Advertisement

Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 57, Issue 3–4, pp 161–182 | Cite as

Confounding the Divine and the Spiritual: Challenges to a Psychology of Spirituality

  • Daniel A. Helminiak
Article

Abstract

The pervasive inclusion of God or “God-substitutes” (the “sacred,” the “supernatural,” the “ultimate”) in the psychology of spirituality prevents the development of a truly psychological understanding. Misidentification of the spiritual with the divine projects the determinants of spirituality into a non-human, vaguely defined, ultimately intractable, and non-falsifiable realm. Two other difficulties follow: confusion about the essential nature of spirituality and indeterminacy regarding criteria to adjudicate true and false spiritualities. These three intertwined issues represent unavoidable challenges for the social sciences in general and psychology in particular. Building on the work of Bernard Lonergan, invoking the thought of Viktor Frankl, and citing long-standing Western theological and philosophical principles, this article elucidates these challenges and intimates a response, an explanatory and normative non-theological psychology of spirituality, which is open to theological elaboration.

Keywords

Authenticity Consciousness Epistemology Ethics Existential psychology Frankl, Viktor Lonergan, Bernard Psychology of religion Psychology of spirituality Spirituality: non-theist, true and false, definition of, criteria of 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author is grateful to Prof. Marvin J. McDonald, PhD, Trinity Western University, and the International Network on Personal Meaning for the lecturing invitation that led to the production of this paper.

