I had a double-edged reaction to Minding Spirituality by Randall Lehmann Sorenson when I read it the other day. On the one hand, I am very interested in the interplay between spirituality, meaning, psychology and mental health.

On the other, it sometimes felt like this book tried too hard to be an impressive feat of intellectual prowess, rather than simply commenting on the (very interesting) themes it contained.

There were several pithy quotes I enjoyed about the nature of life and belief and myth and reality: “Myths, it has been said, are things that never happened but always occur.”

Sorenson also made the important point that “A case could well be made that psychoanalysis was as much the creation of incredibly perceptive female patients as it was their (usually) male analysts.” This isn’t something I’ve really thought about before, but it rings true.

I enjoyed the way Sorenson wove aspects of religion and spirituality – both from his own Christian belief system and from other perspectives – into his psychoanalytic commentary. At one point, he speaks about extending the Christian concept of ‘neighbour-love’ into loving parts of ourselves, which is a beautiful concept.

Minding Spirituality is also representative of a particular genre of psychotherapy books I have read recently: those that admit that therapy, done well, changes the therapist as well as the client. To my mind, if you’re in *any* kind of important relationship, it’s going to change both (or all) of you who are in it; as well it should.

I’m not sure I’d throw my recommendation behind this book – there were plenty of things I found less than enticing about it. But Sorenson definitely provided some food for thought around spirituality and psychotherapy, and the relationships within and between both of them.

Favourite words in this book:

praxis
propinquity
stochastic
catechetical
quorum

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