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'A local habitation and a name A Kristevan reading of human growth in religion, with a reference to John and Charles Wesley'

Watson, Pauline Elizabeth (2008) 'A local habitation and a name A Kristevan reading of human growth in religion, with a reference to John and Charles Wesley'. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This study is concerned with the concept of human growth and change: it juxtaposes processes of growth and change in psychoanalytic therapy and those in a religious context. In both situations the relationship between growth and development and the idea of becoming 'good' is considered. Kleinian, Post-Kleinian and particularly Kristevan theory is used to elucidate facilitators of change in psychoanalytic therapy and in the context of Christian faith. The emphases in the theory used here differ from those of more traditional developmental theorists in the study of religion, which rely heavily on ego-psychology and self-psychology, and focus on the autonomous ego and the degree of maturity of forms of religion. By contrast, the emphases here are on the split self, on unconscious drives, phantasies and affects, and on the non-cognitive apprehension of truth. Through an examination of the lives of John and Charles Wesley, the thesis examines the possibility of growth occurring in the context of so-called 'immature’ forms of religion, the means by which this might occur, and the extent to which change is governed by an individual's mental structure and psychological defences. The Kristevan reading allows a less cognitive, 'ego-driven' study of the growth to 'goodness' than does that of the developmental theorists. It thus questions the validity of traditional classifications of forms of religion. It elicits differences between the historical subjects, which demonstrate the importance of personality factors in facilitating or hindering growth. Finally, it enables an exploration of Charles Wesley’s hymns which reveals evidence of erotic and imaginary elements, and the possibility of triadic openness in what some would see as an 'immature' form of belief. This examination also questions Kristeva's own assertion that religious symbolism cannot adequately 'sublimate' the 'abject'.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2008
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:24

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