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Schizophrenia Takes Center Stage at Fuller’s Integration Symposium

Published on Friday, March 2, 2012 | 12:05 pm
Richard Josiassen and John Nash


The 42nd Annual Fuller Symposium on the Integration of Psychology and Theology, better known as the Integration Symposium, took place on Fuller’s campus from February 15 through February 17, focusing on this year’s theme, “Schizophrenia and Human Flourishing: Science, Service, Community, and Church.”Each of the event’s three days had a different emphasis-theology, research, and practice. Mental health experts from around the country convened to report on progress in schizophrenia research, paying special attention to the place of religious communities in recovery, care, and flourishing. Special guest Nobel Laureate John Nash offered reflections on his experience as one diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Fuller alumnus Richard Josiassen, an organizer of the event and professor at Drexel University, delivered a lecture on Wednesday entitled “A Neuroscience Spin on the Imago Dei-Implications for the Illness of Schizophrenia.” Josiassen lamented the way that “our culture has begun to dismantle the mental health system,” noting that people with mental illness are three times more likely to be found in the criminal justice system than in a hospital. “It’s as if we turned the clock back a hundred years,” he said.

For Josiassen, organizations where individuals can find support and friendship-like churches-are crucial for the schizophrenic community. “We need a personalized, preemptive approach,” he said. “We need to create policies for social inclusion, support, and quality care-and recovery must be the primary goal.”

Other lecture topics throughout the symposium included the stigma attached to the illness, the genetics of schizophrenia, and recovery. Panel discussions and Q&A sessions dotted the program, while special events were held each evening, sponsored by the Lee Edward Travis Research Institute, the guiding research body of Fuller Seminary’s School of Psychology. Wednesday evening offered a screening of A Beautiful Mind, the film based on the life of John Nash, followed by a discussion featuring Nash, while on Thursday night symposium attendees were invited to a jazz-fusion concert. On the last night of the symposium, an art show and banquet, featuring John Nash as the keynote speaker, drew over 250 people.

The Integration Symposium is an annual lectureship hosted by the School of Psychology featuring a nationally recognized scholar (or scholars) focusing on a single integrative issue. The symposium is an academic gathering place in which integration can be tackled on an intellectual level. Students are given the opportunity to learn from scholars in many fields concerning the various intersections of theology and psychology. For more information about the symposium and integration at Fuller, visit the integration website.

Photo credit: Tim Berger/Pasadena Sun
Click here to read more about Nash’s visit at Fuller in a recent Pasadena Sun article.

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