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Psychotherapy: orthodox view

Dr.DmitryAvdeev, M.D.,Ph.D.

Psychotherapy as a scienceappeared at the turn ofXIX and XX centuries. In our country it got it’s official status only in 1985 after the speciality “psychotherapist” was added into the range ofmedicaldisciplines. Many clinicians incline to believe that psychotherapy is a complexof therapeuticinterventions in the psyche and throughthe psyche on the whole body. Hence the indications for the psychotherapy.The greaterproportionof psychological factorsis considered to lie in the originof the disease, the more therapyis prescribed. So the decision motives of the Ministry of Health to introduce thisspecialty are clear now. Rapidlygrowing numberof borderline mental disorders such as neurosis,psychopathies,post-stressconditions, alcoholizationof population, problems of substance abuse, etc. were in the list.

In brief, the nature of thistherapeutic approach is atreatment of words, consolationandemotionalsupport ofpeopleseeking help. Such aims have been declared. “Psych” in Greek means “soul; spirit”; “therapeia” - “healing; medical treatment”. A two-word combination means"treatmentof soul," "therapy of soul." It is a remarkableterm and it is verysad thatitoftencarries quitedifferent content.

It is notablethat this branch of medicine formed in our country exactly during the Soviet period.Atheismgave no inspiring to the soul. And besidesdoctors werewell aware that thementalcondition of the personlargely determineshis health. The paradox took place. On the onehand, the existenceof man’s soul was notrecognizedand its notion was considered purelyidealistic. On the other hand at the same time the doctors, attemptedto help the very soul, began to work in clinics. Physicians were taughtprimarilyhypnosis, automotive training and some other “wisdoms” during advanced trainingsin psychotherapy. After that they were sent"on thefront line" – to the hospitals. Of course, there were applied no high moral demands to the doctor-therapist, so he could work as he liked.

The history ofpsychotherapygoes back centuries. In ancient times,themedical art was said to be based on three"pillars": “knife, healing herb, and word”. Knife is “a prototype of surgery”, “healingherb” - a generalized imageof dosage forms, and “word” refers toa living, spiritual relationship of the doctorto the patient. The main toolof the psychotherapy is the word. In this casewe are talkingabout the impact ofthe word, about the healing by the word.

As time passed, the senturies changed and then came the XVIII sentury. What isitremarkable for? It is remarcable for the French Revolution. The separation of European medicinefromthe Churchled to therejection of the man’s spiritual foundation. But was there left any need for neuroses treatment?Sure there was. That need made doctors search for the new methods of treatment, but apartfrom God. So there appeared such schools as “Mesmerism” (Mesmer's magnetism); “hypnosis” of the British surgeon Brad; autosuggestion (self-hypnosis) of the French psychologist and pharmacist ÉmileCoué de la Châtaigneraie.

Later,in the XXcentury, the twowords - automotive training – were on everyone's lips.Heinrich Schultz, aGerman professor, after his visits to India made some kind of a synthesisbetweenyoga andpsychotherapy and offered this method tothe Europeans. For a long time in the Soviet Union thismethod was themost popular. Sciencereinforced theimportance of thesetechniquesthrough the doctrine of thereflex and the theory of the dominant buttheir affinity withoccult practices remainedoutside appraisal. Once I was invited to make a speech at the medical conference wherewas discussedthe question ofadmissibility of useof the hypnosis from the Orthodox pointof view. The position of somespeakers could be summarized to the stand that the lightstagesof hypnosisare allowed, but not the deeper. In my opinion,thispoint of wiev is wrong. The message is incorrect. If we consult the Holy Fathers, the Optina Elders, we will get the strait and clear unswers to these questions. So I offered to members of the meeting to give an honest answerto thequestion “would you like tobe ever treated byhypnosis?” Everyone gave a clear unswer “No”.

