Faith and hope

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Objective: The words 'faith' and 'hope' are generally associated with religious discourse, yet they are fundamental human concepts. In the present paper the phenomena of faith and hope and their place in the discourse of psychiatry are explored. Conclusions: The concepts of faith and hope are not explicit in the language of psychiatry. It is suggested that this is a result of the cultural gap that exists between psychiatrists and the Australian community, assisted by a clinical approach that seeks to avoid exploration of the difficult experiences of helplessness and hopelessness. Hope and faith are multilayered phenomena involving a belief about things of which we are uncertain accompanied by an expectancy and/or conviction. Many things in life are uncertain. However, the 'reasonableness' of a belief is an important judgement that psychiatrists make. Hopefulness (genuine hope as compared to false hope) and optimism are associated with positive health outcomes. Hopelessness is associated with poor outcomes. Psychiatrists need to be able to explore issues of hope and faith with patients at times of life crises in order to facilitate adjustment. This can be an important part of the treatment of a depressed or demoralized person.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-168
Number of pages5
JournalAustralasian Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2003


  • Faith
  • Hope
  • Psychiatry

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