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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2000 Sep;188(9):608-15.

Assessing problems with religious content: a comparison of rabbis and psychologists.

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  • 1Intervention Research Center for Geriatric Mood Disorders, Department of Psychiatry, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, White Plains, New York 10605, USA.


This study measured distinctions made by a sample of clergy and mental health professionals in response to three categories of presenting problems with religious content: mental disorder, religious or spiritual problem, and "pure" religious problem. A national, random sample of rabbis (N = 111) and clinical psychologists (N = 90) provided evaluations of three vignettes: schizophrenia, mystical experience, and mourning. The participants evaluated the religious etiology, helpfulness of psychiatric medication, and seriousness of the presenting problems. The rabbis and psychologists distinguished between the three diverse categories of presenting problems and concurred in their distinctions. The results provide empirical evidence for the construct validity of the new DSM-IV category religious or spiritual problem (V62.89). Use of the V code allows for more subtle distinctions among the variety of problems that persons bring to clergy and mental health professionals. These distinctions may also provide a foundation for the initiation of co-professional consultation.

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