2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue
PRHS3300 Religion and Mental Health
20 creditsClass Size: 50
Module manager: Dr Simon Hewitt
Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable
Year running 2022/23
This module is not approved as a discovery module
Module summaryHow do people from various religious traditions make sense of the experiences mainstream western culture calls ‘mental disorder’ or ‘mental illness’? How do different interpretations of mental illness affect the experience of mental illness? For example, how might regarding depression as a sin or a result of demon or jinn possession make the experience different from seeing it as a sign of holiness or closeness to God, as a purely biomedical condition, or as an opportunity for spiritual and religious transformation? Or how might regarding hearing voices as part of a calling to mediumship rather than psychosisaffect the experience and its prognosis? And how might these interpretations affect the illness’ prognosis, and the range of treatments people will undertake?How might the interpretations religious communities give to people’s experiences of mental illness intersect with other aspects of people’s identities, such as gender and sexuality? Is it ok to be critical of certain interpretations of mental illness, and, if so, what criteria (philosophical, theological, clinical, socio-political) should we use, or should we use in particular contexts?What therapeutic resources do religion and spirituality offer? How might Ignatian spiritual exercises, or psalms of lament in liturgical contexts, or ingesting the words of the Qur’an, or rituals aimed at liberating people from unhappy spirits, or collective rituals very generally, contribute to wellbeing - and why?This module brings philosophy, theology, and Religious Studies into debate with psychiatry, psychology, sociology and medicalanthropology to discuss key questions relating to religion and mental health. It will be relevant to philosophers, theologians, Religious Studies scholars who wish to develop their expertise in relation to real-world concerns. It will also be relevant to prospective mental health professionals, responding to the fact that psychiatrists and psychologists often report feeling they have insufficient Religious Studies education to deal with their clients’ religious beliefs. Finally, it will be relevant to people thinking of becoming involved in pastoral work, such as religious ministry, who will often be the first port of call for people experiencing mental health problems, and who will seek to advise people wisely.
ObjectivesTo familiarise students with various religious interpretations of mental illness, the impact these interpretations have on people's experiences, and the way they interesect with e.g. gender and sexuality and relate to broader socio-political issues.
To enable students to understand and critically appraise methodologies for analysing and/or evaluating religious interpretations and beliefs (philosophical, theological, clinical, sociological/socio-political, etc).
To facilitate awareness of and critical engagement with pastorally-and clinically-relevant therapeutic resources from religious traditions.
By the end of the module, students will be able to:
1. Show an understanding of the way religious and other (including medical) interpretations of mental health and illness affect the quality (or phenomenology) of the experience of mental illness, the prognosis, and the range of treatments people will undertake.
2. Critically reflect on different ways of analysing, evaluating or critiquing different interpretations of mental illness (and
different religious and other beliefs more generally) – e.g. philosophical, theological, clinical, socio-political.
3. Demonstrate awareness of how different relevant disciplines (philosophy, theology, sociology, anthropology) might go about
analysing or engaging with religious beliefs.
4. Analyse religious interpretations of mental illness with respect to gender, sexuality, and wider socio-political issues (such as socio-economic ones)
5. Reflect on different (medical, religious and other) categories relating to healing and health (e.g. salvation, human flourishing,
wellbeing, mental health). Reflect on whose categories they are, what criteria they presuppose, and how they might relate to one another
6. Show familiarity with some of the potentially therapeutic resources religious traditions can offer – and theories about why
these might be therapeutic.
Ability to employ concepts and methods of argumentation specific to religious studies and philosophy
Representative topics may include: the relevance of interpretation to experience; theologies that view mental illness as a sign of sinfulness or lack of faith or demonic or jinn possession; psychological distress and the Dark Night of the Soul; the wounded healer and potentially transformative models of depression; passibilism and impassibilism;
God, Christ and the saints as fellow sufferers; holy fasters and anorexia; hearing voices and mediumship; biomedical and social models of mental illness in religious thought
|Delivery type||Number||Length hours||Student hours|
|Independent online learning hours||178.00|
|Private study hours||0.00|
|Total Contact hours||22.00|
|Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)||200.00|
Private studyPreparation for seminars
Preparation for essays
Opportunities for Formative FeedbackFeedback on essay 1 will be formative for writing essay 2
Students will be given the opportunity to discuss essay plans and drafts with me during my office hours throughout the module
Some class time will be devoted to essay-writing training
Methods of assessment
|Assessment type||Notes||% of formal assessment|
|Essay||1 x 2,000 words||50.00|
|Essay||1 x 2,000 words||50.00|
|Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)||100.00|
Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated
Reading listThere is no reading list for this module
Last updated: 09/05/2022 16:32:14
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