Ross, James Alistair (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
From the 1970s the emergence of religion and spirituality in psychoanalysis is a unique development, given its traditional pathologizing stance. This research examines how and why ‘sacred psychoanalysis’ came about and whether this represents a new analytic movement with definable features or a diffuse phenomena within psychoanalysis that parallels developments elsewhere. After identifying the research context, a discussion of definitions and qualitative reflexive methodology follows. An account of religious and spiritual engagement in psychoanalysis in the UK and the USA provides a narrative of key people and texts, with a focus on the theoretical foundations established by Winnicott and Bion. This leads to a detailed examination of the literary narratives of religious and spiritual engagement understood from: Christian; Natural; Maternal; Jewish; Buddhist; Hindu; Muslim; Mystical; and Intersubjective perspectives, synthesized into an interpretative framework of sacred psychoanalysis. Qualitative interviews were then undertaken with leading experts focusing on the lived experience of contemporary psychoanalysts. From a larger sample, eleven interviews were selected for a thematic narrative analysis and from within this sample, six interviews were then the focus of a reflexive intersubjective analysis, utilizing psychoanalytic techniques. This research concludes that three forms of sacred psychoanalysis can be identified embracing a generic framework for theoretical and clinical understanding; a framework for intersubjective presence; and a framework for spiritual/sacred encounter.
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