A Boundary Problem

  • Graham Richards
Part of the Library of the History of Psychological Theories book series (LHPT)


In this chapter I wish to draw attention to a group of writers of the mid-twentieth century whose work indicates that the collapse of Psychology of Religion after 1930 was perhaps not so thoroughgoing as the previous chapter suggests. The picture is not so much false as a little too narrowly focussed on U.S. (and to some degree British) academic Psychology. The problem these writers pose for the historian of Psychology is an interesting one. Basically, it is an issue of where the boundary lies between Psychology and ‘non-Psychology’. In truth, there was an extensive body of mid-twentieth century discourse on ‘the human condition’, much of it religious in nature. The (or perhaps only my) difficulty is deciding which of this latter is relevant to the present work and which is not. This arises for two main reasons. Firstly, a number of such writers are engaged in a sort of dialogue with contemporary Psychology, with which they are generally very familiar. Secondly, we may reasonably assume that many psychologists of the period knew this work and were psychologically, if not overtly Psychologically, affected by it. Some of it did indeed feed more directly into the climate in which the new post-World War II ‘humanistic’ and ‘growth movement’ psychotherapies emerged. One might also note that in some cases the critiques of Psychology, which religious writers on the human condition articulated, have a discernible affinity with later critiques, which arose within Psychology, particularly those more recently proposed by people like Michael Billig and John Shotter who stress the constantly changing dynamic, dialogic and interpersonal character of psychological life. Without claiming to have solved the difficulty, there are several figures who I would want to insist on as being relevant


Frankfurt School Academic Psychology Pathological Anxiety Existential Anxiety Religious Thinker 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graham Richards BooksTunbridge WellsUnited Kingdom

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