In a new book titled "Religion and Psychiatry: Beyond Boundaries," the author considers why and how, when and where religion (and spirituality) are at stake in the life of psychiatric patients.  The interface between psychiatry and religion is explored at different levels, varying from daily clinical practice to conceptual fieldwork.

Religion is one subject that many people around the world feel extremely passionate about, either feeling strongly in their belief of a certain religion, or being against religions generally or specifically. Other people do not engage with religion at all. These choices represent a part of who we are, and as such it is essential for psychiatrists to understand and be able to relate to their patients’ decisions and beliefs in this area.

Religion and Psychiatry is recommended reading for residents in psychiatry, postgraduates in theology, psychology and psychology of religion, researchers in psychiatric epidemiology and trans-cultural psychiatry, as well as professionals in theology, psychiatry and psychology of religion.

Religion (and spirituality) is very much alive and shapes the cultural values and aspirations of psychiatrist and patient alike, as does the choice of not identifying with a particular faith.  Patients bring their beliefs and convictions into the doctor-patient relationship.  The challenge for mental health professionals, whatever their own world view, is to develop and refine their vocabularies such that they truly understand what is communicated to them by their patients.

"The boundary between religious belief and the practice of psychiatry is becoming increasingly porous," say the editors in the Preface to Religion and Psychiatry: Beyond Boundaries. "No longer can psychiatrists in a multi-faith, multi-cultural globalized world hide behind the dismissal of religious belief as pathological, or behind a biomedical scientism, as they are more frequently confronted by distressed patients for whom religious belief may determine their choice of symptoms and their compliance with treatment."

Published on behalf of the World Psychiatric Association, Religion and Psychiatry: Beyond Boundaries, addresses the impact that religion and spirituality have on shaping cultural values, as well as the choice of not identifying with a particular faith. With this book, Peter Verhagen and colleagues provide a framework to understand the importance of these factors in mental well-being, and how to develop and refine their vocabularies to ensure they truly understand what their patients are telling them.

This is the first time that so many psychiatrists, psychologists, and theologians from all parts of the world and from so many different religious and spiritual backgrounds have worked together to produce a book addressing these important issues.

The book discusses what religious traditions can learn from each other to assist the patient, as well as the neurological basis of religious experiences. It describes training programmes that successfully incorporate aspects of religion and demonstrates how different religious and spiritual traditions can be brought together to improve psychiatric training and daily practice.

In the Foreword to Religion and Psychiatry Mario Maj, President of the World Psychiatric Association, states "The WPA welcomes this comprehensive and multifaceted volume, produced by one of its most active Scientific Sectors, hoping that the effort will continue to clarify the issue and stimulate further reflection and research."