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A Primer Of Psychology According To A Course In Miracles

A Primer Of Psychology According To A Course In Miracles

4.7 8
by Joe R Jesseph

Reader Comments

"For those interested in learning about the integration of psychology and spirituality, Dr. Jesseph's book, is excellent. It also presents in a unique way an overview of the principles and metaphysics of A Course in Miracles."
- Ruth R. Gillman, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Temple University; student of ACIM since 1989

"In this book Dr.


Reader Comments

"For those interested in learning about the integration of psychology and spirituality, Dr. Jesseph's book, is excellent. It also presents in a unique way an overview of the principles and metaphysics of A Course in Miracles."
- Ruth R. Gillman, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Temple University; student of ACIM since 1989

"In this book Dr. Jesseph gives us a clear and concise understanding of the basic themes taught in A Course in Miracles, and how Freud's insights are relevant to these teachings. This is an excellent book."
- Martha Street, Moderator for Course Talk, an ACIM discussion group on the Internet; the Course has been her path since 1980

"Joe's patiently thorough style answers questions even before they arise, making this work an invaluable learning aid and reference guide for beginners and advanced students of ACIM alike. I was exposed to his writings beginning in 2003. The years since have been the most astoundingly pivotal years of my life."
- Barb Beaven, Moderator for Course Talk and student of the Course since 2001

"This 'Primer' clarifies Jesus gentle use of psychology in removing the ego's blocks to love. As a student of the Course since 1996 and a former psychology major, I am grateful to Dr. Jesseph for educating me without boring me."
- Tom Smith, Assistant Moderator for Course Talk and dedicated student of the ACIM path

"This 'Primer,' focusing upon the psychology of A Course in Miracles, is just what a struggling student needs! Here is a clear and complete treatment of how modern psychology and Jesus' psychology come together in the practice of the Course, and how they also remain different in the way they approach correction of our problems. If you are a new student or an old-timer as I am (since 1982), you will gain from Dr. Jesseph's patient and useful explanation of what the psychology of the Course means as we seek to gain the peace promised by the Course."
- Gene Fessenbecker, long-time, dedicated student of ACIM and founder of the Construction Contracting Academy; author of 16 books

"This book not only stands on its own as an informative and inspiring read about the psychology of A Course in Miracles, it also serves as an introductory explanation and prelude to the Course itself."
- Melody Vantucci, serious student of the Course since 2003

"For several years I have had the pleasure of studying Joe Jesseph's manuscripts, essays and posts on the Internet regarding A Course in Miracles. His grasp and clarity of explaining the Course have been central in my understanding of it. This 'Primer' is insightful and especially helpful in the continuation of Joe's teachings."
- John G Steiner, student of the ACIM path for over 20 years

"For someone who does not have an educational background in psychology, this book is a god-send. It offers a topical view of psychological theories and concepts with the spiritual interpretations of ACIM. If you are new to the Course, be assured you will be well informed. If 'Jesus' is a prickly word to you, fasten your seat belt."
- Sarah Favret, ACIM student for 22 years, 15 years as study group facilitator

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Outskirts Press, Inc.
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6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

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Psychology has been described as the science of mind and behavior. A typical dictionary definition is: "The science that deals with mental processes and behavior."

Essentially, it is the goal of psychology to help us understand ourselves: why we behave as we do; think, experience and feel as we do; what accounts for differences among us; and why we have the problems and conflicts that we experience. Hopefully, then, such understanding could help us resolve our conflicts and would be of use to those professionals who attempt to treat persons with what are regarded as psychological problems or disorders.

As a separate scientific discipline, psychology is relatively new in the world, coming on the scene in the late nineteenth century when the eminent German scientist-philosopher Gustav Fechner established that mind, as he understood it, could be studied scientifically, followed by Wilhelm Wundt's founding of a laboratory for psychological experimentation at Leipzig University in 1875, the same year that William James instituted a similar laboratory at Harvard University. Prior to this time, questions relating to mind and behavior had been the province of philosophy, and indeed both Wundt and James were regarded as philosophers though they were instrumental in establishing the science of experimental psychology.

