*** DEBUG END ***

Dangerous territory for vulnerable patients

26 July 2012


Sir, - I have found the discussions regarding the General Medical Council case involving a doctor and a suicidal patient very disturbing ( News and Comment, 22 June; Letters, 29 June).

I am a parish priest and also someone who sufferers from severe bouts of depression. As I understand it, this case involved a patient who did not have a Christian faith.

I would not like to think anyone was left with the impression, from people such as the Bishop of Dover ( Comment, 22 June), that this approach to offering Christian support to someone in despair is appropriate in any circumstances.

I have recent experience of a severe episode of desperate suicidal depression. I had the misfortune to encounter a psychiatrist who, once she discovered that I was a priest, decided to use faith as an appropriate topic to discuss with me at a therapeutic appointment. I was told that if I believed Jesus loved me, then he could heal me; and that my parishioners might be suspicious of me because they did not know I was suffering.

I was left feeling that I did not love Jesus enough and that I was failing as a priest. In my worst moments, it has been only Jesus and the human hands who do his work on earth (among whom I include GPs, etc.) which have kept me alive. It has not been the strength of my belief in God, but rather God's strength of love for me that offers hope. In a few short words, I felt the psychiatrist had torn away my vocation and my relationship with God.

Of course, I encourage my parishioners to live their faith in their daily lives. However, God has given the medical profession their medical skills to use to his glory, and they must be extremely careful not to use such dangerous and judgemental proselytising, which could prove fatal to a vulnerable patient.


Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear alongside your letter.

Forthcoming Events

6-7 September 2022
Preaching as Pilgrimage conference
From the College of Preachers.

27-28 September 2022
humbler church Bigger God conference
The HeartEdge Conference in Manchester includes the Theology Slam Live Final.

More events

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four* articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)

*Until the end of June: we’re doubling the number of free articles to eight, to celebrate the publication of our Platinum Jubilee double issue.