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TV prayer row stirs psychologist outrage

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TV prayer row stirs psychologist outrage
Psychologists say Tuesday's TVE news broadcast distorted the facts. Photo: Mary Hutchison
13:32 CEST+02:00
Spain's national television broadcaster TVE has come under fire for a news segment in which psychologists were misquoted as saying that prayer can help people suffering from the effects of the country's economic crisis.

"Psychologists say visiting an altar can calm you if you are out of work, or are worried about losing your job" said the host of Telediario 2, Marta Jaumandreu, during Tuesday's controversial TVE news segment.

Jaumandreu's words introduced a section of the show which ran with the title "Praying to the saint of the crisis".

This contained footage of devotees of San Expedito — the saint of both urgent and lost causes — in a church in Barcelona.

One of the workers at the church explained to the news programme that since the beginning of the crisis in 2008, more and more people had come to pray.

After this, the journalist narrating the segment continued: "Praying is like crossing your fingers, say psychologists. The only difference is that lighting a candle has a soothing effect."

Psychologist Guillermo Mattioli was then shown saying that clasping your hands in prayer or kneeling could have "a retroactive effect".

But the Madrid Association of Psychologists said on Thursday that broadcaster TVE had distorted the facts.

"Individually and subjectivally, people find consolation where they can," psychologist Pedro Rodríguez told the culture website Vanitas.

"But from the scientific point of view, there is no cause and effect relationship," said Rodríguez.

"I wouldn't recommend praying to anybody," added the doctor.

"I would guide them in other directions. You should analyze people and see the reasons for their situation and then try and help them using the methods of psychology," he added.

The pyschologist interviewed in the piece, meanwhile, said only 10 seconds of a 10-minute interview had been used.

"They completely distorted what I said," argued Guillermo Mattioli.

"I started by saying that when you have done everything possible, you pray or your cross your fingers. People who have relgious beliefs pray, and those who don't cross their fingers."

"But I also affirmed that both of these actions are completely different," Mattioli told Vanitas.

"Crossing your fingers is asking for luck whereas praying is appealing to a divinity, which are two different things," the psychologist explained.

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