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November 2011
News from the WPA Section on Religion, Spirituality and Psychiatry

The WPA Section on Religion, Spirituality and Psychiatry has been actively participating in different international and national psychiatric meetings in the past six months. The International Symposium on Psychiatry and Religious experience was held on 4-6 November 2010 in Avila, Spain at the University of Mystic-CITES in collaboration with the International Juan J .Lopez-Ibor Foundation, WPA Section on Religion, Spirituality and Psychiatry, and Dutch foundation for Psychiatry and Religion. In this valuable meeting, original research was presented about biology of religious experience and problems in psychiatric training and practice. The last session was an open interactive discussion about the Position Statement Draft and useful remarks were given by those who attended, to be considered in the coming final statement. Also, in Avila, Prof. Okasha and I invited distinguished speakers such as Profs. Pedro Ruiz, Russell D'Souza, and Juan Lopez-Ibor for a symposium at the WPA Regional Meeting in Cairo, 26-28 January 2011. Presentations included the history of religion, relation with science, philosophy and mental health.

The Cairo meeting coincided with the Egyptian Revolution for change. Yet, the attendance was unexpectedly great and our guests were able to view the Tahrir Square from their Hotel in the Center of Cairo. After the revolution, lots of issues in relation to Islamic groups, religious fanatics and Islamic-Christian conflicts came up. During this important period in my country’s life, I am working with other psychiatrists in Television programs and Newspaper Essays to increase the awareness of the scientific and historical background of religion to avoid misuse in political and election pressures on lay people, especially the illiterate.

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