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Jose Nguyen
Jose Nguyen

Encyclopedia Of Psychology And Religion 2021

Entries drawn from forty different religious traditions, including modern world religions (e.g. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism) and older religious movements (e.g. African Animism, Egyptian, Greek, Gnostic, Native North American religions)

Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

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"Written by a vast array of prominent experts, this multidisciplinary reference work is an authoritative and trusted source of information for all researchers and professionals interested in the fields of psychology and religion and their intersection. This encyclopedia is a milestone achievement of special interest to all those who wish to understand all aspects of the growing reintegration of psychology and religion."-Harold G. Koenig, MD, Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Associate Professor of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC

"This remarkable encyclopedia will be a great asset for anyone interested in psychology and religion. Its range is impressive, the editing meticulous, and the mix of long and short entries makes the result more useful and appropriate for exploring topics in this field. I warmly commend the editors for their herculean efforts in producing this encyclopedia."-Charles B. Strozier, Ph.D., Professor of History, John Jay College and the Graduate Center, The City University of New York

"Over the past several decades, the psychology and religion field has achieved a welcome independence from the more traditional enterprise of theology and psychological studies, and the brightness of its future is reflected in the many books and journal articles being written and published today. The appearance of this Encyclopedia is especially timely, for an encyclopedia provides invaluable information about the nature and scope of a field of studies that is inaccessible in any other way. The Co-Editors and the publisher deserve our profoundest thanks!"-Donald Capps, Ph.D., William Harte Felmeth Professor of Pastoral Psychology, Princeton Theological Seminary"I welcome the publication of the Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion as the primary reference source for scholars, researchers, clinicians, and religious practitioners working within or across these fields. It is sure to meet a growing need for an integrated understanding of the relationship between spirituality and psychology across cultures, disciplines, and faiths. I look forward to using the Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion to support both my academic research and clinical work in the area of spirituality and mental health."-Jo Nash, Ph.D., MA, BA(Hons), PGDipEd, Lecturer in Mental Health, University of Sheffield, UK

"An extremely useful volume, this encyclopedia will be an invaluable aid to teachers in colleges, seminaries, and universities and should be made available to their students who will find themselves referring to it again and again. Exceptionally comprehensive." - James W. Jones, Psy.D., Ph.D., Th.D., Professor of Religion and Adjunct Professor of Clinical Psychology, Rutgers University; Lecturer in Psychiatry and Religion, Union Theological Seminary

Whatever their focus, the field's proponents have together pursued three related projects: (1) systematically describing religion, both as inner experience and outer expression, with the goal of clarifying religion's essential characteristics; (2) explaining the origins of religion, in history and in individual lives, and thereby illuminating its fundamental nature; and (3) tracing out the consequences of religious ideas, attitudes, experiences, and practices, both in individual lives and in the larger world. Whereas the second task typically challenges the self-understandings of religious persons and traditions, the first and third undertakings are consonant with traditional religious attitudes and even have roots in the historic religious traditions themselves.

Although intimations of the contemporary psychology of religion can be found in eighteenth-century European theology and philosophy, it was in the United States, late in the nineteenth century, that the field finally took shape as a formal discipline. Two critical factors stand out. One was the growing enthusiasm, first in Europe and then in America, for extending the scientific attitude and methods into the human realm. Thus arose the new sciences of psychology and of the "history of religions," the latter promoted by the religious liberalism then in ascendance in the United States. The second factor was progressivism, the spirit of reform that swept across America at the turn of the century. Aimed at countering the destructive effects of industrialization, these reform efforts included the social gospel movement, which became widely influential in the liberal Protestant churches. Psychology and the other social sciences, likewise permeated by ethical concerns, lent support to these reform movements through the optimistic assumption that lives can be changed through systematic environmental interventions.

Most of the early advocates of the psychology of religion in America embraced both the new empirical psychology and the social gospel. Major contributors such as Stanley Hall, George Coe, and Edward Ames saw the psychology of religion as a way of reinterpreting or even reconstructing religion in more human-centered terms, to make it more effective in the modern world. Others, such as William James and James Pratt, were less set on reinterpreting religion than on establishing grounds for a new appreciation of it, especially as a means of individual and social transformation. Relying primarily on personal documents and questionnaire replies, these researchers set about to explore the dynamics of the religious sentiment and to propose new ways of engaging it in the more complex world of the twentieth century.

The climate that gave rise to the psychology of religion shifted rapidly, however, with the devastating blows of World War I and the subsequent economic and social crises. The great loss of confidence that spelled the end of progressivism and triggered the revival of religiously conservative views robbed the field of the interest and support it required for sustained development. At the same time, the dramatic rise of behaviorism and its ideal of an objective science undercut the study of subjective phenomena, including religious experience. Consequently, the psychology of religion went into a sharp decline in the 1930s and 1940s. It survived mainly in applied settings, notably in the work of pastoral counselors, and in the studies of a few dedicated scholars.

The majority of empirical psychologists of religion today pursue the first and third of the projects delineated above: describing religion in individual lives and tracing out its consequences. Description is undertaken only in a limited sense, however, for it is based on yes-no replies to standardized religiosity questionnaires and is reported in the form of numerical scores. The resulting data may then be subjected to factor analysis, a statistical procedure used to identify the underlying "factors" that account for the mathematical interrelationships of questionnaire items. Some assume that factor analysis reveals to us religion's essential dimensions or traits; others recognize that the number and character of the resulting dimensions are always contingent on both the types of questions asked and the nature of the participants who answer them.

Some of the earliest empirical speculation on causal factors in religion centered on physiological processes, including pathological conditions such as epilepsy, and the changes brought about by such voluntary practices as fasting, ecstatic dancing, and the taking of drugs. Recent advances in our knowledge of brain processes and the effects on them of various practices, including meditation and the ingestion of psychedelic drugs, have made possible more precise biological explanations. Basic research on the lateral specialization of the brain's hemispheres, for example, has prompted speculation as well as further investigations suggesting that striking religious or mystical experience is the result of exceptional electrical activity in the right temporal lobe. Whereas some conclude that establishing such physiological correlates reduces religious experience to electrical and chemical activity and hence invalidates it, researchers on meditation point to such correlates as evidence that meditation is genuinely and uniquely effective. We are faced here with highly complex philosophical issues.

Whether direct or vicarious, phenomenological description typically culminates in the identification of the phenomenon's essential features or traits. For some investigators, illumination of these traits marks the culmination of their work. Others go farther, seeking some interpretation of the descriptive material. Any of a variety of perspectives may come into play. One may undertake a "hermeneutical phenomenology," by means of which the phenomenon is situated in the broader context of human existence, itself understood phenomenologically. Alternatively, one may interpret the phenomenon in terms of one of the depth psychologies, whether it be Freudian psychoanalysis or one of its successors, Jung's analytical psychology, or yet another of the clinic-derived theories of personality.

Interpretation in terms of these psychologies marks a shift to the second of the field's projects: explaining the origins of religion in terms of psychological processes and suggesting thereby what the fundamental nature of religion is. Freud is well known for concluding that belief in a father-God is a product of the wishes and fears of early childhood, especially as they are shaped by the emotional complications of the Oedipus complex. Branding religion an "illusion," by which he meant a creation of wish fulfillment, Freud looked to the day when humankind would outgrow religion entirely. 041b061a72


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