A religious psychiatrist's ethnographic self-report.


The religious identity of psychiatric patients is deemed important as it may impact upon the understanding of patients' problems and the quality of the therapeutic relationship. It would seem important that the psychiatrist should also be sensitive to the role of his/her own religious identity and its effect on clinical work. Nevertheless, even in studies by and about psychiatrists who have religious roles within a community, this component has tended to be ignored. A series of self-observations are offered by a religious Jewish psychiatrist to describe the effect of religious identity on himself and his patients during clinical work in Israel. Three types of situations were apparent: when he was unsure about his religious identity, when he was unsure about his professional identity, and when he was dealing with essentially religious rather than psychiatric issues and having to differentiate between his own role and that of a rabbi. These observations support the need to be sensitive to the effect of one's religious identity on clinical work, while appreciating that, as Andrew Sims has stated, the psychiatrist's "attitude towards the patient who shares his faith is as a fellow believer and not as a priest".

Cite this paper

@article{Greenberg2001ARP, title={A religious psychiatrist's ethnographic self-report.}, author={David P. Greenberg}, journal={American journal of psychotherapy}, year={2001}, volume={55 4}, pages={564-76} }