Nutty History

CPE Co-Founder?

In the mid 1920s, the new form of theological education known as Clinical Pastoral Education developed out of the risk-taking of Dr. William A. Bryan, Superintendent of the Worcester State Hospital, Worcester, MA when he employed Rev. Anton T. Boisen, a former mental patient, to become the hospital chaplain. Thus the research interests of this Congregational /Presbyterian (he called himself Presbygational) minister became the motivation that initiated clinical pastoral education. Anton Boisen had been hospitalized for psychotic breaks from 1920 to 1922, and during the hospitalization, he felt a calling to “break down the dividing wall between religion and medicine.” He believed that certain types of schizophrenia could be understood as attempts to solve problems of the soul. He invited four students, to spend the summer of 1925 with him at the hospital. One of the four, Helen Flanders Dunbar, subsequent a pioneer in the field of psychosomatic medicine, came as a research assistant. Dr. Flanders Dunbar later became the Medical Director of the organization of clinical programs called the Council for Clinical Pastoral Training of Theological Students in New York City.

Read more at CPE History.

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