It would seem that the basis for Christopher Cook’s objection to our paper is our perspective on Charles Taylor’s theory of the rise of secularity in the modern world.1 In doing so, he provides a skewed analysis of what we were actually saying. Taylor’s work was helpful to us in considering psychiatry’s attitude to religion. However, our main aim was to suggest that despite our deeply materialist age a sense of transcendent meaning was of great value to human beings and had never been lost. In this at least Cook seems to agree with us.
We were invited by the Editor to write a response to Harold Koenig’s interesting suggestion that psychiatrists might pray with their patients.2 In doing so, we took the stance that a focus on the practice of praying with patients was distracting attention from the far greater issue of spirituality and meaning in people’s lives. Cook appears to think we are against a thoughtful consideration of religion in psychiatry when that was never the case. He has missed our irony completely. One particular peer reviewer of our article had strikingly similar attitudes and forced our commentary through three revisions before they could accept it. The whole unhappy experience has made us worried about the increasing defensiveness of some religious psychiatrists in the College who appear to want to control discourse about psychiatry and religion. This should concern us all.
- © 2010 Royal College of Psychiatrists