Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • Carol J. CookEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_9175

Although “intimacy” is commonly understood to refer to experiences characterized by a sense of closeness and connection, scholars who study intimacy agree that no generally accepted, formal definition of intimacy exists. Thus, attempts to study intimacy have taken a variety of approaches, two of which dominate. Within psychology, several branches focus on intimate interactions, especially those that take place within couples. Others follow in the tradition of Erik Erikson (1950/1963) who described intimacy as an individual capacity, naming the sixth stage of psychosocial development “Intimacy vs. Isolation.” This “dual” understanding of intimacy as primarily relational and/or as a state of being is reflected in dictionary definitions.

Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines intimacy as a “close personal relationship especially marked by affection or love (as in close friendship),” one “marked by depth of knowledge or broadness of information.” The Oxford English Dictionary...

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Louisville Presbyterian Theological SeminaryLouisvilleUSA