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Seminars, Lectures & Study Days

Integrating Spiritual and Scientific Perspectives to Psychological Wellbeing

by Dr Fraser Watts, Visiting Professor of Psychology and Religion, University of Lincoln

Thursday 1 February 2018 (4.30-6pm)
Spirituality, Theology & Health seminar series (Durham University)

This seminar took place in Seminar Room B (D/TH004, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

To watch the Lecture, please click on the video below:


The question of how to integrate spiritual and scientific perspectives on mental health can be seen as a special case of the general question of how to relate religion and science. A spiritual approach is relevant to what counts as a problem of mental wellbeing, as well as to understanding particular problems of wellbeing. Some have seen spiritual and scientific perspectives as separate and unconnected; or as incompatible, so requiring a choice between them. I will take them as distinct, but complementary perspectives. A complexity is that the spiritual approach to mental health is itself a hybrid. It can be part of a broader scientific approach to mental health; but it can also represent a completely different approach to mental health. These issues are further complicated by current debates about whether problems of mental health, especially psychosis, should be understood in medical or in psychosocial terms. A case study of integrating neurological and spiritual approaches to wellbeing will be presented.


Fraser Watts was formerly Reader in Theology and Science in the University of Cambridge, where he was Director of the Psychology and Religion Research Group and a Fellow of Queens’ College. He is also a former President of the British Psychological Society and of the International Society for Science and Religion. He is now Executive Secretary of the International Society for Science and Religion and a Visiting Professor at the University of Lincoln.

His books include Theology and Psychology (Ashgate, 2002); Psychology for Christian Ministry (with Rebecca Nye and Sara Savage, Routledge, 2002); Forgiveness in Context (ed. with Liz Gulliford, T & T Clark, 2004); Jesus and Psychology (DLT, 2007); Spiritual Healing: Scientific and Religious Perspectives (CUP, 2011); Head and Heart: Perspectives from Religion and Psychology (ed. with G. Dumbreck, Templeton Press, 2013;) Evolution, Religion and Cognitive Science: Critical and Constructive Essays (edited with L Turner, OUP, 2014); Psychology, Religion and Spirituality (CUP, 2017).