What Kind of Problem Is It?
The dangers of spiritualizing your psychological problems
.- Maria had been struggling with some depressive and anxious thoughts for a while, although at the time, she didn’t recognize them as such. Probably because she was 14 years old.
When she shared her struggles with someone in her Catholic community, the woman told Maria that she was worried that “the devil was working his ways” in her, and used that to pressure her into going on a week-long retreat out of state.
“Sure, retreats are great,” Maria told CNA. “But pretty sure I just needed a therapist at that point in my life. And pretty sure I had already given valid reasons for why I wasn’t interested in buying a plane ticket for a retreat.”
When Catholics experience spiritual problems, the solutions seem obvious – talk to a priest, go to confession, pray, seek guidance from a spiritual director. But the line between the spiritual and the psychological can be very blurry, so much so that some Catholics and psychologists wonder if people are too often told to “pray away” their problems that may also require psychological treatment.