The therapeutic effectsof the hypnosisare exaggerated and it isan indisputable fact. In Moscow about thirty years agopsychotherapistRaikovwas trying to developcreativitythrough the hypnosis. He hypnotizedpeopleandtold them: you are Repin,you are Tchaikovsky. But after these hypno sessions no one became eitherRepin orTchaikovsky. In the lateseventies emerged strong researches which proved the harm of deephypnotictrance to the mental health. So anyway, this method is certainlyantichristian.

Hypnotism, which dominated for a long time in the psychotherapy,ceased to satisfypsychotherapists themselves. Sigmund Freudtried to get closer to the mind in order to counterbalance the hypnosis. But his attempt obviously turned to beunsuccessful, besides it could not even besuccessful. Theomachistandatheist Freud did not leavea smallspace inman's soulforspirituality. Doctor of MedicineO.G.Syropyatov was right saying  “The spiritual life is always conscious,whereas theunconscious which serves as the base to all systems of psychotherapeutic schools, is a signof darkness andsin”

Versus Freud, PaulDubois, a Swissneurologist,alsofoughtwith hypnosis, seeing analternative to the hypnotisminthe emphasis on therationallogic. “Daughters” of a rational psychotherapy - psychotherapies of BeckandEllis – were also engaged incorrection oflogic. Cognitivefaculties of the soul were discovered. Not bad, but still it was notspiritual intelligence. In other words, the rational psychotherapywasalsoopposite to thehypnotism, more favorable to my mind. There were also created and developed a lot of other school and approaches in psychotherapy.In 2007, theEuropean Association for Psychotherapycertified thirty one modality, in other words thirty one therapy approaches. Nowadays in the U.S.A. exist more than one thousandmethods of psychotherapy.

NicholasLaisha, a BelarusianOrthodox psychotherapist, speaks aboutveryimportant issuesof modern psychotherapy “Why istheresuch a chaosin the field ofpsychological andpsychotherapeuticservices rended to the population? In modernpsychologyandpsychotherapy there is nocommon view of human nature, of the source, inducingitsactivity andofthe cause of theneuro-psychiatric disorders. There aremore than twenty(!)basic concepts ofidentity,recognized inmodern psychology, and each of them has its successors. However, eachof the identity concepts, in its essence is nothing less than "psichoteology" or "psichoreligion", headed byapowerfulpreacher... Ingeneral the author of every identity concept is an atheist. He creates his own “theology”, “psedo-religion” and “faith”. Convincedof the truth ofhisviewsof human nature, of the rightness of his ideology, of the purity ofhis experience, author defends his views, seeking the ways to persuadeopponents. After becoming a “teacher”, the founder of anotherdoctrine, concept and theory encourageseveryone to follow noobody, but him”.

As far back as 1974, a famousTibetanTrungpasaidthat Buddhism would cometo the West throughpsychology. Andthese words,alas, came true.A huge numberof methods andapproaches of thepsychotherapycan notbedefying as inspirational, sometimes they could even be  harmful for man’s soul.Canablindmanlead a blindman?Willtheynot both fall intoa pit? (Luke 6:39) sais the Holy Gospel.

Severalyearsagoduring psychology and psychotherapy seminar we did an interesting and in many ways significant research. We asked the participants to recallandwrite down ten or twelve events of the past five years, which had left in their memory the most vividfootprint. Thenthese events weredistributedinto four categories: “health”, “activity”, “contacts” and “spiritual values”.

The first categoryconsisted of the eventsrelated to health, physical activity, sports, etc. The second - ofprofessional,creative,scientific and educationalactivities,as well as ofself-education, hobbies etc. The “contacts” categoryincludeda wide range ofcommunications (frombusinesstopersonal). Everything connected withreligion problems, philosophy, impression of spiritual books, inspirational meetings, etc. was related to the “spiritual values” category.

We received two hundred and fiveresponses in total. Only four of them were related tothe the "spiritual values" category, and only twowere about theOrthodox spirituality.

