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Letters to the Editor
Definitions of Soul
Psychiatric News
Volume 46 Number 5 page 29-29

To my dismay, I came upon the article about Thomas Moore, Ph.D., titled "Patients' Souls Called Medicine's Missing Link" in the December 3, 2010, issue.

Moore is going backward in time and methodology beyond even Freud, who to his credit today could point to biological correlates of id (amygdala) and ego/superego (PFC) to the "whole world of knowledge and wisdom outside the biological tradition that goes back several thousand years."

The author of the article wrote that "Moore speaks of the soul as where one cradles the meaning of one's relationships and memories, the sense of mystery about one's own life, and one's understanding of the meaning of illness and death."

If this is what Moore means by "soul," well and good. These are certainly appropriate subjects for psychotherapy or to sell simplistic but lucrative books to the credulous. But this is an unusual definition of "soul," which commonly implies a supernatural entity that is present before and after death, and during life, in some theologies that include belief in resurrection, transmigration, and reincarnation. A soul is usually thought of as stemming from a divine power and is as unverifiable, and unfalsifiable, as God, or as Ch'i.

If this is Moore's theology, O.K. I thought irrelevant entities had expurgated by Occam's razor by the Middle Ages!

NEWTON D. BOWDAN, M.D.
South Hadley, Mass.

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