Thursday, May 17th, 18:45 - 20:00
Dr. med. Eckhard Frick SJ
Professorship of Spiritual Care, Medical Faculty,
University of Munich, Munich/Germany
Major life stressors impact people not only physically, emotionally, and socially, but also spiritually. At times, these stressors can lead to spiritual struggles. Spiritual struggles have been defined as tensions and conflicts about sacred matters within oneself, with others, or with the divine.
Spiritual struggles are not signs of a weak faith or spiritual immaturity. Indeed, many of the world’s greatest religious figures experienced periods of spiritual struggle in their lives. Spiritual struggles are, instead, a natural and normal part of spiritual development.
In recent years, investigators have begun to study spiritual struggles and their implications for health and well-being. This emerging research points to several initial conclusions.
This leads to the final conclusion -- whether spiritual struggles lead to growth or decline may depend on the degree to which the individual has a well-integrated spirituality. Elements of a well-integrated spirituality include:
(a) a concept of the sacred that is large enough to help people come to terms with life shattering events (b) a spirituality that is flexible and open to change, and (c) access to a spiritual network that provides support rather than stigma for individuals struggling with their spirituality
This paper concludes with a review of some of the promising clinical efforts to help people address their spiritual struggles before they lead to health-related problems.