Bleak situation, isn’t it? Physicians who are supposed to heal thesoul, are least interested in the very soul(either their own or someone’s else). Psychotherapyin our countrywas in thesituation of a child, plunged into the whirlpool oflife without care andsupervision. And as a rule in such situation the child chooses anything but the best. Psychotherapy turned out to be in the positionof a man sittingon a sack ofgold, holding out his handfor alms. Spiritualityof Holy Russiaonce again was not in demand, and the light of Orthodoxy did not attractthe attention of pundits andthe majority of practitioners.

 Year 1991. The relicsof St.Seraphim of Sarovfather were transferred toDiveyevo. I immediatelyremembered this fact.I am sure that this grace has stirredthe whole country. About this timesome faithful psychologists and psychotherapiststried tobringtheir ideologyinto practice. There also appeared firstbooksdevoted tothe Orthodoxpsychology written, for example, by Archpriest BorisNichiporovaand by Professor of psychology Bratus. Physiciansread with gusto the book"Psychiatryand the problems ofspiritual life." written by wonderfulpsychiatristand deeply religiousman,ProfessorDmitryMelekhov.

While findingGod,churching, entering the worldof ChristianOrthodox theology, the therapist himself began toheal. Hebegan to realizethe Truth. Only via it hetried to help somehowpeoplecoming to counseling. What did the Holy Ortodox reveal to the psychotherapist who had come to believe? It certanly revealed a clearideologicalbasis and, speaking the medecine language, a clear understanding of what the health and the diseases are. It also revealed the doctrine of thepowerof soul, sin and virtue. The faiful physician started to consider sinas a sourceof manyneuropsychiatricdisorders,psychological problems,conflictsand disruptionsof life. At the same time the psychotherapist saw the man’s split heart and soul after the Fall. After the Fallof our forefathers, the mind, heartandwill of each of us went three separate ways. What fable sounds familiar here? “The Swan, cancer, and pike” does. Dimitry Smirnov, a famouspreacherArchpriest, said that a person(hissoul) is like a pitcher brokeninto pieces, and thehealingstarts with theunderstanding of thisfact.

There is one almosta tabootopicin secularmedicine andpsychology –  death. This theme is usually passed over in silence. Scienceis helpless here. Siriously ill patients are constantlycheered up with "everything will be fine," or "everything is going to be ok". So the man dies in this lie. He dies unprepared, without repentance and spiritualtestament. For the Orthodox Christian the remembranceof deathhour is one of themain life concern. From a young age every Christian asksthe Lord fora painless,peaceful andhonorable death, and a goodresponseat the Lastjudgment. When you readabout the death ofthe righteousand holy, the soul fills not by sorrow,but bytendernessand joy...

When we talk about the Orthodoxpsychotherapy,our mindascendsto the image ofthe Holy Elders. Here isa smallextractfrom the book “Chronicle ofSeraphimo-Diveyevo monastery”: “FatherSeraphim had a clear mind, finesolid memory,truly Christianview, the heart approachable for all people,unbendingwill and the gift of aliveandhearty speech. His speech wassoeffective thatthe listener receivedof it the benefit to hissoul. His speeches were filled withhishumility spirit, warmed the cockles of one's heart, removedfrom the eyesas ifsomeveil, illuminated theminds ofthe interlocutors with the lightof spiritual understanding, ledthemtoremorseandarousedstrongchange for the better, subdued involuntarilythe will and theheartsof others,poured there peace and silence.”

The central theme of Orthodoxpsychology and psychotherapyis the doctrineof the passions. What issinfulpassion? St. Theophan the Recluse wrote “Passionis agradualdesire to sinin a known manner. Or it is a sinful love for somecasesorsubjects” The passion get strongly implanted in man and becomes like his secondnature, core ofhisfeelings and desires. In many casesman’s behavior is guided by passions. It is them who in their deepfoundation push a man to his sinfuldeeds. Hence, by the way, it becomes clear whythere is so much conflicts, absurdity, rashness and evil around. There are so many things inour lives that contradict elementarylogic and common sense. The Holy Fathershave marked out severalkeyconditions of the struggleagainst the passions. First of all, you should avoid occasions andcauses that could excite and food passionsin the soul. Secondly, you must cut off thepassionin itsrise. The third condition - youshould not bediscouraged in the struggle against passions. If you happen to fall, you should repent again and again, rise upandmarchto Christ, overcomingthe sinfulinclinations. Again and again. You should never beinself-confidence and rely only upon your strength, endurance and stamina,but you should put your trust first of all in God. And finally, you must remember thatsin arises in one’s heart and soul before it’s realization. You shoulstopsinful thoughtsin their veryrise.

