Earl Bland and Brad Strawn, eds.

Christianity and Psychoanalysis

A New Conversation

IntraVarsity Press 2014

New Books in Christian StudiesNew Books in PsychoanalysisNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books Network April 12, 2016 Claire-Madeline Culkin

Despite remaining neutral on his personal religious beliefs, Freud’s commitment to empiricism and his determination in relegating psychoanalysis to a scientifically valid position has...

Despite remaining neutral on his personal religious beliefs, Freud’s commitment to empiricism and his determination in relegating psychoanalysis to a scientifically valid position has had a lasting impact. In some sense, its created a taboo against theological considerations. This taboo, Earl Bland and Brad Strawn, the editors of Christianity and Psychoanalysis: A New Conversation (IntraVarsity Press, 2014) argue, has been to the detriment of psychoanalysis as a clinical form of treatment and a philosophical system of meaning. Like religion, psychoanalysis attempts to ask what it means to live in the face of death. Psychoanalysis, in its traditions as vast and nuanced as those within the Christian faith, like religion, has moral imperatives about how subjectivity ought to be structured.

Bland and Strawn observe that the culture is ripe for a new conversation, in that the turn toward rationalitywithin Christianity can be understood as a philosophical parallel to the turn in psychoanalytic theory toward understanding the human subject as being in relationship. To initiate this conversation, they have gathered a group of practitioners and people of faith from across the spectrum, to engage in this exchange: one that breaks the taboo that has prevented these two domains of knowledge from sharing the same conversational space.

Speaking from perspectives across both disciplines, this book features authors ranging from contemporary Freudian psychoanalysis to Attachment-Based psychoanalytic therapy on the psychoanalytic spectrum and from traditional Catholicism to faiths rooted in the Charismatic tradition across the Christian spectrum. In each chapter, the authors mutually invoke a theoretical consideration together with a clinical demonstration. Their voices are informed, critical, and personal in equal measure. Together with the editors, they candidly and humbly demonstrate not just the value of, but also the necessity of, acknowledging the dialogical influence of religious beliefs in the clinical setting, both on the side of the patient, as someone who may organize his or her subjectivity in relationship to faith, as well as on the side of the clinician, whose religious beliefs may consciously or unconsciously mediate the treatment.


Claire-Madeline’s interests lie at the intersection of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory and Catholic theology, which are often at the fore of her discussions with the authors she is privileged to interview for the New Books Network. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence College and holds a BA in Psychology from Eugene Lang College, The New School for liberal arts.

 

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