2014 Event)


  1. If connecting with God in any way is considered a ‘sign of mental illness’ by psychiatrists, then that would explain why so many psychiatrists are so angry. That was my observation going through the system. And, it transfers to the clients. A God-less society is utter madness…obviously.

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    • “A God-less society is utter madness…obviously.” I tend to agree, Alex, and I’m your proof that even a “Christian therapist” believes that a query regarding a dream about being “moved by the Holy Spirit” is a “voice” proving a “life long incurable genetic mental illness,” of which I had no personal or family history. Dreams aren’t “voices,” however.

      And the Jewish psychiatrist (Rabin, meaning “rabbi”) and neurologist (Kohn, meaning “kohen”) I dealt with thereafter both believed that a woman’s theory God could inspire a story (which I’m working on now) was proof of a “life long incurable genetic mental illness,” of which I had no personal or family history. And subsequent doctors don’t believe it was a valid diagnosis either.

      And the Jewish neurologist even claimed the name “El,” “El comes from a root word meaning might, strength, power. Sometimes referring to God and sometimes the mighty when used to refer to the true god of Israel, El is almost always qualified by additional words that further define the meaning that distinguishes Him from false gods.” Kohn also claimed all qualifiers related to “Sha,” as in “Shaddai” or “Sharon,” to be names which are “irrelevant to reality.”

      Some decent and ethical Jews I worked with later sat me down and told me I had an extremely religious name, according to most Jews. Whatever happened to the theory that, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD,” oh, if it’s a women then the male chauvinist pig inspired religions must defame, tranquilize, and poison her?

      I agree, we need to rework our seemingly testosterone overrun, ungodly disrespectful, never ending war society. I’m quite certain that’s not what God wants. The men have made a mockery of our world via their greed and disrespect for all those “unlike” them, including the women who “come in the name of the Lord.”

      I’m glad the English “professionals” are starting to at least discuss the impropriety of psychiatry’s ignorance, and seeming desire to murder all those who believe in God. I’d like to see this happen in the US some day, too.

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      • In the beliefs which I’ve adopted, God is Yin/Yang–that is, the perfect balance between masculine and feminine energies. We all contain, both, masculine and feminine energies, that is the gestalt of our being. For a peaceful world to manifest, we need this balance. No one can be dominant over the other, they must work in harmony.

        When I think of ‘God,’ I think of the sum total of the collective of humanity, plus everything else, including the space between physical objects–as flowing, ever-moving, ever-creating energy. I believe it is inherently loving, although some humans project fear toward that which they don’t understand or perceive as physical.

        To use a psychoanalytic term, I’d call God a neutral ‘blank slate,’ so whatever we project onto this notion of “God” is our reality. If we don’t believe in anything greater than ourselves, well…good luck with it all! That would be rough living, complete uncertainty.

        I’m grateful to have found my connection, here. Turned everything around. I’ll never convince cynics, nor am I trying. But for sure, if I can get people to not feel shame or embarrassment for believing in God, then that’s what I’m happy to offer. The academic world seems a bit short on faith, to my mind, and that matters a great deal when it comes to leadership. Not that claiming to be spiritual is necessarily a sign of trustworthiness, but for sure, I would never trust a faithless leader.

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        • Here’s exactly why I believe in God–

          If I rely on other people to mirror me, then, really, all I see is their subjective perception, and to me, that can never be a complete picture. In fact, it can easily be quite stigmatizing. As a Gay Jewish Latino man with a psychiatric history, more than likely, others will view me quite distortedly, based on projections that are not at all who I am. So I have to have a very strong and unyielding sense of Self to be comfortable in the world. Which I’ve, indeed, developed, so it’s all good.

          And how I developed my sense of Self is to realize how I feel myself reflected in the mind and heart of God, as that is something I can always trust to be accurate. It’s always loving and validating; although if I go out of alignment with my truth, I will feel it, so God is definitely not enabling. As long as I’m walking my talk with integrity and true to my own spirit, then God’s reflection will be affirming and positive.

