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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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Look but Don’t Touch

Look but Don’t Touch

Therapizing Religion Approaches

(p.53) Chapter Two Look but Don’t Touch
Prescribing the Dharma

Ira Helderman

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter introduces psychotherapists’ therapizing religion approaches to Buddhist traditions. In these approaches, therapists analyze religious traditions using not only psychological methodologies (as in the discipline of psychology of religion), but psychotherapeutic theories founded on ideas about health and illness. They thus “therapize” religion. It explicates the work of Franz Alexander and Carl Jung in detail as two early representatives of these approaches - though the two arrived at very different conclusions about the pathological or positive content of Buddhist practice. It further explains that clinicians continue to therapize Buddhist traditions today, often to assess the healthfulness of Buddhist elements before “translating” or “integrating” them into their psychotherapies. This reveals the instability that lies within the relational configurations therapists imagine between the religious and the not-religious when they therapize Buddhist traditions. In their repositioning of psychotherapy within classifications like religion and science, even the early treatments of Jung and Alexander ultimately subvert the hard borderlines they mean to reinforce.

Keywords:   Psychology of religion, Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, Franz Alexander, Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Narcissism, Oceanic Feeling, Religious essence/the numinous, D.T. Suzuki

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