What are themain tasks of the Orthodoxpsychotherapy? ProfessorL.F.Shekhovtsova, Orthodox psychologist,marked outtwo. The first generaltask - isto helpa person to perceive his passionatepsychologicalmechanisms. I amtotallyagree with it. The second concretetask is to help a person to solve his problems and life difficulties. Here lies a very important information  about the way from the understanding of the problem to the recognition of sin and the ways of its healing. The sin and sinful passionsoftenhide behind all problems. Modern psychotherapy(non-Christian) connives to theman’s passionsandsins, seeks to raise hisself-esteemorfocuseson the meditation and on thepsychic self-regulationthroughthe altered state ofconsciousness. And that  is its tragedy.

There is anotherveryimportant fact. Religiousconfessionalpsychotherapy denotes the use ofreligious experiencenot in general, butspecificallyof the Orthodox spirituality. That's whyI and many of my colleagues usethe term "Orthodox Psychotherapy".

Two separated forms are also denoted in the Orthodoxpsychotherapy. The thirst form is purelyecclesiastical. The whole way oflife of the Church is entirely psychotherapeutic. It should be clearly understood. The second is theoretical and practical, in other words it is a help oftherapist,clinical psychologist ora specialist. The Christian experience of the Holy FathersandDoctors of the Churchcould not andshould notbe transformed intosome kind ofpsychotechnics. It means that herewe need to have the right approach to the matter. I’d like to draw yourattention to the "Basis of the Social Concept of the Russian OrthodoxChurch.": “More fruitful in psychotherapy is the combination of the pastoral and the medical aid with due delimitation made between the jurisdictions of the doctor and the priest… Morally inadmissible are the psychotherapeutic approaches based on the suppression of a patient's personality and the humiliation of his dignity. Occult methods of influencing the psyche, sometimes disguised as scientific psychotherapy, are categorically unacceptable for Orthodoxy.” The psychotherapist sertanly doesnot replace the priest, heonly precedeshim, sometimesrepresentingsome kind of a "barrier" that preventsthe patient from falling intoeven greatertemptations and sins- alcoholism, fornication and suicide. The main aimof the Orthodoxministryis salvation ofsouls, and of the Orthodoxpsychotherapy - ishealingof soul. In this case the priest and the doctorare God's fellow workers in counseling. We musthold fast the Orthodox faithandsharethese life-savingtreasurewith our patients, love themand beartheir burdens.

In the early twentiethcentury archpriestGregoryDyachenkoinone of his bookswrote some text lines, which could help to define the essence of the OrthodoxPsychotherapy: “Confess your sins to each other” said the Apostle Jacob. But what do we do fromthis commandment? We are toldthat it is enoughto confessto Godthrough the sacrament ofpenance. In order tobe forgiven- yes, it is so. But youwill see thatin addition to that there is also a secret butan urgent needthat lies in the essence of the man - to be in full view ofa person. World seesonly external and superficial side of our lives,the sideunder whichlife is presented in the most favorableway. Butthere are moments in our life whenyou wantto open areality, to show up the essence of life, so thatat leastone person knew what is hidden in us by our needandtemptation. In this case we are not driven by confidence, but by a deep needto be understood, relieved and consoled. Don’t we know how much beneficialandlife-saving is there in suchconfessions? Don’t weknow that some ofthe uncertain and embarrassing temptationssurrounding us, lose their powerandcharmby the mereexpression them in words? Don’t we knowhow manystrengthand consolationcangiveus an intelligent and well-brought-up heart?

