Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and
Pilar Jennings and Jeremy D. Safran (Wisdom Publications) THE ENCOUNTER between Buddhism and Western psychotherapy has
a long history. Carl Jung had an early interest in both Western and Eastern mystical traditions, and in 1954 wrote a
psychological commentary for Walter Evans-Wentz's translation of The
Tibetan Book of the Dead (first published in 1927). Other
influential psychoanalysts' followed suit: in the 1950s and 1960s
Erich Fromm and Karen Homey took a particular interest in Zen
Buddhism. While in retrospect we can see that this interest
continued to percolate in the culture at large, in many respects it
disappeared from the mainstream scene and went underground within
psychoanalysis. In the 1990s as Buddhism became more thoroughly
assimilated into Western culture, and a generation of authors who
came of age in the 1960s began to emerge, the interest in Buddhism
by psychoanalysts began to resurface. A series of books on Buddhism
and psychoanalysis were published by authors such as Jack Engler,
Mark Epstein, Jeffiey Rubin, John Suler, Anthony Molino, and Barry
Magid, and isolated articles began to appear here and there in
professional and popular journals.
Jennings and Safran offer not only a survey of the encounter but also suggests where the encounter has mutually informative and transformative to booster clinical practice and the enhance buddhist practice. More
Minding Spirituality by Randall Lehmann Sorenson
(Analytic Press) Learned and chatty Sorenson considers the ambivalent roles the
various psychoanalyses play in regards self-knowledge and that peculiar longing
for authentic living usually named “spirituality” when one does not too much
want to be bothered with the accumulated bric-a-brac more usually identified as
religion. The well-asserted atheism of founder Freud has in the last century
warped into more accommodating views of religion and the problematic family
resemblance of psychoanalysis to religion. Sorenson’s exploration of this
complex should be refreshing to therapists and offers a workable accommodation
for patient and doctor. 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
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. These changes, in turn, reflect the transformation of psychoanalysis over the past several decades and give rise to this examination of spirituality from a contemporary relational perspective. 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. "Are psychoanalysis and religion in the same business?" he asks in his concluding chapter. No, he answers, but for reasons very different from those adduced by analysts and theologians of the past. In fact, he holds, the new criteria of demarcation offer rich opportunities for dialogue among psychoanalysis, religion, and spirituality. 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.
Excerpt: One way to determine whether psychoanalysis and religion are in the same business is to pay attention to their practices. In the final hour of what was a mutually planned termination after many years of working together, a patient volunteered an event that was for her a turning point in her analysis. She recalled a particular moment some years earlier when, having arrived a few minutes earlier than usual for her appointment, she ran into me exiting the building while she was just entering. I smiled at her, said Hi, and explained that I was stepping around the corner to grab a cup of coffee and that I would be back in time for our session.
She told me that what was meaningful for her in that encounter was that she experienced my love (this was her phrase), something she said was unremarkable in that she knew it regularly within the analysis. What was different here was that she experienced it outside the confines of the analytic hour, in a moment that was sudden enough to be unguarded and not a part of my professional self, thereby authenticating what she experienced inside the hour as "real." I found myself bemused and wondering, Did all my analytic training, all my supposedly profound interpretations, the hundreds of hours she spent, and her six-figure investment come down to this—a coffee cup cure?
We psychoanalysts have a long history of deep-seated misgivings and anxieties about love that stems from more than just our appreciation for the multileveled and inevitably conflictual aspects in all human experience, something from which love is not exempt. I think less often appreciated is how our legacy as analysts necessarily arises from a particular cosmology, a myth of origins that structures a profession's identity. Any discipline fears the view it formed in opposition against, and for psychoanalysis this was hypnotism. The bane of psychoanalysis became suggestion, and any hint of therapeutic change linked to the analyst's influence became verboten.
This was concretized in the legend of Anna O., a story held out as a kind of object lesson which has functioned rather like a medieval morality play for successive generations of psychoanalysts to contemplate. The story, first told by Freud decades after the fact and later embellished by Freud's hagiographer Ernest Jones, dichotomously casts Freud as champ and Breuer as chump. The received view, according to this narrative tradition, is that Breuer stumbled across transference love but failed to recognize it as such. By treating it as "real" he fled from the scene in an hysterical panic, conceived a child with his wife on a hastily planned second honeymoon, and discontinued all further psychoanalytic exploration. The moral of the tale is clear enough. Do not be a Breuer. Do not be a chump. Only psychoanalytic fools confuse transference for love—or, more accurately, fail to realize that transference is all love ever is anyway.
