Item 1604 - Boisen and the case method: roots of the case method in the work of Richard Cabot

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CA ON00389 1-9-1-1604

Title

Boisen and the case method: roots of the case method in the work of Richard Cabot

Date(s)

  • Winter 1977 (Creation)

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21 p. of textual records

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(1932-1996)

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This item is a 21 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Boisen and the Case Method’, published in The Chicago Theological Seminary Register, Boisen Centennial Issue, Winter 1977, Vol. LXVII No.1. The first section entitled ‘ Roots of the Case Method in the work of Richard Cabot’, outlines Boisen’s meeting with Dr Richard C. Cabot, MD at the Andover Theological Seminary. Nouwen states, ‘The meeting of Cabot and Boisen not only made the start of the clinical training movement possible, but also offered him the model for the theology through living human documents’. Nouwen discusses Cabot’s teaching and training methods and his idea for a clinical year for theological students. Nouwen discusses Cabot’s Clinicopathological Conferences. This work and the volume which resulted from it ‘gave Boisen the clue for much of his later work: the case study method. This method moved from the theoretical learning found in seminaries to the ‘investigation of living human documents’. When Boisen moved to be Chaplain at the Worcester State Hospital he insisted that he be allowed to do research and to have ‘free access to the case records, the right to visit patients on all the wards, to attend staff meetings where the cases being discussed and to be recognized as part of the therapeutic team’. Nouwen suggests that this was the beginning of the acceptance of Chaplains as an important part of the therapeutic program for patients. Nouwen describes Boisen’s core idea for the use of the case system, ‘that certain types of mental disorder and certain types of religious experience are alike attempts at reorganization…’ Nouwen then speaks of Boisen’s limitations in his understanding and use of the case system as relating to his own personal experience of mental illness. He then outlines a case history of ‘Jonah’ that Boisen frequently used in his teaching and as a tool for training. In conclusion, Nouwen says, ‘ …his idea of training is based on the theoretical principle that theology should derive it authority not from books, but as in every science worth of its name, from observable and controllable data…[Boisen says] I wanted them to learn to read human documents as well as books’.

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Preservation photocopy available in Articles by Nouwen Access Copy Box 1.

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It is indicated at the beginning of the journal that the Nouwen article is 'drawn from a longer manuscript on Boisen by the author'. See: Henri Nouwen Fonds- Manuscripts and articles- which consists of a draft manuscript of an unpublished book by Nouwen on Anton Boisen based on Nouwen's thesis. 1966 - 1968. Box 1, File No. 01-1 01-2.

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Publication note

Published in The Chicago Theological Seminary Register 67, no. 1 (winter 1977): 12-32.

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Accession Number

2000 01

Location

Box 295

Previous Item Number

20-75

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