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Mysticism, psychiatry and integral health: a course co-organized by the Fernando Rielo Foundation and the UIMP-Valencia

By 23 September, 2017January 2nd, 2023No Comments
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“The essence of mysticism is love, which empowers human beings and immunizes them against pseudo-religious trends and psychological and spiritual pathologies.” These were the opening words of the course on Mysticism and Psychiatry, spoken by Jesus Fernández Hernández, President of the Fernando Rielo Foundation. The course was held from 18 to 20 September and co-organized with the Menéndez Pelayo-Valencia International University. During the closing session, Fernando de Saavedra, Head of the Cabinet of the Rector of the UIMP, thanked the FFR for their work, and then Vicente Botella, Dean of the Faculty of Theology San Vicente Ferrer, expressed his desire to continue collaborating and supporting the initiative.

To sum up, the seminar has explored how the mystical experience empowers the human person in all spheres: the transcendent dimension, the relational, educational, cultural, artistic aspects, as well as social relations, and social and ecological commitment. In addition, it was shown that mysticism promotes integral health and has nothing to do with psychic disorders or psychiatric illnesses, as has sometimes been said.

The Head of the Philosophy Department of the FFR, Juana Sánchez-Gey, opened the course with a presentation of the psycho-ethics of Fernando Rielo as a new science that unites the psychological and moral dimensions of the person, as entirely linked. Psycho-ethics is based on the opening of man to the Absolute, which constitutes him, and it states that human fulfilment is based on living this relationship, the key to communication with others and with nature.

“Mindfulness” and its confusion with contemplative prayer was the subject dealt with by the psychiatrist Mar Álvarez, professor at the university U. Abat Oliba CEU. He spoke of the agnosia of the inner life and of the fact that we live in the age of narcissism, where man is a stranger to himself.

Jesús Fernández, president of the FFR, held a seminar on the reading and analysis of texts and explained that “the denial of religiosity or mysticism as a constituent of the human person leads directly to the idolatrous attitude.” He also referred to spiritual disorders or illnesses such as egolatry and egophrenia, which make the human person a mask or caricature of his own myself as myself.

Martín F. Echavarría, Head of the Department of Psychology of the university U. Abat Oliba CEU, explained the relationship between “Acidia, melancholia, Saint John of the Cross and psychopathology” and affirmed that mystical life is the development of the Christian life in depth, and that progressing in love produces the growth of the spiritual relationship.

The round table on “Therapies of the spirit” was about mysticism as the art of living to the full, in words of the psycho-pedagogue Marián Alegre, as well as about the need for contemplation in the face of the centrifugal dimension that drives society today, as explained by Alfredo Esteve, professor at the Catholic University of Valencia (UCV).

Vicente Botella Cubells, on the other hand, focused on human freedom for the encounter with God and how man has been ‘trained’ culturally to perceive some things and not others, like the divine solicitations.

José María López, president of the Idente School, closed the course with his lecture “Conscience and Neurosis” in which, while developing Rielo’s thought, he explained the mystical character of our conscience by virtue of the divine constitutive presence of the Absolute in the human spirit, defining him as a person, that is, a being of the highest dignity, in the image and likeness of God. He affirmed that mysticism is an experience of love, a finite love open to infinity, and that one cannot reduce mysticism to extraordinary phenomena alone. Mystical life is everything positive, both spiritual and human, that happens in the person; it is, in short, to close one’s eyes or heart to selfishness and open them to love. In addition, because of the integral nature of the person, it is necessary to distinguish between physical, psychological and spiritual therapies, with their own objects and objectives. He also spoke of the syndromes, symptoms and signs of neurosis, as understood by Rielo, and of the traumas that such neurosis presents in the spirit with their projection in the psychosoma. He concluded saying that the “therapy of the conscience” or syneido-therapy, far from reductionism, is the one that provides unity, direction and meaning to all other therapies.