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When Sickness Heals

The Place of Religious Belief in Healthcare

Siroj Sorajjakool

In When Sickness Heals, Dr. Siroj Sorajjakool draws on more than ten years of studies on health benefits in relation to spirituality, especially focusing on the function of "meaning." He expounds on his theory that healing is primarily the function of meaning, and meaning transcends sickness and even death itself. He concludes that what people ultimately seek in life is the healing of their souls.

Sorajjakool brings many Eastern and Western resources to his conversation on health, meaning, and healing. He incorporates the perspectives of theologians and philosophers like Paul Tillich, Carl Jung, Søren Kierkegaard, Raimundo Panikkar, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and John Macquarrie; as well as references to religious texts, including yin and yang, and alchemy.

A clear, distinct understanding of spirituality in clinical contexts is presented, with an argument for the role of meaning in the healing process, based on evidence that there may be healing even in the face of death. Sorajjakool identifies the transitional processes people may go through as they seek to make sense of their experiences during a health crisis. He suggests an alternative approach to spiritual assessment and provides methods of spiritual care that speak to the soul.

Acknowledgments / ix

Introduction / xi

1. Spirituality: Toward a Definition / 1

2. Religion / 10

3. Illness, Meaning, and Miracles / 21

4. Illness and the Developmental Task / 31

5. Integration in Theology and Religious Symbols / 43

6. Spirituality and Integration in Mental Health / 55

7. Integration: The Case of Søren Kierkegaard / 69

8. Spiritual Assessment / 80

9. Spiritual Care / 88

Appendix 1. Definition of Terms / 101

Appendix 2. Ontology and Spirituality: Raimundo Panikkar, Paul Tillich, and Carl Jung / 105

Appendix 3. Diagnosis of Søren Kierkegaard / 113

Notes / 121

Bibliography / 139

Index / 145