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Heydt, V.V. (1970). The Treatment of Catholic Patients. J. Anal. Psychol., 15(1):72-80.

(1970). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 15(1):72-80

The Treatment of Catholic Patients

Vera Von Der Heydt

A High Proportion of my patients are Roman Catholics; non-Catholic colleagues and several priests send me most of them. They all know that I am a Catholic myself; they are invariably told by whoever refers them to me, and they always express their relief at being able to talk to someone of their own faith—even if they belong to the kind commonly called non-practising or lapsed.

Catholics are a minority group in this country who were feared and attacked at one time; they still feel themselves to be attacked. Not all Catholics think alike, nor do they all believe the same thing: there are differences of approach at a national level: English, Irish and Scottish Catholics differ from one another, quite apart from individual differences. They find it difficult to speak to non-Catholics about matters pertaining to their faith, because out of loyalty to the Church individuals defend indefensible positions and thereby give the impression of complete solidarity. It is also believed that a non-Catholic analyst would have no knowledge of the teachings and customs of the Church and that he would react automatically in a hostile manner to anyone who held them.

There is some paranoia in these beliefs, which also contain a grain of truth. It happened even to Jung that his Protestant ancestors and his upbringing clouded his understanding of Catholic mentality. He made some remarks which affected analysis of Catholics in a general way, and which may have had a bearing on treatment.

In Psychotherapists or the Clergy Jung writes: ‘Many hundreds of patients have passed through my hands, the greater number being Protestants, a lesser number Jews, and not more than five or six believing Catholics’ (1932 C.W., 11, p. 334). The word ‘believing’ is a mistranslation; the correct word is ‘practising’ (praktizierende); it is a technical term: it means that a person is fulfilling his religious obligations by going to Mass on Sundays, and to Confession and Communion at least once a year at Easter time. Furthermore, there are customs like fasting or abstaining from eating meat

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