Spiritual Care: What It Means, Why It Matters in Health Care
In his treatise “De Anima (On the Soul),” Aristotle teaches that the “psyche”—the soul—is the full actualization of a person, incorporating the body, the purpose, and ultimately the sum total of the operations of being human.1 For Aristotle, the body and the soul are not different entities, but distinct aspects of the same thing, with the body being the matter and the soul being the meaning or purpose. For a human then, one’s soul is one’s essence and purpose, one’s meaning and significance. Rooted in such articulations of reality, spirituality and medicine have intertwined for millennia. As modern Western medicine evolved, it emphasized a kind of compartmentalized scientific and physiological approach to disease and treatment. Spirituality and its important role within the lives of patients, families, and health care professionals are often overlooked and undervalued. However, since the early 1990s, there has been a renewed interest in research about spirituality and its potential impact on health care.
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