References

  1. Adler, M. J. (1985). Ten philosophical mistakes. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  2. Albright, R. R., & Ashbrook, J. B. (2001). Where God lives in the human brain. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks.Google Scholar
  3. American Counseling Association (1995). ACA code of ethics and standards of practice. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.Google Scholar
  4. American Psychological Association (1992). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. American Psychologist, 47, 1597–1611.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aquinas, T. (1961). Summa theologica. Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos.Google Scholar
  6. Bergin, A. E. (1991). Values and religious issues in psychotherapy and mental health. American Psychologist, 46, 394–403.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bergin, A. E., Payne, I. N., & Richards, P. S. (1996). Values in psychotherapy. In E. P. Shafranske (Ed.), Religion and the clinical practice of psychology (pp. 297–325). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bernstein, R. J. (1976). The restructuring of social and political theory. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  9. Beutler, L. E. (1981). Convergence in counseling and psychotherapy: A current look. Clinical Psychology Review, 1, 79–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Beutler, L. E., & Bergan, J. (1991). Value change in counseling and psychotherapy: A search for scientific credibility. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 38, 16–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Browning, D. A. (1987). Religious thought and the modern psychologies: A critical conversation in the theology of culture. Philadelphia: Fortress.Google Scholar
  12. Campbell, J. (2001). Masks of eternity, program six: The power of myth [CD recording]. St. Paul, MN: HighBridge Company. (Originally produced 1988)Google Scholar
  13. Cary, P. (1997). Augustine: Philosopher and saint [cassette recording]. Springfield, VA: The Teaching Company.Google Scholar
  14. Clinebell, H. (1995). Counseling for spiritually empowered wholeness: A hope–centered approach. New York: Hawthorn.Google Scholar
  15. Cohn, W. (1962). Is religion universal? Problems of definition. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2, 25–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Colledge, E. (1981). Historical data. In E. Colledge, & B. McGinn (Eds.), Meister Eckhart: The essential sermons, commentaries, treatises, and defense (pp. 5–23). Mahwah: Paulist.Google Scholar
  17. D’Aquili, E. G., & Newberg, A. B. (1999). The mystical mind: Probing the biology of religious experience. Minneapolis: Fortress.Google Scholar
  18. Doran, R. M. (1981). Psychic conversion and theological foundations: Toward a reorientation of the human sciences. Atlanta, GA: Scholars.Google Scholar
  19. Dueck, A. (1989). On living in Athens: Models of relating psychology, church and culture. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 8, 5–18.Google Scholar
  20. Elkins, D. N. (1998). Beyond religion: A personal program for building a spiritual life outside the walls of traditional religion. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books.Google Scholar
  21. Emmons, R. A. (1999). The psychology of ultimate concerns: Motivation and spirituality in personality. New York: The Guilford.Google Scholar
  22. Emmons, R. A., & Crumpler, C. A. (1999). Religion and spirituality? The roles of sanctification and the concept of God. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 9, 17–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Feingold, B. D. (1995). Towards a science of spirituality: Six arguments for an authenticity oriented approach to research and therapy. NOVA-PSI Newsletter (National Organization of Veterans Administration Psychologists), 13(1), 13–21.Google Scholar
  24. Feingold, B. D. (2002). Some pragmatic implications of a scientific spirituality. In M. McDonald (Chair), Spirituality Summit. Symposium conducted at the second biannual conference of the Interpersonal Network on Personal Meaning, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.Google Scholar
  25. Feingold, B. D., & Helminiak, D. A. (2000). A credible scientific spirituality: Can it contribute to wellness, prevention, and recovery? In S. Harris, W. S. Harris, & J. Harris (Eds.), Lifelong health and fitness: Vol. 1. Prevention and human aging (pp. 173–198). Albany, NY: Center for the Study of Aging.Google Scholar
  26. Forte, R. (Ed.). (2000). Entheogens and the future of religion (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Council on Spiritual Practices.Google Scholar
  27. Frankl, V. E. (1962). Man’s search for meaning: An introduction to logotherapy. New York: Touchstone, Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  28. Frankl, V. E. (1988). The will to meaning: Foundations and applications of logotherapy. New York: New American Library. (Original work published in 1969)Google Scholar
  29. Gardner, H. (1985). The mind’s new science: A history of the cognitive revolution. New York: Basic.Google Scholar
  30. Habermas, J. (1991). On the logic of the social sciences (S. Weber Nicholsen & J. A. Stark, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: The MIT. (Original work published 1970)Google Scholar
