Psych 348x: Psychology of Religion



Related Resources

(Not required, just for your reference.)


The next time you are heading out for a vacation or you are looking for a diversion from your coursework, consider some of these suggested readings. They are presented in no particular order. Please note that much on this list was borrowed from Nielsen’s web pages.


A Spiritual Strategy for Counseling and Psychotherapy
by P. Scott Richards, Allen E. Bergin

Embracing in the theistic world religions only that which is healthy and beneficial to all of humankind, the authors argue that psychotherapists should routinely assess the religious and spiritual system of their clients' lives in order to obtain a fuller and more accurate picture. Coverage includes the history of science and psychology, the major world religions, and the evolution of psychology; the traditional antagonisms between the spiritual and scientific domains; and case studies demonstrating the integration of theistic strategy into mainstream approaches.


Handbook of Psychotherapy and Religious Diversity

Edited by P. Scott Richards, Allen E. Bergin

A deep appreciation for the diversity of human spirituality informs this carefully crafted volume, which examines over two dozen religious traditions in the context of clinical practice. Knowledge of religious diversity, now considered part of multicultural competency in the mental health professions, is particularly crucial when the client's faith differs from one's own. This book provides readers with the information needed to increase their competency in working sensitivity with members of each of the major faith communities in North America. Chapter authors, each accomplished clinicians and active in the religions they describe, help the reader understand the unique history, beliefs, rituals, and practices of the religion as well as commonly held views on such issues as divorce, homosexuality, birth control, abortion, suicide, and euthanasia. Within the context of the particular faith, chapter authors describe the therapeutic, focusing on building relationships, assessment and diagnosis, and common clinical issues. By providing therapists with in-depth denominationally specific information and clinical guidelines, this book will help all psychotherapists more fully honor and make use of the unique religious beliefs and spiritual resources of their clients.


Religion and the Clinical Practice of Psychology
by Edward P. Shafranske (Editor)

Not a study of the psychology of religion, but an investigation into religion as a variable in treatment of mental disorders and in the clinical process. Issues are discussed with respect to the life of the individual and, secondarily, to the culture at large. Contributions are in sections on the conceptual, cultural, and historical context of religion and psychology; religion, mental health, and clinical practice; and psychotherapy with religiously committed people.


Encountering the Sacred in Psychotherapy: How to Talk with People about their Spiritual Lives

by James and Melissa Griffith

Based on their experience at the Center for Multicultural Human Services in Falls Church, VA and case vignettes, VA, J.L. and M.E. Griffith (psychiatry, George Washington U. Medical Center) provide guidance on knowing when it is appropriate to pursue the spiritual/religious dimension with clients; hearing sacred stories in cultural-community contexts for healing beyond medical/psychiatric diagnoses; and understanding how spiritually can turn destructive.


Religion and Psychology in Transition: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and Theology
by James William Jones

In this thought-provoking book, clinical psychologist and professor of religious studies James W. Jones presents a dialogue between contemporary psychoanalytic thinking and contemporary theology. He sheds new light on the interaction of religion and psychology by viewing it from the perspective of world religions, providing an epistemological framework for the psychology of religion that draws on contemporary philosophy of science, and bringing out the importance of gender as a category of analysis.


Prophetic Charisma : The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities
by Len Oakes

Len Oakes explores the phenomenon of cult leaders. He examines the psychology of charisma and proposes his own theory of the five-stage life cycle of the two types of prophets: the messianic and charismatic. Often characterized by isolation, autonomy, grandiosity, and manipulativeness, Oakes maintains that the cult leader has a narcissistic personality. This individual possesses a heightened empathy, confidence, and memory, as well as autonomy and detachment - while appearing disquietingly normal most of the time. The author has interviewed several leaders whom, he feels, exemplify the charismatic personality. He also provides insight into the behavior and personality of many well-known cult leaders such as Jim Jones, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, L. Ron Hubbard, Werner Erhard, Kathryn Kuhlman, and J. H. Noyes. For eleven years, Oakes was a member of a charismatic communal group, during which time he simultaneously undertook his research into the psychology of charisma. His results - informed by both insider and academic viewpoints - contradicts many current accepted beliefs about cult leaders and their followers.


Myths to Live By
by Joseph Campbell

The brilliant author of The Masks of God shares his ideas and speculations on our universal myths, in a fascinating, very personal work which explores the enduring power of the myths that influence our lives and examines the myth-making process from the primitive past to the immediate present.


Freud and Freudians on Religion: A Reader
by Donald Capps (Editor)

In 1927's The Future of an Illusion, Sigmund Freud predicted that the "illusion" of religion had no future and would be abandoned by modern society. But Freud is long dead, may he rest in peace, and religion is still very much around. In Freud and Freudians on Religion: A Reader, Donald Capps of Princeton Theological Seminary pulls together some of Freud's most famous thoughts on religion and also reprints essays by five of the psychoanalyst's intellectual heirs, including Erik Erikson and Julia Kristeva. This is a useful, well-organized collection.


Shadow Culture Psychology And Spirituality In America

by Eugene Taylor

America is witnessing a third Great Awakening, an explosion of interest in esoteric and mystical religious experience. Often referred to as New Age or pop psychology-especially by its detractors-this new awakening is a profoundly psychological one, stressing the alteration of consciousness, the integration of mind and body, and the connection between physical and mental health. Shadow Culture finds the roots of the New Age in the sermons of Jonathan Edwards, the writings of Emerson and Thoreau, and the counterculture of the 1960s. It will appeal to anyone interested in the resurgence of spiritualism in America, from New Age seekers to Gnostics, from agnostics to Unitarians, from Swedenborgians to practicing Buddhists.


Religion and the Individual: A Social-Psychological Perspective

by C. Daniel Batson, Patricia Schoenrade, and W. Larry Ventis

This book is an excellent examination of the "religious orientation" research that has guided hundreds of psychological studies of religion. In it, you read about Allport's intrinsic and extrinsic orientations toward religious events, and Batson's quest orientation. Batson and his colleagues offer a readable introduction to the research literature. This book does not offer a survey of the many different perspectives that psychologists bring to the field. What it does offer is an excellent study of religious orientation, describing how this line of research can be used to better understand the motivations behind religious behavior & belief, and the consequences of religious belief on mental health and social behavior. Although written from the perspective of social psychology, the authors also address concerns relevant to clinical and developmental psychology.

Other interesting titles:


Further Along the Road Less Traveled: The Unending Journey Toward Spiritual Growth.

By M. Scott Peck


Reincarnation : The Phoenix Fire Mystery: An East-West Dialogue on Death and Rebirth from the Worlds of Religion, Science, Psychology, Philosophy, Art and Literature.
by Joseph Head, Sylvia Cranston


Cognitive Models and Spiritual Maps: Interdisciplinary Explorations of Religious Experience
by Jensine Andresen (Editor), Robert K. C. Forman (Editor), Ken Wilber (Editor)


On Losing the Soul: Essays in the Social Psychology of Religion
by Richard K. Fenn (Editor), Donald Capps (Editor)