The only problem with this reading is that it is not true. Ellenberger has shown that the 1882 registry of Viennese citizenry proves Breuer's last child, Dora, was born on March 11, well before Breuer's June termination with Anna O., whose real name was Bertha Pappenheim. Although the location had been disguised, after considerable sleuthing Ellenberger also managed to identify the sanitarium at which she had been hospitalized and visited it. To his surprise, there he found the chart of Breuer's treatment of Pappenheim, still archived in medical records. With directions and encouragement from Ellenberger, Hirschmüller, in the course of doing his dissertation on Breuer, searched the sanitarium and found even more hospital records indicating, contrary to Jones, that Breuer continued his clinical investigations well after 1882.
Freud imagined that love was the therapeutic action of psychoanalysis—and by "love" he meant transference love, which induced the patient's willingness to submit to Freud's interpretations. As I have argued in chap-ter 4, it is no less useful to playfully imagine the therapeutic action of analysis as being indeed "love"—only now in the sense of countertransference love, much as Szondi spoke of the therapist as "soul donor," analogous to "blood donor." Social psychologists Shalom Schwartz of Jerusalem and Sipke Huismans of Amsterdam studied Jews in Israel, Catholics in Spain, Calvinists in the Netherlands, the Orthodox in Greece, and Lutherans and Catholics in West Germany and concluded that some form of soul donorship is juxtaposed as an alternative to materialism in all religions:
Religions encourage people to seek meaning beyond everyday existence, linking themselves to a "ground of being" through belief and worship. Most foster attitudes of awe, respect and humility, by emphasizing the place of the human being in a vast, unfathomable universe, and exhort people to pursue causes greater than their personal desires. The opposed orientation, self-indulgent materialism, seeks happiness in the pursuit and consumption of material goods.
If psychoanalysis is indeed a cure through love, whether defined via transference, countertransference, or anything else, it ends up having some-thing in common with the business of the major world religions.
From the other direction, there is much about contemplative religious practice that is quite similar to psychoanalytic practice. Episcopal priest and friend of psychoanalysis Alan Jones once described the contemplative practice of spiritual direction with lines from W. H. Auden's poem "For the Time Being":
For the garden is the only
place there is, but you will not find it
Until you have looked for it everywhere
and found nowhere that is not a desert.
On face value, this is a puzzling message. How is it possible to say that the garden is "the only place there is"? If we think about what portion gardens occupy of the earth's crust, the answer is most certainly infinitesimal. Gardens are not ubiquitous precisely because they are so much work. They require planning, and seeding, and soil amendment, and pruning, and watering, and weeding, and fairly consistent attention. How could something that's "the only place there is" be so hard to find? And in what sense can a garden and a desert possibly be considered synonymous? In the spiritual tradition of both the West and the Middle East, for example, the garden is a place of abundant provision for human growth and development, a paradise for human sustenance, whether material or aesthetic, whereas the desert is a place known for spiritual testing or tribulation because of its barrenness and desolation.
One interpretation of Auden's message is that life can be deeply rewarding and fulfilling, but the opportunities for reward and fulfillment are usually in ways other than what we had in mind—indeed it is our very fullness with misleading prerequisites for happiness that thwarts a more mature emptying and willingness to face all of human experience, especially moments of suffering or anxiety, with grace and courage. Spiritual direction in this sense is not about the pursuit of peak experiences or inoculation against loss so much as it is the discipline of paying attention, particularly to how the divine is already present in the quiet or routine moments of ordinary life, an attitude not altogether different from free association in psychoanalysis.
We thus can revisit the initial question: Are psychoanalysis and religion in the same business? Once we recognize that religion and science are not reducible to mutually exclusive, warring factions; once we recognize that religion is not at all in steady and persistent decline through worldwide patterns of secularization; once we recognize that science is an inherently social enterprise, so much so that theology fits the new criteria for science much better than psychoanalysis ever did the old principles of positivism; then just how psychoanalysis and religion are each ina completely different business is a lot less obvious. This means, as presented in chapter 1, that psychoanalysis is right to mind spirituality in the sense of being bothered by it, attending to it, and even exercising stewardship over it. Psychoanalytic theory has continued to evolve and change over the past century, often in profound ways that have very different implications for the analysis of religious experience, as detailed in chapter 2. Our challenge is to keep up with these changes and to make our practice have congruence and integrity with our evolving theory, whether in our psychoanalytic publications, our clinical technique, or our case presentations, as laid out in chapters 3, 4, and 5, respectively. Religion and spirituality, ironically seen as the antithesis of psychoanalysis three-quarters of a century ago, now have something to offer the structure of contemporary analytic education and the purpose and function of analysis, as presented in the penultimate and ultimate chapters, respectively.