  31. Hall, T. W., & Edwards, K. J. (2002). The spiritual assessment inventory: A theistic model and measure for assessing spiritual development. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41, 341–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hamer, D. H. (2004). The God gene: How faith is hardwired into our genes. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  33. Heller, D. (1986). The children’s God. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  34. Helminiak, D. A. (1981). Meditation—psychologically and theologically considered. Pastoral Psychology, 30, 6–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Helminiak, D. A. (1982). How is meditation prayer? Review for Religious, 41, 774–782.Google Scholar
  36. Helminiak, D. A. (1984a). Consciousness as a subject matter. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 14, 211–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Helminiak, D. A. (1984b). Neurology, psychology, and extraordinary religious experiences. Journal of Religion and Health, 23, 33–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Helminiak, D. A. (1986a). Four viewpoints on the human: A conceptual schema for interdisciplinary studies, I. The Heythrop Journal, 28, 420–437.Google Scholar
  39. Helminiak, D. A. (1986b). Lonergan and systematic spiritual theology. New Blackfriars, 67, 78–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Helminiak, D. A. (1987a). Four viewpoints on the human: A conceptual schema for interdisciplinary studies, II. The Heythrop Journal, 29, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Helminiak, D. A. (1987b). Spiritual development: An interdisciplinary study. Chicago: Loyola University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Helminiak, D. A. (1988). Spiritual concerns in Erich Fromm. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 16, 222–232 (Reprinted in The Best in Theology, Vol. 4, pp. 227–243, by J. I Packer, Ed., 1990, Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today).Google Scholar
  43. Helminiak, D. A. (1989). The quest for spiritual values. Pastoral Psychology, 38, 105–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Helminiak, D. A. (1992). To be a whole human being: Spiritual growth beyond psychotherapy. Human Development, 13(3), 34–39.Google Scholar
  45. Helminiak, D. A. (1994). Men and women in midlife transition and the crisis of meaning and purpose in life, a matter of spirituality. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin.Google Scholar
  46. Helminiak, D. A. (1995a). A humanist model of spirituality: Basis for holistic psychotherapy. NOVA-PSI Newsletter (National Association of Veterans Administration Psychologists), 13(1), 5–10.Google Scholar
  47. Helminiak, D. A. (1995b). Non-religious lesbians and gays facing AIDS: A fully psychological approach to spirituality. Pastoral Psychology, 43, 301–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Helminiak, D. A. (1996a). The human core of spirituality: Mind as psyche and spirit. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  49. Helminiak, D. A. (1996b). Response to Doran and Richardson on “A scientific spirituality.” The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 6, 33–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Helminiak, D. A. (1996c). A scientific spirituality: The interface of psychology and theology. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 6, 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Helminiak, D. A. (1997). Killing for God’s sake: The spiritual crisis in religion and society. Pastoral Psychology, 45, 365–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Helminiak, D. A. (1998a). Religion and the human sciences: An approach via spirituality. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  53. Helminiak, D. A. (1998b). Sexuality and spirituality: A humanist account. Pastoral Psychology, 47, 119–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Helminiak, D. A. (2001a). Response and clarifications on “Treating spiritual issues in secular psychotherapy.” Counseling and Values, 45, 237–251.Google Scholar
  55. Helminiak, D. A. (2001b). Treating spiritual issues in secular psychotherapy. Counseling and Values, 45, 163–189.Google Scholar
  56. Helminiak, D. A. (2002). Sexual ethics in college textbooks: A suggestion. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 26, 320–327.Google Scholar
  57. Helminiak, D. A. (2005). Meditation without myth: What I wish they had taught me in church about prayer, meditation, and the quest for peace. New York: Crossroad.Google Scholar
  58. Helminiak, D. A. (2006). Sex and the sacred: Gay identity and spiritual growth. New York: The Haworth.Google Scholar
  59. Helminiak, D. A. (2008a). Homosexuality in world religions: A case study in the psychology of spirituality. Journal of Individual Psychology, 64, 137–160.Google Scholar
  60. Helminiak, D. A. (2008b). Rejoinder to Debra Punton and Len Sperry on Helminiak’s (2008) “Homosexuality in world religions: A case study in the psychology of spirituality.” Journal of Individual Psychology, 64, 176–192.Google Scholar
  61. Helminiak, D. A. (2008c). Spirituality for a global community: Beyond traditional religion to a world at peace. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  62. Hill, P. C., Pargament, K. I., Hood, R. W., McCullough, M. E., Swyers, J. P., Larson, D. B., et al. (2000). Conceptualizing religion and spirituality: Point of commonality, point of departure. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 30, 51–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Hinterkopf, E. (1998). Integrating spirituality in counseling: A manual for using the experiential focusing method. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.Google Scholar
  64. Holden, J. M. (1996). Summit on spirituality in counseling. Association for Transpersonal Psychology Newsletter, 14.Google Scholar
