PSYCHOTHERAPY SCIENTIFIC AND RELIGIOUS

A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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I$6          PSYCHOTHERAPY: SCIENTIFIC AND RELIGIOUS chap.
considerable measure of support. Having been anointed, the patient assumes that he is about to die.
The development of unction in the Eastern Churches has been on different lines. There the rite consists of seven parts and the service is conducted in the Greek Church, for instance, by seven priests and at least one deacon ; and one priest and seven deacons in the Coptic Church. The sick person has to be anointed for seven successive days including the day of the service when he is anointed by the priest; the following six days the priest is not necessary and the patient may anoint himself with the consecrated oil. Thus the service does not suggest instantaneous cure. On the other hand, a custom has arisen in many places of administering unction to those in good health after Confession and Absolution. The unction is thought to impart fuller cleansing from sin with a view to good Communion.
Throughout the mediaeval period there were saints who were believed to possess the gift of healing, but among the innumerable records of miracles it is impossible to distinguish truth from falsehood. Few of the accounts are supported by substantial contemporary evidence, while many are silly, unspiritual, or even immoral. Some were so obviously derived from Scriptural or Apocryphal records that their authenticity can scarcely be upheld. Some of the saints were, it is true, responsible for marvellous cures, but generally unintentionally. In fact, there were some who virtually tried to avoid conferring health on others. Nearly all the great religious leaders of history have, by virtue of their personalities, so stimulated the faith of sick people that they have recovered Paul, Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Luther, Swedenborg, Fox, John Wesley, for example. Christian kings in England and France were able to heal by their touch, and there was even con-