I think psychoanalysis is especially good at taking things apart and at patiently exploring hidden layers of motivation. I think it also has much to offer the sociology of religion, which has been overly linear in its Weberian model of the world's disenchantment. That is, contemporary psychoanalytic perspectives tell us that disenchantment is not an altogether bad thing. It is a normal and essential ebb in the flow of a process that is emotional maturity. Persons who never become disenchanted do so via denial, hysteria, or a manic defense; those who do become disenchanted but never manage to recover from it are no less fiercely idealistic, no less trying to protect a cherished object's goodness, except that they are using the other side of the same split that now requires bitterness, cynicism, and even despair. More advanced than either static polarity alone is an ongoing process of dynamic integration: an enchantment that can suffer disenchantment but then survive it with enough faith intact to permit falling in love with the object anew—even though this renewed love provides no guaranty of immunity from suffering, and it, too, will one day come to its own grief, and so on. Philosopher Paul Ricoeur (1970) suggested that if psychoanalysis is a hermeneutics of suspicion, it would benefit from dialectical interplay with its hermeneutical counterpart, a hermeneutics of faith—not the faith of an unexamined life, but a post-critical faith that generates what Ricoeur called a "second naïveté" (p. 28). This makes for a dialogical hermeneutic of unmasking and demystification alongside another hermeneutic that recollects or restores meaning (in the root sense of religion: religare, to gather together).
Freud and Freudians on Religion: A Reader by Donald Capps (Yale University Press) presents selections from Freud's writings on religion and from the work of five more recent contributors to the psychoanalytic study of religion: David Bakan, Erik H. Erikson, Heinz Kohut, Julia Kristeva, and D.W. Winnicott. It is the first collection of texts in the psychology of religion that is oriented more toward religious studies than toward the study of psychology.In his introduction, Donald Capps points out that psychoanalysis resembles religions in the way in which its founding documents (Freud's own writings) have been closely read, have evoked interpretive battles, and have been reassessed and reapplied in response to changing social and cultural circumstances. He notes that just as Freud's writings on religion focus on the biblical text, the majority of the authors included here do likewise, showing how the Bible may be read psychoanalytically. Both Freud and his successors, says Capps, also reflect the high value that the Christian culture of the West has placed on painting and sculpture, revealing the importance of perception and imagination to the psychoanalytic study of religion. Capps highlights the ways in which all the Freudians work intertextually with Freud's writings, with the writings of other authors included in the book, and with other writings of their own.
Freud and Freudians on Religion: A Reader edited by Donald Capps (Yale University Press) (PAPERBACK) presents selections from Freud's writings on religion and from the work of five more recent contributors to the psychoanalytic study of religion: David Bakan, Erik H. Erikson, Heinz Kohut, Julia Kristeva, and D. W. Winnicott. It is the first collection of texts in the psychology of religion that is oriented more toward religious studies than toward the study of psychology.
In his introduction, Donald Capps points out that psychoanalysis resembles religions in the way in which its founding documents (Freud's own writings) have been closely read, have evoked interpretive battles, and have been reassessed and reapplied in response to changing social and cultural circumstances. He notes that just as Freud's writings on religion focus on the biblical text, the majority of the authors included here do likewise, showing how the Bible may be read psychoanalytically. Both Freud and his successors, says Capps, also reflect the high value that the Christian culture of the West has placed on painting and sculpture, revealing the importance of perception and imagination to the psychoanalytic study of religion. Capps highlights the ways in which all the Freudians work intertextually with Freud's writings, with the writings of other authors included in the book, and with other writings of their own.
"This reader of works of Freud and the post-Freudians on religion is a valuable text for courses. There is nothing like it currently available." -James W. Jones, Rutgers University
About the author: Donald Capps is William Harte Felmeth Professor of Pastoral Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is the author or editor of many other books, including Men, Religion, and Melancholia, published by Yale University Press.
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