  65. Hood Jr., R. W., Spilka, B., Hunsberger, B., & Gorsuch, R. (1996). The psychology of religion: An empirical approach (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  66. Institute of Logotherapy (1979). Principles of logotherapy. International Forum of Logotherapy, 2, 22.Google Scholar
  67. Johnson, L. T. (2002). Early Christianity: The experience of the divine, Lecture 6: Greco–Roman polytheism [cassette recording]. Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company.Google Scholar
  68. Jones, S. (1994). A constructive relationship for religion with the science and profession of psychology: Perhaps the boldest model yet. American Psychologist, 49, 184–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Kass, J. D., Friedman, R., Lesserman, J., Zuttermeister, P., & Benson, H. (1991). Health outcomes and a new index of spiritual experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 30, 203–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Kelly, T. A. (1990). The role of values in psychotherapy: A critical review of process and outcome effects. Clinical Psychology Review, 10, 101–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Kirkpatrick, L. A. (2005). Evolutionary psychology: An emerging new foundation for the psychology of religion. In R. F. Paloutzian & C. L. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (pp. 101–119). New York: The Guilford.Google Scholar
  72. Kors, A. C. (1998). The birth of the modern mind: An intellectual history of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries [cassette recording]. Springfield, VA: The Teaching Company.Google Scholar
  73. Lonergan, B. J. F. (1967). The natural desire to see God. In F. E. Crowe (Ed.), Collection: Papers by Bernard Lonergan, S. J. (pp. 84–95). Montreal, Québec, Canada: Palm.Google Scholar
  74. Lonergan, B. J. F. (1972). Method in theology. New York: Herder & Herder.Google Scholar
  75. Lonergan, B. J. F. (1976). The way to Nicaea: The dialectical development of Trinitarian theology (C. O’Donovan, Trans.). Philadelphia: The Westminster.Google Scholar
  76. Lonergan, B. J. F. (1990). In E. A. Morelli, & M. D. Morelli (Eds.), Collected works of Bernard Lonergan: Vol. 5. Understanding and being: The Halifax lectures on Insight. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: University of Toronto Press. (original work published 1980)Google Scholar
  77. Lonergan, B. J. F. (1992). Collected works of Bernard Lonergan: Vol. 3.Insight: A study of human understanding. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: University of Toronto Press. (Original work published 1957)Google Scholar
  78. Lovinger, R. J. (1990). Religion and counseling: The psychological impact of religious belief. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  79. McDargh, J. (1983). Psychoanalytic object relations theory and the study of religion: On faith and the imaging of God. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  80. McGinn, B. (1981). Theological summary. In E. Colledge & B. McGinn (Eds.), Meister Eckhart: The essential sermons, commentaries, treatises, and defense (pp. 24–61). Mahwah, NJ: Paulist.Google Scholar
  81. McGinn, B. (1995). The presence of God: a history of mysticism: Vol. 1. Foundations of mysticism. New York: Crossroad.Google Scholar
  82. Mead, G. H. (1974). In E. W. Morris (Ed.), Mind, self and society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Original work published 1934)Google Scholar
  83. Menninger, K. (1973). Whatever became of sin? New York: Hawthorn Books.Google Scholar
  84. Muesse, M. W. (2003). Lecture 8: The way of wisdom [cassette recording]. Great world religions: Hinduism. Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company.Google Scholar
  85. Myrdal, G. (1958). In P. Streeten (Ed.), Value in social theory: A selection of essays on methodology. New York: Harper and Brothers.Google Scholar
  86. Nelson, J. M., & Slife, B. D. (Eds.). (2006). Philosophical issues in psychology and religion [Special issue]. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 34(3).Google Scholar
  87. Newberg, A., D’Aquili, E., & Rause, V. (2001). Why God won’t go away: Brain science and the biology of faith. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  88. Paloutzian, R. F., & Park, C. L. (Eds.). (2002). Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality. New York: The Guilford.Google Scholar
  89. Pals, D. L. (1987). Is religion a sui generis phenomenon? Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 55, 259–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Pargament, K. I. (1997). The psychology of religion and coping: Theory, research, practice. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  91. Pargament, K. I. (1999). The psychology of religion and spirituality? Yes and no. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 9, 3–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Park, C. L. (2005). Religion and meaning. In R. F. Paloutzian & C. L. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (pp. 295–314). New York: The Guilford.Google Scholar
  93. Principe, L. M. (2002). History of science: Antiquity to 1700 [cassette recording]. Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company.Google Scholar
  94. Rayburn, C. A. (1996). Religion and spirituality: Can one exist independently of the others? In K. I. Pargament (Chair), What is the difference between religion and spirituality? Symposium conducted at the 104th annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.Google Scholar
