Sign or Symptom?

Exceptional Corporeal Phenomena in Religion and Medicine in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Tine Van Osselaer (Editor), Henk De Smaele (Editor), Kaat Wils (Editor),

Series: KADOC-Studies on Religion, Culture and Society 19

Category: History, History 1800-present, Religion

Language: English

DOI: 10.11116/9789461662231

ISBN: 9789461662231

Publication date: March 27, 2017

€34.00 (including 6% VAT)

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Number of illustrations: 20

Illustrations and other content description:
20 b&w illustrations Guaranteed Peer Reviewed Content

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Religion and science on paranormal events
Described as ‘the hand of God’, as ‘pathological’ or even as ‘a clever trick’, exceptional corporeal phenomena such as miraculous cures, stigmata, and incorrupt corpses have triggered heated debates in the past. Depending on their definition as either ‘supernatural’, ‘psycho-somatic’ or ‘fraudulent’, different authorities have sought to explain these enigmatic occurrences by stimulating inquiries and claiming jurisdiction over them. As a consequence, separate ecclesiastic and medical forms of expertise emerged on these issues in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This incommensurability has since echoed in historical analyses of paranormal events. In this book the emphasis is not placed solely on the debates within one or the other epistemological system (science or religion), but also on the crossovers and collaborations between them. Religion and science developed through a process of interaction. A changing religious climate and new religious currents provided new cases for study. Religious phenomena inspired new medical approaches such as the healing power of faith. New medical findings could be adopted to oppose new messiahs and medical imagery came to inspire the campaigns of opponents of aberrant of religious currents. Sign or Symptom? explores how the evolutions within religion and science influenced each other, a productive interaction that has been hidden from view until now.

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

Contributors: Ellen Amster (McMaster University), Nicole Edelman (Université de Paris-Ouest-Nanterre), Maria Heidegger (Universität Innsbruck), Mary Heimann (Cardiff University), Paula Kane (University of Pittsburgh), Sofie Lachapelle (University of Guelph), Tiago Pires Marques (Universidade de Coimbra), Tine Van Osselaer (Universiteit Antwerpen)

Tine Van Osselaer

The Devil in the Madhouse.
On the Treatment of Religious Pathologies in Early Psychiatry, Tyrol, 1830-1850
Maria Heidegger

Gustave Boissarie, Jean-Martin Charcot and Sigmund Freud.
Three Doctors’ Responses to Some Unusual Bodily Phenomena: Convergences and Divergences (in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries)
Nicole Edelman

Prophecies of Pilgrimage.
The Rise and Fall of Marie Bergadieu, the Ecstatic of Fontet
Sofie Lachapelle

Medical and Mystical Opinion in British Catholicism.
The Contentious Case of Teresa Higginson
Mary Heimann

Disenchanted America.
Accounting for the Lack of Extraordinary Mystical Phenomena in Catholic America
Paula Kane

The Mad Saint as Healer.
The Islamic Majnun in al-Kattani’s Salwat al-Anfas and in French Colonial Medicine and Sociology
Ellen J. Amster

Experiencing Religion and Medicine.
Marian Apparition and Victim Souls in Portugal, 1910-1950
Tiago Pires Marques

A Question of Competence and Authority.
Lay Views on the Medical Examinations of the Marian Apparition Series in 1930s Belgium
Tine Van Osselaer


Tine Van Osselaer

Tine Van Osselaer is research professor at Universiteit Antwerpen (Ruusbroec Institute).

Henk De Smaele

Henk de Smaele is professor of history at the University of Antwerp.

Kaat Wils

Kaat Wils is professor of European cultural history since 1750 at KU Leuven.

Een panel van internationale academici buigt zich in deze studie over de banden tussen religie en psychiatrie in diverse contexten: hoe werden religieuze pathologieën benaderd in instellingen, mystiek versus geneeskunde in Engeland, mariale verschijningen in Portugal enzovoort. Een merkwaardige studie over een merkwaardig onderwerp dat ook vele banden heeft met België, te beginnen met Pierre De Rudder in Oostakker., 23/7/2017

Academici blikken in ‘Sign or Symptom?’ terug op twee eeuwen onderzoek naar onder meer stigmata en wonderbaarlijke genezingen. Zowel kerkelijke instanties als wetenschappers hebben in die vermeende tekenen van God vaak symptomen van psychische stoornissen gezien.
Jan Brouwers, Tertio 935, 10 januari 2018

Aquí radica, esencialmente, el gran logro —entendido como contribución colectiva— de este fascinante libro, cuya lectura es muy pertinente para historiadores de la ciencia y de la medicina, investigadores de los fenómenos religiosos, profesionales de la salud y científicos sociales.Angel Martínez Hernáez, Dynamis 2018; 38 (1): 255-279

'This is an invaluable collection of essays on a topic that digs deeply into issues of great human importance, asking what “exceptional corporeal phenomena” might mean and how we might understand and possibly make use of them. It provides the historical perspective we need to dig down on the mind-body problem and the actual possibility of “miracles.” '
Michael Grosso, Reading Religion, 7 August 2018

This interesting collection of essays arose from a workshop held at Leiden in 2013. It is a welcome contribution to the growing number of studies connecting religion to medicine in the modern era. [...] the stories are truly engaging and the editorial work is superb, with convenient, concise footnotes that relate to a common bibliography and an index of proper names (but not ideas). As a whole, Sign or Symptom? stands as an engaging invitation to contemplate the power of microhistory in understanding the interplay of science and faith.Jacalyn Duffin, Isis, volume 109, number 2, june 2018

Skillnaden mellan vetenskapligt och religiöst grundade epistemologier under 1800- och 1900-talen har diskuterats i vetenskapshistoriska framställningar och då inte sällan överbetonats. Boken Sign or Symptom? visar att denna tendens till tudelning av de två epistemologiska systemen är överdriven. Det tycks snarast som att de kompletterade varandra än utgjorde varandras motpoler. De exceptionella kroppsliga fenomen som står i centrum i antologin utgör ett utomordentligt väl lämpat – och spännande – undersökningsområde för att få syn på detta. Antologins huvudtitel är således retorisk. Under den epok som bokens bidrag behandlar rörde det sig inte om en motsättning mellan religion och medicin – om tecken eller symtom – utan om att en religiös neuros kunde uppfattas som både och, det vill säga både som ett tecken på en religiös erfarenhet och som ettsymtom på en medicinskt förklarlig åkomma.Alexander Maurits, Kyrkohistorisk årsskrift 2020

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