About the same time, Sigmund Freud, who had been deeply influenced by the writings of Fechner, began his study of the human mind as he collaborated with the physician Josef Breuer in treatment of a female patient who began to manifest a series of symptoms with no apparent physiological cause. In 1895 that famous collaboration resulted inthe publication of a work entitled Studies on Hysteria, a landmark publication in Freud's career as he began to develop his comprehensive theory of psychoanalysis, a theory which he regarded as the basis for a new science of mind.

Experimental psychology has emphasized the study of human behavior and physiology, since such study lends itself to objective observation, quantifiable data, and scientific methodologies. While Freud was trained as a scientist, and regarded his studies as scientific, the object of his study was the inner life of individuals, including himself. His approach has been described as "clinical," as distinguished from the experimental.

Both approaches to psychological study, the behavioral/experimental and the clinical, have produced a wealth of theoretical formulations with their attendant concepts, and A Course in Miracles makes use of many of these concepts, while offering a system of psychology that is radically different from anything which has preceded it. It is
profoundly different from other psychologies of the world because it incorporates the spiritual dimension of human experience, and because it is grounded on a non-dualistic metaphysical foundation. At the same time, the Course's psychology is eminently practical, acknowledging that we believe in a dualistic reality and must therefore be helped within the context of what we believe, even though it is not the truth. Forgiveness is the core of this practical teaching, but in order to practice the Course's psychology of forgiveness one must be willing to accept that one's true identity is as spirit of which mind is the "activating agent," and that one is not truly separate from anything or anyone perceived to be other than self. Then, the practice of forgiveness is understood as a spiritual undertaking at the level of mind which requires us to engage in a process of undoing ego identity with its dualistic belief system that conceives of an individual existence separate from God, and of separate, individual beings whose differences are quite important and whose goals are often in conflict.

It is no accident that the scribe of the Course and her colleague were professional psychologists who had been schooled in both experimental and clinical traditions, and it is within the framework of traditional psychology that many of the terms and concepts of the Course are found. Indeed, it can be said that the language and conceptual form (though not the content, or underlying message) of the psychology found in A Course in Miracles depends upon the genius of Sigmund Freud and would not have been possible without the hundred plus years of development in western psychological thought that preceded it. However, as with terms and concepts that it draws from religion, the Course offers an understanding that is quite different from the traditional, beginning with the fact that its concept of mind is unlike anything attempted in traditional psychology, and no doubt unacceptable to traditional psychologists whose metaphysical premises are those of the ego's dualistic thought system.

Finally, A Course in Miracles is a "channeled" work-that is, it is a work whose inspiration and words come from a spiritual source in the mind of its "scribe," Helen Schucman. Schucman herself never used the words "channel" or "channeling" to describe the inspiration that produced the Course through her. Rather, she spoke of a kind of "inner dictation" that was very personal in nature. The personal identity of the inner voice she heard was that of Jesus. But this was a Jesus whose thought system hardly matches that of the Jesus portrayed in the Bible. In fact, the Course itself can be understood in part as representing a critique and radical revision of traditional Christian thought, which is also dualistic in its premise, and which has a quite different understanding of forgiveness.

So, the psychology of A Course in Miracles, which this book is intended to summarize and outline, comes from an authority at the level of spirit and mind. Speaking in terms of Course principles, ultimately all human expressions come from that level-all works are "channeled" or inspired at the level of mind, then to take form, whether as words, music, art, or some other human behavior. The issue of authority, then, is not spirit versus science, or God versus the human intellect. Rather, the issue of authority, from the perspective of the Course, has to do with which thought system in the mind is the source of human activity and expression. And, according to the Course, there are only two thought systems in the mind, of which only one is grounded in truth. Those are the dualistic thought system of the ego, which begins with the false premise that separation from God and from all else is real; and the non-dualistic thought system of the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus manifests, and which begins with the truth of oneness that separation is impossible. The hope of healing and escape from human suffering that the Course offers lies in the fact that as mind we have a choice between those two thought systems.

The source of A Course in Miracles is ultimately the truth that only Oneness is real, oneness being the essence of Love, or of God. Since, according to the Course, the Mind of God has no awareness of separation, and God did not make the world or the body, the Love of God is not, and cannot be, directly present in the mind that dreams of separation. Yet, because God is the only true reality, His essence-His Oneness and Love-is ever present and cannot be completely blocked out. So, a memory of God and His Love remains in our mind in spite of our dedication to the ego which has led us to dream of an existence apart from Love; separated out from Oneness and hallucinating a world and body.

