PSYCHOTHERAPY SCIENTIFIC AND RELIGIOUS

A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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444        PSYCHOTHERAPY : SCIENTIFIC AND RELIGIOUS chap.
bring this about, though the message given is not always sufficient to alleviate this burden once it has been imposed. It cannot be too strongly expressed that this practice of arousing feelings of guilt is dangerous in the extreme, and once it has been effected much more is often needed to prevent its evil effects than the proclamation in the theological language of past centuries of ideas which people to-day find it difficult to understand or accept. Dr. W. Brown has often said that after every large house-party which has been organized by the Oxford Group he has had people come to him with difficulties caused by this arousing of the conviction of sin. Naturally, the danger is small where normal people are concerned, but where there already exists a tendency to lack of balance it may be very serious indeed. What is needed is not the conviction of sin in a morbid way and there are few who do not realize their imperfections without necessarily feeling this sense of sin but positive assistance in developing in the right direction and of achieving the best of which the personality is capable. The clergyman's work should be to lessen feelings of guilt, even, if necessary, by formally pronouncing absolution ; and to proclaim the love of God which offers free forgiveness where real guilt is present a work which fundamentally requires grace. As Dr. Hadfield has said : ' The Christian religion is one of the most potent influences that we possess for producing that . . . peace of mind and that confidence of soul which is needed to bring health and power to a large number of nervous patients. In some cases I have attempted to cure nervous patients with suggestions of quietness and confidence, but without success until I have linked these suggestions on to that faith in the power of God which is the substance of the Christian hope. Then the patient has become strong/ 221