Sin and Madness The Psychopathology of the Deadly Sins Publication date : January 16, 2014
Jean Adès is a professor of psychiatry and chief of psychiatry at Louis-Mourrier Hospital, in Colombes, near Paris. He is a former president of the French Society of Alcohology.
What does psychiatry have in common with the Christian concept of sin? At first glance, not much. Yet in their practice psychiatrists regularly encounter gluttony, pride, greed, sloth, envy, wrath and lust. And it is the language of psychiatry that enables them to describe and analyse these characteristics — without, of course, making moral judgments.
What sort of psychic suffering do such ‘deadly sins’ refer to? Sloth may hide depression, a mental illness that was often disregarded in the past and for which the sufferer was generally held responsible, with the result that treatment was delayed or withheld. Lust may conceal a sexual addiction, a form of dependence that can benefit from psychiatric treatment. And isn’t envy often the result of a poor self-image?
This fascinating approach to psychic disorders incites us to go beyond common-sense psychology, so as to understand the complex reality of mental pathologies.
• A widely accessible exploration of the main mental illnesses, in the light of the ‘deadly sins’.
• An original angle of approach to some issues of psychiatry.