  95. Richards, P. S., & Bergin, A. E. (2005). A spiritual strategy for counseling and psychotherapy (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  96. Richardson, F. C. (1996). Spirituality and human science: Helminiak’s proposal. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 6, 27–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Richardson, F. C., Fowers, B. J., & Guignon, C. B. (1999). Re-envisioning psychology: Moral dimensions of theory and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  98. Richardson, F. C., & Guignon, C. B. (1991). Individualism and social interest. Individual Psychology, 47, 66–71.Google Scholar
  99. Rizzuto, A. (1979). The birth of the living God: A psychoanalytic study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  100. Rosenau, P. M. (1992). Post-modernism and the social sciences: Insights, inroads, and intrusions. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  101. Roy, L. (2003). Mystical consciousness: Western perspectives and dialogue with Japanese thinkers. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  102. Schneider, K. (2004). Rediscovery of awe: Splendor, mystery, and the fluid center of life. St. Paul: Paragon.Google Scholar
  103. Segal, R. A. (1983). In defense of reductionism. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 51, 98–124.Google Scholar
  104. Shafranske, E. P. (Ed.) (1996). Religion and the clinical practice of psychotherapy. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  105. Shelly, J. A., & Fish, S. (1988). Spiritual care: The nurse’s role (3rd ed.). Dowers Grove, IL: InterVarsity.Google Scholar
  106. Slife, B. D., & Richards, P. S. (2001). How separable are spirituality and theology in psychotherapy? Counseling and Values, 45, 190–206.Google Scholar
  107. Smith, J. Z. (1987). Are theological and religious studies compatible? Bulletin of the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion, 26, 60–61.Google Scholar
  108. Sperry, L. (2005). Integrative spiritually oriented psychotherapy. In L. Sperry & E. P. Shafranske (Eds.), Spiritually oriented psychotherapy (pp. 307–329). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  109. Sperry, L. (2008). The psychologization of spirituality: A compelling case for it has yet to be made. Journal of Individual Psychology, 64, 168–175.Google Scholar
  110. Sperry, L., & Shafranske, E. P. (Eds.). (2005). Spiritually oriented psychotherapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  111. Spilka, B., & McIntosh, D. W. (1996). Religion and spirituality: The known and the unknown. In K. I. Pargament (Chair), What is the difference between religion and spirituality? Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, August.Google Scholar
  112. Tart, E. T. (Ed.). (1975). Transpersonal psychologies. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  113. Taylor, C. (1989). Sources of the self: The making of the modern identity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  114. Taylor, C. (1992). The ethics of authenticity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  115. The Gallup Poll. (2007). Belief in God. Retrieved July 15, 2008 from http://www.galluppoll.com/video/27886/Belief-God.aspx, June 14.
  116. Tjeltveit, A. C. (1986). The ethics of value conversion in psychotherapy: appropriate and inappropriate therapist influence on client values. Clinical Psychology Review, 6, 515–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  117. Tjeltveit, A. C. (1991). Christian ethics and psychological explanations of “religious values” in therapy: Critical connections. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 10, 101–112.Google Scholar
  118. Tjeltveit, A. C. (1992). The psychotherapist as Christian ethicist: Theology applied to practice. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 30, 89–98.Google Scholar
  119. Tjeltveit, A. C. (1996). Aptly addressing values in societal contracts about psychotherapy professionals: Professional, Christian, and societal responsibilities. In P. J. Verhagen & G. Glass (Eds.), Psyche and faith: Beyond professionalism (pp. 119–137). Zoetermeer, Netherlands: Uitgeverij Boekencentrum.Google Scholar
  120. Vaughan, F. E. (1982). The transpersonal perspective: A personal overview. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 14, 37–45.Google Scholar
  121. Walsh, R. N., & Vaughan, F. E. (Eds.). (1980). Beyond ego: Transpersonal dimensions in psychology. Los Angeles: Tarcher.Google Scholar
  122. Watts, R. E. (2001). Addressing spiritual issues in secular counseling and psychotherapy: Response to Helminiak’s (2001) views. Counseling and Values, 45, 207–217.Google Scholar
  123. Wilber, K. (1980). The nature of consciousness. In R. N. Walsh & F. Vaughn (Eds.), Beyond ego: Transpersonal dimensions in psychology (pp. 74–86). Los Angeles: Tarcher.Google Scholar
  124. Wilber, K. (1995). Sex, ecology, spirituality: The spirit of evolution. Boston: Shambhala.Google Scholar
  125. Wilber, K. (1996). Eye to eye: The quest for the new paradigm (3rd ed.). Boston: Shambhala.Google Scholar
  126. Wolfe, A. (1989). Whose keeper? Social science and moral obligation. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  127. Woolfolk, R. L., & Richardson, F. C. (1984). Behavior therapy and the ideology of modernity. American Psychologist, 39, 777–786.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  128. Wulff, D. M. (2003). A field in crisis: Is it time for the psychology of religion to start over? In P. Roelofsma, J. Corveleyn, & J. van Saane (Eds.), One hundred years of psychology and religion: Issues and trends in a century long quest (pp. 155–167). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: VU University Press.Google Scholar
  129. Zinnbauer, B. J., & Pargament, K. I. (2005). Religiousness and spirituality. In R. F. Paloutzian & C. L. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (pp. 21–42). New York: The Guilford.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of West GeorgiaCarrolltonUSA

Personalised recommendations