All posts tagged: psychology

Self-Centeredness Isn’t Narcissism’s Central Problem

Ovid’s Metamorphoses tells the strange myth of Narcissus—the boy who fell in love with himself. After spurning the love of the nymph Echo, whose speech can be only the repetition of what she has heard, the beautiful youth wanders, seeking solitude, and finds himself. However, a seer prophesied that Narcissus would live a long life only “if he does not discover himself.” He fatefully discovers himself as a reflection in a pool, as “a bodiless dream. He thinks that a body, that is only a shadow.” Like Echo, whose unrequited love reduces her to “bones and the sound of her voice” that is echo with no substance, his love is for an echoed shadow that he becomes. “Fool, why try to catch a fleeting image, in vain?” Ovid exhorts. “What you search for is nowhere: turning away, what you love is lost! What you perceive is the shadow of reflected form: nothing of you is in it.” Narcissus suffers Echo’s fate, which he himself foretold when he rejected her: “‘May I die before what’s mine …

Catechesis as a Way of Life

What are the catechetical developmental tasks that can be identified in the Catechism of the Catholic Church? In the foregoing these tasks will be reviewed within the context of a family’s daily practice of their everyday lives. Developmental tasks have their origin from the staff associated with Daniel A. Prescott’s Child Study Program at the University of Chicago from 1935 to 1950.[1] They concluded that throughout our lives we are under the influence of an agenda of life goals. It was Robert Havighurst who defined this agenda of life goals as developmental tasks. He noted that each task “arises at or about a certain period in the life of the individual, successful achievement of which leads to . . . happiness and to success with later tasks, while failure leads to unhappiness in the individual, disapproval by the society, and difficulties with later tasks.”[2] The tasks were recognized as related to physical and biological development, social-cultural influences and a person’s values and aspirations.[3] The meaningfulness of this concept is supported in its application in a …

The Most Important Religious Event Since the Reformation

Leonard Bernstein was born in 1918—the year World War I ended. His musical West Side Story premiered in 1957. On 9 August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Its Cathedral of St. Mary was annihilated instantaneously. On August 15, the Japanese surrendered, ushering in the end World War II. On 1 November 1950 Pius XII declared the dogma of the Assumption. Carl Jung called this declaration “the most important religious event since the Reformation.” West Side Story The 100th anniversary of Bernstein’s birth has occasioned numerous performances of West Side Story, easily his most popular work. It places the traditional Romeo and Juliet story in New York City’s Spanish Harlem, where the white Jets fight the Puerto Rican Sharks for neighborhood territory. The Jet Tony falls for Maria, sister of the Sharks’ gang leader. Performances and program notes in 2018 have noted the continuing American struggle of immigration and racial integration decades after the musical’s performance and its 1961 transformation into an Academy Award-winning film. Perhaps West Side Story relates …

The Mother of God and Psychoanalysis

One of the memorable and almost lyrical books I read as part of my private instruction prior to entering the Church was the great Jesuit theologian Henri de Lubac’s The Splendor of the Church. The book is a fine example of what I would call “devotional ecclesiology.” It does not—as my own book on the papacy does—concern itself with the more impersonal structures and offices of the Church, but rather with the personal nature of “Ecclesia Mater,” Mother Church, whose maternity is seen vis-à-vis the Mother of God. That book, and that phrase, came back to mind in reading of the recent announcement by Pope Francis that he is instigating a new feast for Pentecost Monday celebrated in honor of Mary, Mother of the Church. Why this feast? The official decree says that it aims at a “growth of the maternal sense of the Church.” What, I wonder, does the “maternal sense of the Church” really mean? Here, naturally, my mind turned to post-Freudian psychologist D.W. Winnicott, whose research did so much to advance our …

Where Do Theology and Cognitive Psychology Intersect?

Both college educators and students are rushing to connect psychological, educational, and neuroscientific findings to learning outcomes. Students study psychological research such as C. Dweck’s academic growth mindset in order to develop their learning trajectories. Professors are immersed in a burgeoning market of academic pedagogy models that stress retention of information in addition to conventional assessment. Three influential examples include: Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, What the Best College Teachers Do, and Small Teaching.[1] These are indeed exciting developments. On the one hand, institutions of higher learning are challenging students as learners to cultivate integrative and appropriative methods for their own academic development and retention. On the other hand, faculty are ever lauded not only for the precise presentation of content, but also for fostering the critical and integrative skills that bridge collegiate learning into life and work. Concerning both, however, as any faculty or student will admit, these goals are much harder to actualize than to theorize. As researchers in the psychology and theology of memory, we wish to suggest how …