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Taking Our Meds Faithfully? : Christian Engagements with Psychiatric Medication
Presented by the Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative at Duke Divinity School, with the generous support of the McDonald Agape Foundation
Medications for mental health problems are deeply ingrained in American culture. US sales of psychiatric medication exceeded $70 billion in 2010, and nearly 1 in 5 American adults take at least one psychiatric medication. Antidepressants rival cholesterol and pain drugs as the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States.
But what does it mean to take medication faithfully? How should Christians approach the prescription and use of psychiatric medication? For many people, medications reduce suffering, enable recovery, and are sometimes lifesaving. But how do medications, and the way that we talk about mental illness in an age of medications, shape the way that we understand suffering? How do medications shape the ways that we think about our bodies in relationship to technology, that we understand human agency, that we approach the relationship between the “physical” and the “spiritual,” and that we engage social contexts (such as racism and unemployment) that contribute to mental health challenges?
Over two days, a group of scholars, practitioners, people who live with mental illness, and others will engage in roundtable conversation about what it means to engage psychiatric medications faithfully, in the context of Christian faith and practice. Two questions will frame the conversation. First, how can Christians understand the relation of the body, the person, and agency in a way that informs appropriate use of psychiatric medication? And second, what are the theological and moral goods toward which psychiatric prescribing should be directed, and what are its roles and limits?
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Jeffrey Bishop, MD, PhD; Director, Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics; Tenet Chair of Health Care Ethics; Saint Louis University
Susan Eastman, MDiv, PhD; Associate Research Professor of New Testament, Duke Divinity School
Warren Kinghorn, MD, ThD; Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center; Associate Research Professor of Pastoral and Moral Theology, Duke Divinity School; Staff Psychiatrist, Durham VA Medical Center
Ryan Lawrence MD, MDiv. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center and New York – Presbyterian Hospital
PDF of Ryan Lawrence Presentation
Therese Lysaught, PhD; Professor, Institute of Pastoral Studies, Loyola University Chicago
John Swinton, PhD (Aberdeen), RMN (Registered Mental Nurse), RNMD (Registered Nurse for People with Learning Disabilities); Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies, University of Aberdeen, Scotland
“Out of Our Meds” Conference Series:
Through the generous support of the McDonald Agape Foundation, “Taking Our Meds Faithfully: Christian Engagements with Psychiatric Medication” is the first of four annual conferences that will engage moral and theological approaches to prescription medication use.
Questions for future conferences will include the following:
2018: What does it look like to prescribe and to take psychiatric medications wisely?
2019: “Do not be anxious about your body:” How is medical management of risks to future health compatible with Christian discipleship?
2020: Is pharmacological risk management good medicine?