Will he findit in you, my brother? Will hefindmercy so ready to listen tohim andkeephisconfession? Will he findthe serious attentionthat no oneshunsandwhich is trustworthy alone?

The distinctive trait of the Orthodoxpsychotherapy isChristian charity, compassion coupled with the ability of usingpsychotherapeuticandmedical knowledge. St.Luke(Voyno-Yasenetskiy) said about psychotherapy the following: “Psychotherapy, consisting ofverbal or ratherspiritualphysician influenceon patient oftengivesexcellent results andis already recognized as the method oftreatment for many diseases.” Here we sould stress that the essence of psychotherapy consists rather more of spiritual than of verbal effects.

Patients of the therapistare very specialcontingent. Their sufferingsare often linkedwith moralconflicts,family problems, emotional experience after a serious illness, spiritual quest. The doctorusuallysees a man whosuffers from the lackof love, understanding, support fromloved ones. Curative psychotherapeutic influence should, in my opinion, have a hierarchy of goals: from the immediate (to calm, instill hope, remove symptoms of illness) to the most important — the internal growth and development, the conversion to enduring values.I am deeply convinced that psychotherapy, when possible, should become a "bridge" to faith in God.

It is hard to overestimate the role of the Ortodox Psychotherapy in rehabilitation of drug addicts and alcoholics. The main task ofpsychotherapeuticinterventions is to form a new point of wievamoung suffering on drug addiction and alcoholism and to make them see these diseases as sinful illnesses.

I will share one example with you. For three years, I worked in the rehabilitation department of the cardiology clinic inCheboksary. I had to mentally rehabilitate patients recovering from a heart attack. Patients, coming to the counseling, who were mainly men of working age, could find no peace. They were depressed, eyes filled from time to time with tears. Others were bewildered, were at a loss and did not believe this was happening to them. Of course, at 45-50 years old, one has lots of plans and projects.And all of a sudden, a severe illness strikes — heart attack.The words alone caused people to tremble and feel creepy all over.

According to the instructions, as a doctor psychotherapist and psychiatrist, I was supposed to diagnose mental anomalies and treat them, using medications and psychological interventions.

Different researchers have determined, that even 6-12 months after the heart attack, 90% of the patients are still depressed. The reason for the stubbornness of depression, as observations showed, were united with the loss of the reason for living, the destruction of hopes

In becoming familiar in detail with literature about the mental rehabilitation of patients followinga myocardial infarction, I noticed one tendency, which could be called an escape from reality, distraction and smoothing over the coflicts. Of course, it is important to calm down, but then what? I asked myself these questions very often.

Ibegan to read theteachings ofthe Holy Fathers to all patients interested in it. Welistened tothe Orthodoxchants andmetwith the clergy. To our great joy thecardiologyclinicwas right next toVvedensky Cathedral. Some patientsattended divine services and preparedfor ConfessionandHoly Communion as far as possible. Sometimes a patient happened to gettreatment being invery poor condition. Than he went through the course of rehabilitation. Andbefore he leafthome, he had confessed and had communed. Thank God!

We can distinguishthree following principlesthat characterize the Orthodoxpsychotherapy. The first princilpe is the confession ofthe Orthodox faithbythe specialist himself and his introduction ofitsspiritual purity and truth in healing or consulting. Touching thesoul of the man,the physician shouldnotforgetthat the soul isgodlike, that it isthe image andlikeness of God. The second - is the referencing of work on thebasis of theHoly Fathers. And finally the third principle is the spiritual"filter". The orthodoxdoctors and psychologistsneed to learn tofilter thevariety of methodsand directions ofpsychotherapy, refractthem through their hearts andconvey tothe patient (client) methods that do notharm, but helphis soul.

