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Lecture, “Spirituality in Healthcare”

October 4, 2016 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

John Swinton, PhD, Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies, University of Aberdeen
John Swinton.jpg


Spirituality in Healthcare: Just Because It May Be ‘Made Up’ Does Not Mean That It Is Not Real

This presentation explores the extraordinarily diverse concept of “spirituality,” specifically as it relates to healthcare practices. It will suggest that there is no such thing as spirituality. It certainly exists insofar as people use the language of spirituality. But it is not “real” in the way that we might consider a table, a chair or a tree to be real. Rather it is a ‘made up’ concept invented by healthcare researchers and practitioners and intended to help us to think about certain things about human beings and human living that, arguably, have been forgotten by current healthcare systems. In this sense there is no such “thing” as spirituality. Nonetheless, once we “make up” spirituality(s), create “spiritual people” who require “spiritual care” and then enshrine that in our policies and values, the concept of spirituality becomes extremely important and highly significant in terms of good practice. This presentation argues that the ongoing discussions around whether or not spirituality is “real” or otherwise miss the practical point that spirituality may be absolutely necessary even if it is not “real.”

John Swinton, PhD is Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care in the School of Divinity, Religious Studies and Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. He is the Director of Aberdeen University’s Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability, and the Director of the Centre for Ministry Studies. He has a background in mental health nursing and healthcare chaplaincy and has researched and published extensively within the areas of practical theology, mental health, spirituality and human well-being and the theology of disability.  His publications include Dementia: Living in the Memories of God  and  Disability in the Christian Tradition: A Reader.


October 4, 2016
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Duke Hospital Lecture Hall 2002
2301 Erwin Road
Durham, NC 27705 United States
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