Spirituality: Perspectives from Psychology

Chapter

Abstract

The engagement of modern psychology with spirituality has spanned more than a century, following seminal inquiries by William James, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Today, there is no single understanding of spirituality within psychology. Nevertheless, psychological and psychologically-informed studies of spirituality have consistently revealed important aspects of this area of human functioning including the identification of a range of approaches and orientations to spirituality; the importance of various beliefs, attitudes and cognitive styles associated with spirituality; the relationship and contributions of personality and emotion to spirituality; and the relevance of spiritual attachments to human development and well-being. In the practice of psychotherapy, spirituality’s inclusion has some empirical support, although professional development in spiritually-informed practice is relatively sparse. The challenge for future research is to consider whether psychological approaches may illuminate additional aspects of spirituality – especially those (such as the numinous and mysterious) that are not easily constrained within a psychological paradigm. For this illumination to occur, psychologists must be open to apparently anomalous and inexplicable components of spirituality, while maintaining a psychological perspective that facilitates sound theoretical and empirical examinations of new arenas of spirituality.

Keywords

Search for meaning Transformation Connectedness Personality Cognition Human development Phenomenological research Experimental studies Attachment to God Psychological therapies 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Excelsia CollegeU.W.S. Psychology (Aus)Macquarie ParkAustralia
  2. 2.Excelsia CollegeMacquarie ParkAustralia

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