Influence of Psychiatry on Religion Discussed by Jewish Leaders

The influence of psychiatry on religion was discussed at the four-day national institute held this week at Brandeis Camp in Santa Susanna, California, and attended by more than 100 Jewish leaders from various parts of the country.

Rabbi Henry E. Kagan, one of the few Jewish spiritual leaders who is also a qualified psychologist, told the assembled Jewish leaders that the influence of psychiatry on religion has been tremendous, not because it has taught religion something new, but because it has awakened religion to relearn some things about itself which are very old.

The first officiating rabbi to become a member of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Kagan said that clergymen must, in many cases, still overcome their failure to perform one of religion’s classic functions, that of giving comfort to those suffering emotional or mental strain. He asserted that Prof. Sigmund Freud’s rediscovery of the unconscious motives of men has revised the interest of clergymen in the “talking-out” healing method known to classic religion.

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