75: Hope When Hope Seems Gone—Dr. Aaron Kheriaty

Ours is an age of social disruption, isolation, and atomization. Rates of suicide among young people, rich and poor, along with instances of clinical depression are on the sharp rise since 1999. A dark ennui—call it despair, or melancholia, or depression—has settled into the lives of millions of people.

Sources of community support that used to provide a bullwark against all this “apartness,” such as a vibrant parish at the center of family life and vice versa, mens’ and womens’ social clubs, and a culture that supported the ideals of monogamy, have withered or vanished.

Psychiatrist Dr. Aaron Kheriaty deals with the fall-out of these disruptions every day in his clinical practice and as an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California Irvine where he is also director of the bioethics program.

This is a fascinating exchange of ideas—from social science data, to poetry, to the life witness of the saints to the truths of Scripture—related to helping those suffering maladies that seem to cruelly evacuate hope from the human heart. Very few doctors see the interconnectedness between the order of nature (and nurture) and the order of grace. Aaron Kheriaty is one of them, and he’s downright evangelical about getting the word out about the urgently needed, good old-fashioned hope. He’s also a fine writer who is attuned to the mystery of suffering in a way that is wise and accessible.

The Hail Holy Queen prayer describes the location of our sojourn as “this vale of tears” for good reasons. If you or someone you know has had serious vicissitudes, trials, or setbacks in his or her life, this is a “don’t miss” interview.

 

In this interview, you will learn:

  • Why the worlds of psychiatry and of faith have large areas of overlap and agreement
  • A workable definition of despair and its antidote
  • How the lives of some of the (mentally ill) saints can be a sign of great hope and consolation
  • Why suicide, and examples of triumph over despair, can both be “contagious”
  • The ways in which the Incarnation of God in Christ provides the direct proof of divine accompaniment and healing regarding mental illness and the loss of hope
  • The difference between human hope and the supernatural virtue of hope

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

 

 

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Question of the week:

What is one concrete thing I can do to be an ambassador of hope for someone in my life who may be suffering depression or otherwise feeling despair?

 

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