Opponents say that there could exist no OrthodoxPsychotherapy; a faithful doctor should notimpose his religious beliefs on other peoplebecause other religiousteachings have alsothe right to exist. These questions are rather tough. I’d like to express my opinion about it. In this case the only solution I can see is that if thepsychotherapist trusts in God and he is an Orthodox man, his counsel practicewould be basedon the Christian values. He would not practice anymeditation techniques, hypnotic trances and similar methods thatcausethe destruction of the heart of his patient. It is also clearthat theOrthodox doctor would talkabout faith andspirituality only with those peoplewho wantto hear about it. The faithful doctor is convinced that there exist the only Truthand It isin the HolyOrthodoxy and hewould notofferto "test" tenetsof other faithsand religions. Thusthe Orthodoxdoctor will practice the Orthodoxpsychotherapy.

Psychotherapy asalready definedabove is a specific type ofmedical help, because its theory and practice are focused onhuman soul. In is naturelly that members of the Orthodox Church seek tomake an appointmentto the Orthodoxdoctor. I also shall mentionthat members of the Orthodox Church in Russia are the mainculture-forminglayerof our society and there are millionsof them! We, Ortodox doctors, are constantly told: “You have no right…! You should not…! You try tolimit the science within the framework ofbiblicalconcepts!” But, excuse me, why? If the man of faith comes in for counseling to the faithful doctor, why they should hide theirbeliefs from each other? By the way, sometimes after seeingin office icons and icon lamp a patient asks to tell him about thefaithof the Church. In this case the conversation gets a completely differentcontent.

Psychotherapy can help a man to understand himself better, to understand his spiritualdispensation, to appraise more deeplyparticularconflict situation and to find peace. However, notherapy has the powerto overcomesinsand passions in the soul. Only applying all spiritual efforts to fight with them, man with the help of Lord can win over his passions.

Psychology which lost its soul

I should also say that psychotherapyis closely linkedwith psychology, which forms in many ways the thinking of thetherapist, because it gives an idea ofmentalprocesses in the mind of ahealthy person. For many years,the science of psychologytriedto existwithout God for obvious reasons. When I recall psychology lectures, whichI have attended throughouttheyears of my education, I only have a sadsigh. “You could not see the forest behind the trees” – that phrase vividly describes it. The soul of the man in other words could not glimpse through the tricky terms. Psychotherapeutic techniquesarederived asfrompsychological views on human nature. At the present time threemajorschools dominate inpsychology (not Christian): behaviorism, psychoanalysis andhumanistic psychology.

Behaviorism is based on the proposition that human can and should be regarded as an animal, notable only for verbal behavior. That saidone ofthe founders ofthis branchof psychology, John B.Watson. So it is clear thatbehaviorismis a consistent materialism. Cognitive behavioral therapy is its therapeuticmethod.

Psychoanalysis also considers man asa highly organizedindividual in which its sexualityandaggression predominate. Sigmund Freud was author of the theory ofpsychoanalysis andwas a militant atheist, stated that “religionis a form ofmass insanity”. The psychoanalyticprocessvaguely resembles a confession,butwithout repentance andGod.

Humanistic psychology proclaimed an appeal to the human personality as its main idea. The fundamentaltenets ofthis group ofpsychologists were striving forperfection andself-revelationof personality. In the end these aspirations made thembelieve that the man is the beginningand theendof life, andhis “Self”is at the centerof the Universe.

Priest MichaelNedelskyin his article “Psychotherapy: temptation tosubstitute” wrote the following just about it: “Intelligent tragedy of modern human society consists of considering a man convicted, soreandmortal as a normal person. They deduce fromhis behaviorphilosophical, political andscientific systems, oftenclaiming them to be theabsoluteand comprehensive. Here lies a terriblemistake, and evenmore, we can speak about thedeviation from the universalvaluesthought”. It's as ifsomeone tookout of prisona mad,sore, convicted criminalin chains, examined him asif he was a normal person,and after that made conclusions based on his behaviour and physiological laws about the origin of the manand about the ideal form ofpersonal, family andsocial lives.
Only the Orthodox Churchsees the human beingas like fromGod'spoint of view, in the unityof its existance, since its creation by God,through the Fall, death, resurrectionandimmortality, without resrticting by its insignificanttemporary stayon Earth in a fallen stateof sinandcondemnation.”

