1st Edition

The Psychologisation of Eastern Spiritual Traditions Colonisation, Translation and Commodification

By Elliot Cohen Copyright 2022
    158 Pages
    by Routledge

    158 Pages
    by Routledge

    This essential book critically examines the various ways in which Eastern spiritual traditions have been typically stripped of their spiritual roots, content and context, to be more readily assimilated into secular Western frames of Psychology.

    Beginning with the colonial histories of Empire, the author draws from the 1960s Counterculture and the subsequent romanticising and idealising of the East. Cohen explores how Hindu, Buddhist and Daoist traditions have been gradually transformed into forms of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Self-Help, undergoing processes of ‘modernisation’ and secularisation until their respective cosmologies had been successfully reinterpreted and reimagined. An important component of this psychologisation is the accompanying commodification of Eastern spiritual practices, including the mass-marketing of mindfulness and meditation as part of the burgeoning well-being industry. Also presenting emerging voices of resistance from within Eastern spiritual traditions, the book ends with a chapter on Transpersonal Psychology, showing a path for how to gradually move away from colonisation and towards collaboration.

    Engaging with the ‘mindfulness movement’ and other practices assimilated by Western culture, this is fascinating reading for students and academics in psychology, philosophy and religious studies, as well as mindfulness practitioners.

    1. ‘East is East and West is West?’
    2. Counterculture and the Return to the East
    3. The Buddha as Psychologist, the Dharma as Psychotherapy
    4. The Dao of Psychologisation
    5. The Commodification of ‘the East’
    6. Resistance
    7. Transpersonal Psychology


    Dr Elliot Cohen is a Chartered Psychologist and Senior Lecturer in Social and Interdisciplinary Psychology at Leeds Beckett University, UK. He is the current Secretary of the British Psychological Society’s Transpersonal Section and an active member of the Discourse Unit, which promotes more critical/radical approaches to Psychology.