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Divine Madness: The Dilemma of Religious Scruples in Twentieth-Century America and Britain

From: Journal of Social History
Volume 42, Number 3, Spring 2009
pp. 581-603 | 10.1353/jsh.0.0152



Religious scruples were a major problem within Roman Catholic circles until the late twentieth century. This article traces the shift from the cure of scruples being seen as the responsibility of religious advisers to them being labled an obsessional-compulsive disorder. Whether penitent or patient, the clash between revelationary truths and scientific ones had a profound impact on sufferers of scrupulosity. There was, however, no clean shift between the Age of Religiosity to the Age of Neurosis: rather, there was an interaction between the two professions, with spiritual advisers proving themselves to be willing to relinquish their grip on the soul while psychiatrists paid their respect to the power of faith.

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