Relating to God

Relating to God : Clinical Psychoanalysis, Spirituality, and Theism

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In Relating to God: Clinical Psychoanalysis, Spirituality, and Theism, Dan Merkur presents a clinical alternative to both the dismissal and the culturally relative endorsement of the client's religion, proposing a contemporary psychoanalytic distinction between wholesome spirituality and its symbolic and symptomatic displacements. Spirituality compatible with psychoanalysis is identified with the via negativa, "way of negating," that is found historically in selected Christian and Jewish encounters with God.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 318 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 27.94mm | 612.35g
  • Jason Aronson Inc. Publishers
  • Northvale NJ, United States
  • English
  • 0765710153
  • 9780765710154
  • 1,812,496

Review quote

Dan Merkur, a practicing psychoanalyst in Toronto, has become one of the most important thinkers and prolific writers in the area of psychology and religion. While academic psychology of religion is increasingly preoccupied with cognitive neuroscience and brain studies, Merkur has steadfastly pursued his own path, which concentrates on sources in anthropology, ecstatic experiences, and the history of religions. This book, his latest of more than a dozen, is a worthy extension of his erudite interests, amounting to what Merkur understands as a 'psychoanalysis of religion.'...This is the third book by Dan Merkur I have read closely, and I find his work to be very impressive. His reading of others is balanced and fair, he never ignores sources that disagree with his judgments, and his work in general is a significant contribution to the field. RELIGION With a background in both the history of religions and in clinical psychoanalysis, Dan Merkur provides a thoughtful and thorough survey of a century of psychoanalytic thinking about religion and spirituality. His discussions of prayer, mysticism, the numinous, contemplative practice, and the image of God culminate in a thoughtful reflection on the therapeutic relationship as a Buberian 'I-Thou' encounter in which trust, meaning, and faith can emerge. Designed primarily for clinicians, the volume will also interest scholars of religion. -- Diane Jonte-Pace, PhD, Santa Clara University Dan Merkur is one of those increasingly rare scholars who can insightfully and authoritatively relate the history of religions to the different schools of psychoanalysis, and vice versa. The present volume is a classic Merkurian performance, ranging from the Prophet Dance of the Beaver Indians of Canada and Freudian discussions of animism and cultural evolution, through the later ego and object relations psychologists and the Anglo-american conversion experience, to Bion's mysterious O and the 'negative way' of Buddhist, Christian and Jewish mystical literature. A very impressive volume witnessing once again to the historical fact that robust comparativism never went away, nor should it. -- Jeffrey J. Kripal, PhD, Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom: Eroticism and Reflexivity in the Study of Mysticism
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About Dan Merkur

Dan Merkur, PhD, is a clinical psychoanalyst in private practice in Toronto and a faculty member at both the Toronto Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis and the Living Institute. He is also a visiting scholar in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. Relating to God is his fourteenth book.
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Table of contents


1. Freud on Animism and Religion

2. Freud's Search for Spirituality

3. Clinical Psychoanalysis and Religion

4. Analyzing the Transference onto God

5. Interpreting Numinous Experiences

6. Mentalizing God

7. Unsaying God

8. Revelation and Prophecy


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