Psychologists Are Not Angels

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1979, Vol 24(2), 132–133. Reviews the book, Religion and Psychology by E. F. O'Doherty (1978). The title of this work, Religion and Psychology, covers an amazing potential for content. What is presented here, however, is one extreme of this relationship–namely, the evaluation of a very restricted aspect of psychology from a similarly limited religious framework. There is never any doubt about where the author stands. Religion passes judgment upon psychology, but the reverse may not occur. Psychology deals with the naturalistic domain, not the supernatural, and a rationalist theology decides within which domain a phenomenon falls. Chapters are devoted to mystical phenomena and conversion, yet there is no recognition of over 80 years of psychological research and writing in these areas. The discussion may be theologically pertinent; however, in its present form it is psychologically irrelevant. The author has offered us a theological discourse in which psychology is largely incidental. We need something very much different if psychology and religion are to have a meaningful dialogue. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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