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The Human Core of Spirituality: Mind As Psyche and Spirit Hardcover – July, 1996

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

I wish Huxley, Tillich, Maslow, May and Rogers were alive to champion this extension of their work. A welcome merger of Lonergan and humanistic psychology, self-actualization free of selfism, transcendence and morality without dogma. Thomas Greening, Ph.D., editor, Journal of Humanistic Psychology
It will make a needed contribution in the area of spirituality that can be joined to the study of the human psyche, and can be applied in fields like nursing to understand human health in its many forms. To take on the task of explaining spirit rigorously is just what I would have expected from Daniel Helminiak, given his ongoing and intrepid pursuit of knowledge development, and his willingness in previous writings to be critical of the ways that classical science and organized religion have treated human becoming. In this book, instead of presenting a deconstruction, he offers what is more useful, an alternative. He challenges the status quo while providing what is a major step forward in constructing a science of the spirit. Beverly A. Hall, R.N., Ph.D., F.A.A.N., Denton & Louise Cooley & Family Centennial Professor of Nursing, University of Texas at Austin
Helminiak s concept of the human spirit is clear, convincing and practical. It should become the working core of every practical discipline dealing in depth with human beings. The reader will come away from this text with a profound sense of the reality of spirit as a natural dimension of the human experience. This work is timely, well argued, and will clearly define the direction of future research and thought in the area of a naturalistic spirituality. Psychologists, counselors, philosophers, theologians and spiritual directors should be reading this book for a full understanding of naturalistic spirituality. Robert L. Potter, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine for the University of Kansas School of Medicine
In this tour de force of scholarship and humanity, Daniel Helminiak cuts through the polyglot that has hampered our deliberations. He identifies spirituality s central issues, explores their implications, and points the way to development of a coherent, scientific approach to understanding life s transcendent dimension. I recommend this work to anyone willing to consider the possibility that much of what we call spiritual may be a human phenomenon a phenomenon that, by its very nature, demands scientific inquiry. Barnet Feingold, Ph.D., Rochester Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic and Buffalo Veterans Administration Medical Center" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Daniel A. Helminiak is Assistant Professor of Psychology at West Georgia College. His books include The Same Jesus: A Contemporary Christology; Spiritual Development: An Interdisciplinary Study; and What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality. He holds doctorates in both psychology and theology. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 307 pages
  • Publisher: State Univ of New York Pr; 1st edition (July 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791429490
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791429495
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,152,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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By A Customer on September 28, 1997
Format: Paperback
Spirituality has recently become an acceptable topic of popular discussion outside of religious circles -- in psychology, medicine, nursing, social work, education, politics, philosophy. Yet most discussions of spirituality are loose and merely suggestive. Moreover, the frequent implication of God and differing religions complicates and befuddles this already difficult topic. My book sorts out these issues.
The basic argument is that spirituality is a human thing, grounded in the very make-up of the human being. To be sure, most spirituality expresses itself through religious belief and pious practice. Still, in essence, spirituality can be treated apart from religion and theology -- and it ought to be, if a coherent and accurate understanding of spirituality is the goal. And this is the goal of my book. This is also what our contemporary world needs.

Part I teases apart the theological and the human facets of the matter and, bracketing the theological temporarily, focuses attention on the human. Part II explains what human spirit is and how its unbounded unfolding grounds spirituality. Part III elaborates human psyche and shows how, for better or worse, psychological issues affect the functioning of the human spirit. And Part IV says what characterizes fully healthy humanity -- on-going personal integration that is ever respectful of the self-transcending dynamism of the human spirit.

A discussion of sexuality summarizes the book. This discussion provides an extended example of what spiritual integration would actually mean and also indicates what difference it would make to bring God back into the picture.
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Format: Paperback
This review originally appeared in White Crane Journal #35, Winter 1997

Daniel Helminiak’s fourth book is at first a little daunting. The former priest turned psychotherapist and philosopher of spirit sets out for himself a difficult and rigorous job: “There are laws of physics that govern this universe—and laws of chemistry and biology and medicine and psychology. I believe there are spiritual laws, too. The laws of spirit must eventually incorporate and harmonize with these other laws.” Following the exacting method of his teacher, Bernard Lonergan, Helminiak sets out to articulate the laws of spirit. And succeeds.

Central to the premise is that spirit is a fundamental aspect of the human being as much as, but different from, body and psyche. Helminiak carefully distinguishes these. Spirit he calls, “the distinctively human dimension of mind, determined by self-awareness and experienced as spontaneous question, marvel, wonder, a dynamism open to all there is to be known and loved.” While spirit is tied into religion, it is not a religious matter. It doesn’t depend on God or revelation. And the function of this aspect of mind is only indirectly concerned with religious mythology and practice. Hence its operations are crucial to psychology and to ethics (without relying on religion). Recognizing the reality of spirit is an important step in transcending religion and theism without denying or rejecting them.

The book begins with a heartfelt critique of popular “spiritual” notions like those that AIDS is caused by failure to love yourself, arguing that that lack of rigorous thinking results in misuse of the idea of “spirit.” To avoid mushy thinking, Helminiak does some very difficult and very precise defining of aims and terms.
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I hoped this book would offer a solid definition of "spirituality" and an attempt to survey a difficult area, already plagued by too many idiosyncratic definitions and approaches. This is one more; the author severs "psyche" from "spirit," then has trouble placing Jung and Grof and many others clearly writing about "both," or rather, refusing to make this separation. A more basic problem for scholars in religion, psychology and cultural studies is the author's wanting to have his cake- an intrinsic, essential, trans-cultural core of "spirituality" that is more primordial than any religion - and eat it too, by incorporating specific cultural/religious constructs into his definition of the above. Frustrating, and the charts and diagrams to not help.
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