Katholieke psychotherapie in naoorlogs Nederland | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 131, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163



In Dutch historiography the Terruwe Affair is at the heart of an explanatory narrative which presents the professionalization of religion-based mental health as part of a liberation of Catholics from the clerically-enforced moral regulations and requirements of their Church. The affair culminated in an official warning by the Holy See in 1956 concerning moral standards in the treatment of mental health issues. This warning implicitly identified the academically-trained psychiatrist and psychotherapist Anna Terruwe (1911-2004) as a morally questionable practitioner. This article explores the manner in which Terruwe as a medical professional sought clerical and ecclesiastical approval for her psychotherapeutic practice. She embedded her psychotherapy in an ecclesiastically-approved theoretical framework, forged professional alliances with influential clerics, and attempted to enhance her professional status by appealing to divine authority. To her mind, her psychotherapeutic practice served the salvation of souls. This approach threatened to blur the already diffuse boundaries between psychotherapy and pastoral care, as her alliances with influential clerics challenged inner-church authority relationships based on differences of gender and state in life. This explains more clearly the official warning issued in 1956, but complicates at the same time earlier historiographical evaluations of Terruwe as a ‘mental liberator’ since she clearly tried to position herself as a psychotherapist operating under the tutelage of her church.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): gender; history of mental health care; religion; the Netherlands
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error