Miss Simona Ciobanu
I was born and raised in the east of Romania, and later on I completed my BA in Psychology from the University of Bucharest, followed by a MA in Psychology from the same university. I then attended the Roman - Catholic Theological Institute where I completed a Master in Faith and Psychology, which emphasized the relations between the disciplines of Theology and Psychology. In addition to my academic career, after graduating in Psychology I pursued a career as an Educational Psychologist working for an International School in Bucharest and before moving to Durham I assumed the role of Executive Director for a Romanian Charity - The Association for Physically Disabled Children.
My interest toward the connection between psychology and theology started during the faculty years, as a result of the fact that the academic study of psychology did not provide the satisfactory answer to questions such as: What is normality? What is the criterion that we need to consider in order to define normality in psychology? Why psychology does not have a whole understanding upon human being? How can we reach to this understanding? etc.
The happy "occurrence"of discovering the patristic writings allowed me to access a different paradigm of "reading" and understanding human being. Besides, my pursued professional life urged me into getting some answers to the problems people face and determined me to engage in the present research. The research grant received from Leventis Foundation made this work possible by allowing to what initially was an idea and individual research to become a structured study and inquiry into the mysteries of human being.
My current research is a comparative study aiming to engage in a dialogue the modern psychotherapeutic theories with the eastern ascetical tradition, with a focus on the collection of writings called Philokalia. The working title is 'Psychological versus Spiritual Illness'. The topics discussed in this research include: a comparison between the two anthropological perspectives upon human being: the psychological and the ascetical one, with an analysis of the terms normality and abnormality as understood by both these fields; the problem of clinical diagnosis and discernment; a comparison of various illnesses such as: anxiety versus fear; depression versus dejection.
Another objective of the present research is to clarify issues around the methodological approach to be used while doing interdisciplinary research in these two fields, with direct applicability to the present work.
Other Research Interests
- Theological Anthropology /Christology
- Psychology of saints
- Children religious thought
- Eastern asceticism
- Psychological and spiritual issues in relation to the political prisons during communism period in Romania.
"On Fear and Anxiety"- Conference on Mental Health and Spirituality, September 2010,Durham.
"Do Children Produce Theological Thought?" Orthodox Research Theological Forum Conference, September 2010, Durham.
"The Parable of The Prodigal Son - a psychological perspective", Patristics Seminar, March 2008, Durham.
"Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs from a Christian Orthodox Perspective"Roman Catholic Theological Institute, March 2007, Bucharest.
"Psychological versus Spiritual Diseases. Similarities and Differences",Roman Catholic Theological Institute, January 2007, Bucharest.
"Is there mental illness?", Roman Catholic Theological Institute, December 2006, Bucharest.