email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God50 Voices of DisbeliefA Companion to Buddhist PhilosophyA Companion to Muslim EthicsA Frightening LoveA People's History of ChristianityAdieu to GodAn Ethics for TodayAristotle's ChildrenAugustine's "Confessions"Bad FaithBehind the GospelsBig DreamsBig GodsBody Piercing Saved My LifeBrains, Buddhas, and BelievingBrief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and FaithBuddhism and ScienceBuddhist Boot CampConfucianismConfucianismConfucius and ConfucianismContemplative ScienceCorporal Punishment, Religion, and United States Public SchoolsCourage to SurrenderCross and KhoraDarwin's Gift to Science and ReligionDarwin, God and the Meaning of LifeDeath and the AfterlifeDebating DesignDeeper Than DarwinDivinity of DoubtEmbracing MindEncountering the DharmaEngaging BuddhismEsalenEscape Your Own PrisonEvidence for PsiEvilEvolution and ReligionExplorations in Neuroscience, Psychology and ReligionFaithFaith and Wisdom in ScienceFingerprints of GodFor The Bible Tells Me SoForgivenessFrom Shame to SinGod & TherapyGod Is Not GreatGod Is Not OneGod: The Failed HypothesisHereticHidden DimensionsHooked!Hours with the MysticsHow to See Yourself As You Really AreHow Would Buddha Act?Incorporating Spirituality in Counseling and PsychotherapyInto Great SilenceIslam and the Future of Tolerance: A DialogueJewish DharmaLife After FaithLiving DeeplyLiving with a Wild GodLiving with DarwinMaking Chastity SexyMedicine and Health Care in Early ChristianityMedicine and ReligionMedicine of the PersonMysticism & SpaceNature and the Human SoulNothingOn Life After DeathPanpsychism and the Religious AttitudePathways to SpiritualityPeaceful Death, Joyful RebirthPhilosophers without GodsPhilosophical Myths of the FallPorn UniversityPray the Gay AwayPsychotherapy without the SelfRadical GraceReason, Faith, and RevolutionRecruiting Young LoveReligion without GodReligious and Spiritual Issues in Psychiatric DiagnosisSaving GodScience and NonbeliefScience and Religion at the CrossroadsScience and SpiritualityScience vs. ReligionSecular Philosophy and the Religious TemperamentSelf Hypnosis for Cosmic ConsciousnessSelf, No Self?Sex and the Soul, Updated EditionSmile of the BuddhaSpirit, Mind, and BrainSuperstitionTen Lectures on Psychotherapy and SpiritualityThe Accidental MindThe Belief InstinctThe Bodhisattva's BrainThe Cambridge Companion to AtheismThe Cambridge Companion to Science and ReligionThe Case for GodThe Chosen OneThe Dao of NeuroscienceThe Dark Night of the SoulThe Delight of Being OrdinaryThe Fundamentalist MindsetThe God DebatesThe God GeneThe Hero with a Thousand FacesThe Improbability of GodThe Joy of SecularismThe Language God TalksThe Language of GodThe MiracleThe New AtheismThe New Religious IntoleranceThe Philosophy of ReligionThe Power of FaithThe Power of ForgivenessThe Power of Religion in the Public SphereThe Psychology of Religious FundamentalismThe Psychology of SpiritualityThe Puppet and the DwarfThe Secular OutlookThe Sense of SelfThe Spirit of the BuddhaThe Spirit of Tibetan BuddhismThe Tibetan Book of the DeadThe Trauma of Everyday LifeThe Watkins Dictionary of Religions and Secular FaithsThe Watkins Dictionary of SymbolsTheology, Psychology and the Plural SelfThoughts Without A ThinkerTop SecretUnifying HinduismWays of KnowingWhat Is Buddhist Enlightenment?What Should I Believe?When the Impossible HappensWhy I Left, Why I StayedWilliam James on Ethics and FaithWriting as a Sacred PathYoga, Karma, and RebirthZealot
Paul Tournier was a French physician who in the mid 20th century initiated a movement called "medicine of the person". Tournier was a Christian who sought to integrate Christianity and Biblical reflection into the practice of medicine, and in so doing to place considerations of the person at the heart of medical care. In Medicine of the Person a group of theologians, doctors and academics take up Tournier's challenge to consider what medicine of the person might mean in the 21st century. Not all of the fourteen chapters directly address Tournier's work, but all focus on some aspect of medicine with a view to showing how it might benefit from broader perspectives based on culture, ethnicity and faith. There are three sections to the book. The first examines Tournier's writings and the movement of medicine of the person, the second covers non-Christian faith perspectives and the third focuses on contemporary practice. Overall, readers gain an introduction to the ideas of Paul Tournier and of Christian medical practice, and an overview of some of the issues in the relationship between medicine and religious spirituality.
I found the sections on Paul Tournier the most interesting. Tournier was certainly an remarkable and energetic individual whose ideas seem consistent with much of the postwar philosophical movement towards re-establishing the centrality of meaning in human experience. I was reminded of Viktor Frankl, and his very different approach to exploring human potential. Like Frankl, Tournier was a visionary, rather driven in pursuit of his ideals, and radical in some of his practices. For example he would invite patients to his house for evening chats following consultations, where he would talk issues through with them, encouraging them to explore the deeper meaning of the complaints they brought to his surgery. It is hard to imagine a doctor adopting such a practice these days, and not only because of pressure of time. Questions would be asked about the propriety of it, not to mention of the proper boundaries of medicine. But as with much of the novel psychotherapy of the mid-century, a lot was accepted on the basis of the good intent of the practitioner. We live in more skeptical times.
Christian medical practice is a strong theme within this book. This is taken up in theoretical explorations of how Christian practice is different to secular ideas of values based medicine, and in relation to a variety of clinical contexts, including public health, home health care and neuroscience. The focus is not limited to Christianity, however, and there is a chapter on how English mental health policy is expanding to include considerations of spirituality. For non-Christians the emphasis on Christianity might seem to have limited importance as it is not something that can be adopted like a new clinical intervention. Commitment to a personal relationship with God, especially one mediated through a singular historical figure, is an individual matter and the idea of medicine and the person therefore raises issues of who can participate in such a movement. Tournier was apparently catholic in his spiritual beliefs, but there is no question that medicine of the person is a Christian movement.
The four chapters of the middle section of the book extend the discussion to different faiths, with an initial chapter on theology of diversity followed by chapters on the Jewish, Islamic and Hindu faiths. I found these chapters rather basic, important as it is to recognize multiple faiths. Within the limitations of space the authors were able to do little more than provide an introductory overview, with fairly straightforward examples of religious practices that require openness and tolerance from health professionals. This section wasn't strongly related to Tournier's work. I had reservations, too about other chapters, such as the one on neuroscience, which made extensive use of italics in a rather didactic style.
Overall Medicine of the Person is an interesting book, especially for bringing to light a rather obscure figure. As part of a more general exploration of the place of spirituality in health care the book contributes to a growing recognition that health problems should not be seen in isolation. With emotional and social life having been accepted as part of "the person", and with the place of culture and ethnicity widely acknowledged, it is time for spirituality to come in from the cold.
© 2009 Tony O'Brien
Tony O'Brien RN, MPhil., Senior Lecturer, Mental Health Nursing, University of Auckland, New Zealand, email@example.com
Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology.
We feature over 7800 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and
We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.
Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'
Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send
review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank
you for your support!
Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these
announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click
Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers
for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.
Metapsychology Online Reviews
Promote your Page too
Metapsychology Online Reviews