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Download PDF by Stephanie Muravchik: American Protestantism in the Age of Psychology

By Stephanie Muravchik

Many have anxious that the ever-present perform of psychology and psychotherapy in the US has corrupted non secular religion, eroded civic advantage, and weakened neighborhood existence. yet an exam of the background of 3 significant psycho-spiritual activities considering international battle II - Alcoholics nameless, The Salvation Army's outreach to homeless males, and the "clinical pastoral education" flow - unearths the other. those teams built a realistic non secular psychology that nurtured religion, fellowship, and private accountability. They completed this via together with spiritual traditions and non secular actions of their definition of treatment and via placing clergy and lay believers to paintings as therapists. lower than such care, religious and emotional progress strengthened one another. because of those techniques, the 3 routine succeeded in attaining hundreds of thousands of socially alienated and religiously disillusioned americans. They proven that faith and psychology, even if antithetical in a few eyes, should be combined successfully to foster group, person accountability, and happier lives.

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Students were encouraged to connect important aspects of their own early lives to the way they felt and behaved as adults. Such honesty and self-knowledge were seen as pathways to greater selfmastery and freedom of action. Ideally, for example, a minister would leave training capable of acknowledging the anger that a neurotic parishioner evoked in him. If he further recognized that the difficult woman reminded him of his mother with whom he’d had a troubled relationship, then he could overcome some of his hostility.

Sensing danger, an unusual polymath named Helen Flanders Dunbar – medical doctor, scholar of theology and philosophy, and expert in psychosomatic medicine – warned in 1930: [If] the priest who is coming to be suspect and ostracized from increasingly large social groups . . 1 Dunbar was eager to show clergy the way. The same year she issued her warning, she became the first director of a pioneering organization devoted to training Protestant clergymen in clinical psychology. Her 1 Thornton, Professional Education for Ministry.

Students were encouraged to perceive psychiatric dynamics as currents that ineluctably flowed through religious activities, rather than as the bedrock that defined them. A good example of this when it was effective are revealed in the reflections of Philip R. Brewer, an advanced student, after he spent a quarter interning in a general hospital: I was impressed in this experience with the use to which some patients put the religious symbols such as prayer, Scripture, and worship. It was easier to talk about death in the context of the 23rd Psalm for one person and for another she was able to use the 19th chapter of Revelation.

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