Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 973–985 | Cite as

Chassidic Teachings and Modern Psychology: Toward a More Unified Approach

  • Akiva Turner
Philosophical Exploration


This article describes how many modern psychological constructs and theories exist in older as well as newer Chassidic and Jewish teachings, particularly those of Chabad Lubavitch. This exploration points toward a potential benefit for a unification of psychology and Chassidic teachings. Psychological theories and constructs explored are Freudian psychoanalysis, cognitive dissonance, cognitive restructuring/reframing, self-efficacy/planned behavior, and logotherapy/existentialism. The article then concludes with a discussion of possible implications of moving toward a unified approach for clinical practitioners.


Chassidus Psychology Behavioral change theory Clinical practice 


  1. Abramson, P. (n.d.). So great a G-d in so tiny a book. Retrieved from:
  2. Ajzen, I. (2002). Perceived behavioral control, self-efficacy, locus of control, and the theory of planned behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32, 665–683.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavior change. Psychological Review, 84, 191–215.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bandura, A. (1986). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  5. Beck, A. (1997). The past and the future of cognitive therapy. Journal of Psychotherapy Practice and Research, 6, 276–284.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Berke, J. H. (1996). Psychoanalysis and the Kabbalah. Psychoanalytic Review, 83(6), 849–863.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Biderman, J. (n.d.). Victor Frankl and the Rebbe. Retrieved from:
  8. Blazek, M., Kazmierczak, M., & Besta, T. (2014). Sense of purpose in life and escape from self as the predictors of quality of life in clinical samples. Journal of Religion and Health,. doi: 10.1007/s10943-014-9833-3.PubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Chabad. (n.d.). About Chabad Lubavitch. Retrieved from:
  10. Coleman-Brueckheimer, K., & Dein, S. (2011). Health care behaviours and beliefs in hasidic jewish populations: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of Religion and Health, 50, 422–436. doi: 10.1007/s10943-010-9448-2.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Cotler, Y. (n.d.). What is the Tanya all about. Retreived from:
  12. Drob, S. (1988). Chassidus and contemporary psychology: A dialogue with Rabbi Alter Metzger. The Jewish Review: A Journal of Torah, Judaism, Philosophy, Life and Culture, 2(2), 1–8. Retrieved from
  13. Festinger, L. (1962). Cognitive dissonance. Scientific American. Retrieved from:
  14. Frankl, V. (1959/2006). Man’s search for meaning. An introduction to logotherapy. Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  15. Freud, S. (1901/1960). The psychopathology of everyday life (6th ed.). (A. Dyson, Trans.). New York, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.Google Scholar
  16. Greenberg, D., & Witztum, E. (2001). Sanity and sanctity. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jacobson, S. (1995). Toward a meaningful life. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.Google Scholar
  18. Jacobson, S. (2014) Medicine psychology and spirituality: Are they compatible? OP-ED Weekly. Retrieved from
  19. Janowski, M. (n.d.). Is there a difference between the evil inclination and the animal soul? Retrieved from:
  20. Krumrei, E. J., Pirutinsky, S., & Rosmarin, D. H. (2013). Jewish spirituality, depression, and health: An empirical test of a conceptual framework. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 20(3), 327–336. doi: 10.10007/s12529-012-9248-z.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Mindel, N. (2013). The letter and the spirit: Letters by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Brooklyn, New York: Nissan Mindel Publications.Google Scholar
  22. Puchalski, C. M., Larson, D. B., & Lu, F. G. (2001). Spirituality in psychiatry residency training programs. International Review of Psychiatry, 13(2), 131–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. (2014). JLI Torah studies season 5775 instructors manual, lesson 4, know thy self. New York, New York: Rohr Jewish Learning Institute.Google Scholar
  24. Rosmarin, D. H., Krumrei, E. J., & Andersson, G. (2009a). Religion as a predictor of psychological distress in two religious communities. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, 38(1), 54–64. doi: 10.1080/16506070802477222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Rosmarin, D. H., Pirutinsky, S., Pargamet, K. I., & Krumrei, E. J. (2009b). Are religious beliefs relevant to mental health among Jews? Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 1(3), 180–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rosmarin, D. H., Pirutinsky, S., Aurebach, R. P., Bjorgvinsson, T., Bigda-Peyton, J., Andersson, G., et al. (2011). Incorporating spiritual beliefs into a cognitive model of worry. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 67(7), 691–700. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20798.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Rosner, F. (2001). Religion and medicine. Archives of Internal Medicine, 161(15), 1811–1812.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Rozen, Y. (The Rogatchover Gaon). Tzofnas Paneach on Parshas Shoftim.Google Scholar
  29. Schulman, M. A., & Kaplan, R. S. (2013). Transference and “The Rebbe” idiographic and nomothetic factors in the psychoanalysis of Lubavitch chassidim. Journal of Religion and Health,. doi: 10.1007/s10943-013-9745-7.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Sloan, R. P., Bagiella, E., VandeCreek, L., Hover, M., Casalone, C., Hirsch, T. J., et al. (2000). Should physicians prescribe religious activities? New England Journal of Medicine, 342, 1913–1916.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Steinsaltz, A. (2007). Understanding the tanya: Volume three in the definitive commentary on a classic work of kabbalah by the world’s foremost authority. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  32. Steinsaltz, A. (2014). My Rebbe. Jerusalem: Maggid Books.Google Scholar
  33. Talmud Balvi, Tractate Berachos, 60b.Google Scholar
  34. Wasserman, D. B. (2004). Chassidic antecedents to the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud: A biographical and textual analysis (Dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database (UMI No. 3125045).Google Scholar
  35. Weissman, S. (n.d.). A jewish approach to cognitive dissonance. Retrieved from:\.
  36. Wineberg, S. B. (2007). Health in body, mind and spirit: Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Rabbi Mecahem M. Schneersen. Brooklyn, New York: Sichos in English.Google Scholar
  37. Zalman, S. (1797/1982). The Tanya. (Weinberg, L., & Weinberg, S., Trans.). Elucidated by Y. Wineberg. Brooklyn New York: Kehot Publication Society.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health Care Sciences DepartmentNova Southeastern UniversityFort LauderdaleUSA

Personalised recommendations