From the above we can conclude: like theory like practice. And that is modern psychotherapy. One of the authorsof the Encyclopaedia Britannicainthe 1970s,wrote: “Pour psychology! At firstshe lost its soul,then its psyche, after that its mind andnow itfeels anxiousabout the behavior” Which waywill chooseourscience of psychologyandpsychotherapy? This question stillremains open.

Orthodox psychology

Fr.Sampson Sievers wrote about the importance ofstudying of the Orthodox psychology “The subject “Holypsychology” could analyzethe psychologyof sins, inclination for them, types of their displays,their rootsand origin. It couldunwittinglyteachepastorstobehealers ofsins and vices of penitents, andwould be able toleadby visual demonstration and convincing to repentance, which is not a name awareness of the sins tothe priestin confession, but astate, rebirthof the heart withoffering of fruitof sin awareness.”


“Anyonewho studied scientific psychology(secular), and want tostudy patristicpsychology, shouldbe readyto meet a big difference in between them. Psychologistsin the secular world,beingthemselves mentally-carnalpeople,alwaysstudymentally-carnal people and only in the light of psycho-carnal perspective. They are soabsorbedin the carnal studing, that the study ofpsychic phenomenaby the means ofpsychometricmethods anddifferent machines they consider as the highest achievementof science. This strikingnarrowness ofoutlookandslavish subservienceto the materialisttrend, make of secular psychologist a state convict whose hands and feet arechainedtowheelbarrow. This wheelbarrow we can compare with various"authorities" and "Zeitgeist". They do not give them a chance to seeandbelieve that apart from their classroomsand experimentalinstitutesand offices there yet existanother life where predominates freedom ofspiritual thought and where life is filled witheternalradianceof the dayandthe fragranceof heavenlyrevelations...

Patristicpsychology is dynamic and extremely lively. It considers the caseon a large scale of eternal fluid spirit- the spirit, passedmaterialism, torn shacklesandfettersof the world andstrugglewith theirpassionsand. Psychologists do not know anddo not suspectanyof those feelings, or sentiments burning the ascetic. They even do not study the movementof their own passions like pride, vanity and disbelief and concupiscence.  But what could be seemed more simplerand natural?

Patristicpsychology-is a revelationof a new life. It is a penetrationinsuchplacesanddepths of the the humanspirit which none of psychologist can handle even using all his delicate “instruments”. Penetration into the study ofpatristicpsychologyit like anentry into thevastandboundlessseaof spiritual revelations.

Thus, scientists see in mind, feeling and will only sinful and unnatural aspect, which is.  however, normal for them.

The Holy Fathers when discussing reasonable, irritable and active forcesof the soul, reason not only about the soul of the carnal natural man, but also aboul the soul of the man strugglingwith his passions, andeven about the soul of the holy man.They study spiritual life in thethreesections (spiritual, emotional, flesh), and in threesides (capacity), it means withjustnine pointsof view at the same time! I do notmention thenumeroustransitions betweencolorsand nuances. Each of us should keep it inmind whilestudying theasceticwritings.That is the difference betweenasceticismandschool-university psychology.”

Bishop Barnabas(Beliaev)

There are wonderful examples ofpsychological observationsin the works of the Holly Fathers. St. Theophan the Recluse wrote about the man whois notable to controlforces acting within him, the following: “The mind is transcendental, dreamy anddistracted,because it is nothold by heart andby will; the will is wilful and cruel, because it does notlisten to reason anddoes notlook at heart; the heart is irrepressible,blindand blessed, because itdoes not want tofollow the guidanceof reason and is notsobered up bywill.These forceslosttheir mutual assistance, and they also took on ahostileagainst eachother, onedenies the other,consumingand devouring it...

According to St.Theophan: “The inner world of the sinful man is full ofarbitrariness, disorder and destruction”.

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