Minding Spirituality: 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Minding Spirituality

1st Edition

By Randall Lehmann Sorenson


200 pages

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Paperback: 9781138009806
pub: 2014-12-01
Hardback: 9780881633443
pub: 2004-02-17
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In Minding Spirituality, Randall Sorenson, a clinical psychoanalyst, "invites us to take an interest in our patients' spirituality that is respectful but not diffident, curious but not reductionistic, welcoming but not indoctrinating." Out of this invitation emerges a fascinating and broadening investigation of how contemporary psychoanalysis can "mind" spirituality in the threefold sense of being bothered by it, of attending to it, and of cultivating it.

Both the questions Sorenson asks, and the answers he begins to formulate, reflect progressive changes in the psychoanalytic understanding of spirituality. Sorenson begins by quantitatively analyzing 75 years of journal literature and documenting how psychoanalytic approaches to religious and spiritual experiences have evolved far beyond the "wholesale pathologizing of religion" prevalent during Freud's lifetime. Then, in successive chapters, he explores and illustrates the kind of clinical technique appropriate to the modern treatment of religious issues. And the issue of technique is consequential in more than one way -- Sorenson presents evidence that how analysts work clinically has a greater impact on their patients' spirituality than the patients' own parents have.

Sorenson brings an array of disciplinary perspectives to bear in examining the multiple relationships among psychoanalysis, religion, and spirituality. Empirical analysis, psychoanalytic history, sociology of religion, comparative theory, and sustained clinical interpretation all enter into his effort to open a dialogue that is clinically relevant. Turning traditional critiques of psychoanalytic training on their head, he argues that psychoanalytic education has much to learn from models of contemporary theological education. Beautifully crafted and engagingly written, Minding Spirituality not only invites interdisciplinary dialogue but, via Sorenson's wide-ranging and passionately open-minded scholarship, exemplifies it.


"Minding Spirituality is, in my view, the best book we are going to get on the vexed interplay of psychoanalysis, religion, and spirituality. Sorenson brings a wide and unique range of qualities to his task. Extremely well versed in the intricacies of contemporary psychoanalysis and modern theology, he is a sensitive clinician - as his case studies illustrate - and is also conversant with a range of empirical research, which he draws on to good effect. These several disciplinary perspectives come together in an accessible and readable style. I urge psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, and all others with an interest in the life of the mind and spirit to read this outstanding volume."

- Louis Breger, Ph.D., Author, Freud: Darkness in the Midst of Vision

"Sorenson asks starkly: Does it make any difference if the analyst believes in God? To this narrow question, he gives a wide answer: What matters is that the analyst is open to transcendence, the experience of the sacred, of being a 'soul donor.' Rich clinical and empirical data invigorate Sorenson's thesis."

- Victorial Hamilton, Ph.D., Author, The Analyst's Preconscious (Analytic Press, 1996)

"Randall Sorenson brings together his deep and abiding commitments to psychology, psychoanalysis, and a spiritual/religious life in this thought-provoking, scholarly, yet highly readable work in which he explores the intersection and potential for mutual enrichment inherent in these diverse and powerful avenues for personal growth and transformation. Sorenson's unusual ability to bring to bear on his topic a combination of first-rate scholarship, a sophisticated use of research methodologies, and wise and well-told clinical psychotherapeutic vignettes will make this work of great interest to a wide range of clinicians, helpers and healers of the mind and spirit."

- Anthony Bass, Ph.D., Editor, Psychoanalytic Dialogues

Table of Contents

Introduction. Minding Spirituality. Ongoing Change in Psychoanalytic Theory: Implications for Analysis of Religious Experience. How Being "Religious" Was Treated in Psychoanalytic Journals from 1920 to 1994. The Patient's Experience of the Analyst's Spirituality. The Analyst's Experience of the Patient's Religion: Clinical Considerations. Psychoanalytic Institutions as Religious Denominations: Fundamentalism, Progeny, and Ongoing Reformation. Psychoanalysis and Religion: Are They in the Same Business?

About the Series

Relational Perspectives Book Series

The Relational Perspectives Book Series (RPBS) publishes books that grow out of or contribute to the relational tradition in contemporary psychoanalysis. The term relational psychoanalysis was first used by Greenberg and Mitchell (1983) to bridge the traditions of interpersonal relations, as developed within interpersonal psychoanalysis and object relations, as developed within contemporary British theory. But, under the seminal work of the late Stephen Mitchell, the term relational psychoanalysis grew and began to accrue to itself many other influences and developments. Various tributaries—interpersonal psychoanalysis, object relations theory, self psychology, empirical infancy research, and elements of contemporary Freudian and Kleinian thought—flow into this tradition, which understands relational configurations between self and others, both real and fantasied, as the primary subject of psychoanalytic investigation.  

We refer to the relational tradition, rather than to a relational school, to highlight that we are identifying a trend, a tendency within contemporary psychoanalysis, not a more formally organized or coherent school or system of beliefs. Our use of the term relational signifies a dimension of theory and practice that has become salient across the wide spectrum of contemporary psychoanalysis. Now under the editorial supervision of Lewis Aron and Adrienne Harris with the assistance of Associate Editors Steven Kuchuck and Eyal Rozmarin, the Relational Perspectives Book Series originated in 1990 under the editorial eye of the late Stephen A. Mitchell. Mitchell was the most prolific and influential of the originators of the relational tradition. He was committed to dialogue among psychoanalysts and he abhorred the authoritarianism that dictated adherence to a rigid set of beliefs or technical restrictions. He championed open discussion, comparative and integrative approaches, and he promoted new voices across the generations.  

Included in the Relational Perspectives Book Series are authors and works that come from within the relational tradition, extend and develop the tradition, as well as works that critique relational approaches or compare and contrast it with alternative points of view. The series includes our most distinguished senior psychoanalysts along with younger contributors who bring fresh vision.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Applied Psychology