“Sacred psychoanalysis”: an interpretation of the emergence and engagement of religion and spirituality in contemporary psychoanalysis

Ross, James Alistair (2010). “Sacred psychoanalysis”: an interpretation of the emergence and engagement of religion and spirituality in contemporary psychoanalysis. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


Download (3MB)


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.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/1372


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year