          Can’t say that for other people, we tend to see each other distorted through our own filters, regardless of our words and actions. I think that goes for everyone. I don’t know anyone at all who can claim to be completely 100% neutral all the time and always see things from the most God-like perspective. That doesn’t seem human to me. I certainly have my subjective version of reality–that’s my story, and also my creativity.

          Still, we all have the capacity to access this higher state of consciousness–our universal connection to light–which is the most helpful thing I know for stress, depression, tough times, etc. So why not practice this? Costs nothing, always a choice, and the only addiction is the addiction to clarity and love, which are wonderful feelings and experiences to have.

          Btw, what I’m calling “God” is, of course, referred to in a variety different ways in many cultures and sub-cultures, but for me, it’s an ‘energy level.’ “God” is a vibrational frequency that is the equivalent to the vibrational frequency of unconditional love, universal compassion, and limitless creativity. These are what we strive to access in ourselves–first, toward ourselves, and then extending outward to others. How can that not be desirable? I know some may feel this is hogwash, or perhaps, impossible, but I beg to differ.

          Maybe I am trying to convince others, on some level. But that’s only out of the desire to see people not suffer! I believe that is our collective goal. Still, I wholeheartedly respect those who feel differently. Although admittedly, I have a hard time being in dialogue with people who do not believe in something greater than our physical beings, because we are talking two totally different languages, and also, the relationship dynamics tend to lack compatibility. That’s a hard truth, but that’s been my experience. If that can somehow, be rectified, I’m all ears.

          Pardon if I am sounding preachy at all, not my intention. I’m actually thinking out loud, here, in the moment. I think this is a really vital topic in regards to our mental and physical well-being.

          In short, I’d call “God” (energy level) the best alternative medicine I know, and I can prove that, beyond the shadow of a doubt, with the story of my life.

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        • Alex,

          You wrote, “In the beliefs which I’ve adopted, God is Yin/Yang–that is, the perfect balance between masculine and feminine energies. We all contain, both, masculine and feminine energies, that is the gestalt of our being. For a peaceful world to manifest, we need this balance. No one can be dominant over the other, they must work in harmony.”

          I was moved to paint the Yin/Yang symbol. And I largely agree with the rest of what you wrote. But I believe that a large part of the cause of our current society’s ills is that we are currently skewed way too far to masculine only control – thus the never ending wars and ‘might makes right’ philosophies, resulting in the corporate and governmental malfeasance against the masses.

          You go on to say, “When I think of ‘God,’ I think of the sum total of the collective of humanity ….” As one raised as a Christian and taught to believe in the “Triune God,” my gut instinct is the “Holy Spirit” is what you call the “sum total of the collective of humanity.” Or as I’ve stated earlier, the inner voice of reason or common sense. I consider God as different from that, He is the One who gives eternal “undeserved love.” But don’t get me wrong, common sense is invaluable also.

          My query for you relates to the fact you’re Jewish, and I’m confused about my Jewish neurologist’s statement in his medical records. He weaned me off drugs in part because he eventually concluded I was “insightful” and, according to him, “voices of God talk through her.” Christian don’t believe God speaks in “voices,” and I share this belief. I briefly researched Jewish beliefs and “voices of God” and all I came across were eschatological links. Do most Jews believe God speaks in “voices?” Was my Jewish neurologist welcomed into the “collective unconscious” of the “Holy Spirit,” but perhaps separated from God, Himself? I don’t know. Any insights would be appreciated.

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          • I’m not Jewish myself so maybe I don’t understand everything but in Judaism you’re not allowed to draw images of God. God, whenever He appears does it by speaking to someone, as a voice.

            “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

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  2. I will mention, I have no doubt these never ending wars are personally profitable for the Bush’s, Cheney’s cronies, and the bankers who seemingly have a stranglehold on both the US and English economies. Perhaps we should be breaking up and suing these “too big to fail banks,” rather having them continue to destroy our economies?

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