The Spirit Is Willing But the Flesh Is Weak

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Abstract

Reviews the book, Spiritual Approaches in the Treatment of Women With Eating Disorders by P. Scott Richards, Randy K. Hardman, and Michael E. Berrett (see record 2006-11737-000), noting that those who maintain that spirituality has no definitive place in psychological care will find little use for the book. The authors argue for a theistic approach to spirituality in psychological care. Their approach incorporates what they identify as common core beliefs from the religious backgrounds of most Americans, including Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. Three core beliefs form the foundation of their approach: (a) belief in a personal God, (b) belief that human beings are created by this God, and (c) belief that there is an unseen spiritual process by which God communicates with human beings. The authors have developed these core beliefs into a system of treatment intended to augment evidence-based therapeutic methods. They also compare their system to other treatment approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral and family systems therapies. In addition to focusing specifically on their single theistic approach to spirituality in psychological care, the authors limit their work further to the clinical domain of eating disorders in women and girls. They describe their theistic approach in relation to eating disorders' common concerns. To accomplish this, they present an abbreviated summary of the varying schools of thought about and issues facing most female eating disorder patients. The eating disorder material in this book will not be new to those who have worked with eating disorder patients. The presentation tends to compartmentalize the multidimensional aspects of eating disorders–biological, social/cultural, psychological, and spiritual. Only at the end of the book, in detailed case studies, does one get a sense of how these aspects interact in the development and maintenance of eating disorders. To the authors' credit, the presentation of eating disorder issues is not their primary goal. They present eating disorder issues chiefly to demonstrate the need for and efficacy of their theistic spiritual approach in treating these issues. The authors carefully demonstrate how these eating disorder issues can be addressed, often uniquely, by their theistic approach. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)

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