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Davidson, L. (1979). Catholic Patients—Modifications of Technique for a Subculture Based on Sublimation. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 7(4):601-609.

(1979). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 7(4):601-609

Catholic Patients—Modifications of Technique for a Subculture Based on Sublimation

Leah Davidson, M.D.

Currently our Catholic subculture in America is in the process of transition. It is moving away from the old authoritarian model to one of individual responsibility. This requires an understanding of old concepts and terminology and a reevaluation of these in terms of the new values of individualism and its relationship to Catholic religion (Fromm, 1950).

This reevaluation is necessary for both patient and therapist. Since the old culture was based on the “superior” values of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, as exemplified at its most valued by celibate religious orders, it behooves the therapist who is dealing with Catholic patients to become acquainted with this terminology in a clear way, distinguishing social and psychosocial terminology from feeling states as follows:


Abstinence (Oxford English Dictionary): the action of withholding from something or refraining from any appetite.

Continence: self-restraint in the matter of sexual appetite or sexual excess.

Chastity: to be pure from unlawful sexual intercourse.

Celibate: single, decent, morally pure, innocent.

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