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Prescribing the DharmaPsychotherapists, Buddhist Traditions, and Defining Religion$
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Ira Helderman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469648521

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469648521.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Coming to Terms with Our Terms

Coming to Terms with Our Terms

(p.23) Chapter One Coming to Terms with Our Terms
Prescribing the Dharma

Ira Helderman

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter surveys psychotherapists’ common understandings for the primary terms the volume tracks: psychotherapy, religion, secular, science, medicine, Buddhism, spirituality, and terms for the ultimate aim of life such as enlightenment. Psychotherapists’ “conventional definitions” for these concepts are established as drawn from both textual analysis and data from interviews and ethnographic observation. The chapter then explains how therapists inherited these conventional definitions through brief histories of how European communities came to invent a modern concept of religion that is based on a Protestant prototype of inner belief or came to discover a Buddhism defined as atheistic (despite the evidence of Buddhist communities throughout history who propitiate deities). The chapter thus clarifies the socially constructed nature of these core concepts, concepts to which psychotherapists then contribute to in an ongoing revision and reconstruction.

Keywords:   Category of religion, Religious/secular binaries, Psychotherapy, Sigmund Freud, Secularization, Religion vs. science myth, Biomedicine/“the medical model”, Spirituality, Convert Buddhist communities, Enlightenment

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