Studying Communicating Spiritual Pain As If It Were a New Medicine

About a month ago, the Wall Street Journal published a story about Joel Nightingale Berning, a non-denominational chaplain at New York-Presbryterian/Columbia University Medical Center who has designed a communication board so that patients who are on ventilators can indicate if and how much and what sort of spiritual distress they might be under as well as suggesting what might comfort them.

As medical science has abandoned keeping Intensive Care Unit patients heavily sedated to be as awake and alert, patients are all too aware of their circumstances and often their chances of survival and experience considerable emotional and spiritual pain.

Berning’s board – developed in tandem with a Zen Buddhist buddy  – is covered in notated icons indicating the levels and types of distress and possible methods of relief: receiving a blessing, having a prayer recited, calling for a minister of the faith they’re an adherent of etc.

Meanwhile, the hospital has been conducting a study of the efficacy of this practices “as it it were a new medicine. The study shows that the patients’ anxiety is reduced by about 30% by a session with the chaplain and his communication board. Of patients who survived their stay in ICU 81% “felt more at peace” while 71% felt “more connected with what is sacred.”

Now if we could only get them to upgrade the board with some Thelema-friendly iconography!

Read the entire article

Here’s a link to a company now mass producing this board:

Frater Lux Ad Mundi

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