Gallup Polls have documented the fact that Americans are a
pretty religious people, with up to 95% of Americans stating that they
believe in God. Further, contemporary neuroscience suggests that practices
such as contemplative meditation can alter the brain. Does this have any
relevance for clinical practice? This course will examine (1) ways of
understanding spirituality and religion from the perspective of psychology
and sociology, (2) scientific research about the relationship between
spirituality and the brain, and (3) practical and ethical implications of
including spirituality and religion as a potential element of clinical
medical practice. Here are just a few of the questions we will ask: “Should
religion be included as part of the context of medical care?” “What should
we do when a physician’s religion—or lack of religion—conflicts with that of
a patient?” “How far should we go in honoring a patient’s religious wishes
when delivering care?” “What about spiritual ideas such as forgiveness,
compassion, and hope?”
Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom
by Rick Hanson.
How God Changes Your
Brain by Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman
The Healing Power of Faith
by Harold Koenig
Handbook of Religion and Health by Harold Koenig, Michael McClullough,
and David Larson
While there will be reading for the class, it is attendance and
participation that make the class work. Allowances are made for students
who have residency interviews or other academic commitments. Class will
begin January 18th and run through April 11th
(12 weeks) and will meet in Suite 500 of the Freeway Medical Center 6-8 pm.
Introduction to spirituality/religion in clinical practice
Write a 1-2 page paper about your own spirituality, including your early
memories/training, issues you may have with spirituality/religion, how you
think your spirituality affects your everyday and professional life.
Spirituality and the Brain. Is there a “God gene?” How does
spirituality/religion affect the brain?
Spiritual practices: what are they, can they be integrated into clinical
practice, how might they serve physicians personally?