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Putting religion in its place : belief, trauma, faith and healing

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St John, EC (2008) Putting religion in its place : belief, trauma, faith and healing. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Western culture is suffering from a serious malaise characterised by social,
personal and environmental breakdown. Many contemporary and influential
commentators blame much of this breakdown on the failings of religion and
advocate its complete eradication from civic life. In this thesis I argue that this
diagnosis is erroneous for a number of reasons, but particularly because it
focuses on the "truth claims or content of religion rather than its process. I use a
different construct of religion based on the work of Jakob Fries and Friedrich
Schleiermacher who argue that religion is not about beliefs, but rather about the
human capacity to feel, which is an indelible capacity of the human mind and
body. I have been led by this conceptualisation to discern a subtle but
inextricable link between theology and psychotherapy and to argue that perhaps
one can directly inform the other. The recently developed fields of attachment
and trauma theory are used to illustrate and support this argument. Dissociation
or feeling distortion is a natural and healthy response to trauma but unmanaged,
it gives rise to isolation which leads to the development of a variety of
dysfunctional conditions including addiction, criminality, violence, depression and
suicide. Such isolation is a microcosmic replication of ontological isolation - the
inevitable and unavoidable condition of self-conscious human being which can
lead to the same kinds of dysfunction that can be observed in dissociated and
traumatised individuals. The various structures, of which, perhaps the most
notable is religion, that have developed in human societies as a way to manage
both personal and ontological isolation have been significantly eroded since the
beginning of the European Enlightenment. This erosion has combined with the
traumas of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and now the threat of
environmental catastrophe to leave human beings ill-equipped to manage the
chaotic and terrifying character of the contemporary world. The result is
destructive dissociative behaviour on a global scale. In response, I make a case
for a fundamental reconstruction of social institutions, including religious ones, to
promote awareness of the dangers of isolation and trauma, and to provide
structures for the re-establishment of authentic affective relationships between
people, and between people and their place of being, the earth.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Religion, Philosophical theology, Humanistic psychology, Isolation (Philosophy)
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2008 the author

Additional Information:

No access or viewing until 3rd November 2010. After that date, available for library use only and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2008. Includes bibliographical references. Pt 1. Dualities and externalities: religion and God revisited. Ch. 1. The new God wars -- Ch. 2. Religion and rationality - some old paradigms -- Ch. 3. Talking about God: from JHVH to TGOR -- Pt. 2. Internality and unity: disposition, dysfunction and deadlock. Ch. 4. Religion and feeling - a different paradigm -- Ch. 5. Feeling and connectivity -- Ch. 6. Feeling and disintegration -- Pt. 3. Healing and the happeningness of being. Ch. 7. Feeling and society - attachment and trauma writ large -- Ch. 8. Feeling and healing -- Conclusion.

Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2015 03:24
Last Modified: 03 May 2016 22:57
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