But God and His Love are without form, ethereal and completely abstract; therefore the Memory which remains in our mind is amorphous. In the Course, that Memory is called the Holy Spirit Who can be understood as an abstract Presence of Love in our mind which is able to be sensed and to inform our perceptions in the world of illusions, but which for most of us is remote and impersonal. It is therefore very helpful when that amorphous Presence can be symbolized for us in a form that is more accessible-more personal. In the mind of Helen Schucman, Jesus was that more personal manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Jesus thus serves as the voice whose words speak to us from the pages of A Course in Miracles, inviting us to take him as our internal teacher and guide.

Meet the Author

Joe Jesseph describes himself as a "seeker" who did not always know what he was searching for, but looking back can see that his path consistently led, however winding, toward A Course in Miracles. Along the way he received an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Wyoming and spent many years as a college counselor as well as a licensed psychologist in private practice. During graduate school he was deeply influenced by Dr. Carl Rogers' "Person-Centered" approach to counseling and psychotherapy. Dr. Jesseph has been interested in metaphysical and spiritual literature, studies in altered states of consciousness, psychic phenomena and parapsychology. Some of the important way stations along his path include the Edgar Cayce material, the Seth material by Jane Roberts, the writings of J. Krishnamurti and studies in yoga, including a two month residence at Esalen Institute and a month-long retreat with Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad. He has been a student of the Course since 1987 and a member of the Foundation for A Course in Miracles' staff from 1989-92. Since that time he has worked closely with the Foundation in a volunteer capacity. Dr. Jesseph has written widely about the Course on the Internet, which writings have culminated in this book. He regards Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, President and principle faculty member of the Foundation for A Course in Miracles, as his teacher both academically and by the example of his life. Dr. Wapnick consulted closely with Dr. Jesseph in the writing of this book.

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A Primer Of Psychology According To A Course In Miracles 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been studying A Course in Miracles for two years, and am delighted to come across Joe Jesseph's book. It is very straitforward and accessible in its language and style, and is filled with great examples of the application of the Course to our daily lives. Few would deny that the Course presents a very different teaching compared with what most of us have grown up with, and even compared with the work of that master of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. It's understood that Freud made a great contribution to the study of the mind with his examination of the workings of the ego--but as a pure scientist, he never went beyond that. The Course takes us much further with the recognition of the need for defenselessness, forgiveness, and thus enters a profoundly spiritual realm. In a clear and gentle way, Joe illumines this comparison--never forgetting the essentially human nature of the material and the application of it to all our thinking and doing. I would strongly recommend this as a valuable reference for anyone serious about studying the Course, as well as anyone interested in psychology per se. It would be interesting to see such a comparison of the Course's teaching with that of Carl Jung, who seems to me to have had a greater grasp of our 'collective unconscious' (oneness of mind?) and the emphasis he placed on our creative nature. Joe? Another book?
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a student of ACIM for about five years, I have found this book to be extremely beneficial. It is very comprehensive and there is so much information in it, that I have read it more than once, with something new to be found with each study. I especially like the appendixes and my personal favorite is the index which will lead me to exactly where I want to go in the book. As a matter of fact, just reading the index, takes me on a journey as I follow through with what piques my interest on any given day. Dr. Jesseph offers very thorough explanations and descriptions of very consequential information that is found in the Course. His 'Summary and Conclusions' at the end of many of the chapters as well as his final 'Summary and Conclusions' serve as an excellent review and overview of the information presented. This book can serve as an informative abetment to many of the concepts presented in 'A Course In Miracles' as well as a companion to be read with the Course itself. Any person interested in ACIM as well as one who has been a student of The Course for many years will find this book to be very substantial.
Guest More than 1 year ago
According to A Course in Miracles Joe R. Jesseph, Ph.D. Outskirts Press, 2008 ISBN: 978-1-4327-1673-8 3 Stars Not for the average person¿ A Primer of Psychology According to A Course in Miracles is not a book for the average person. Joe R. Jesseph writes with expertise and knowledge. He gives a comprehensible summary of the themes taught in A Course in Miracles. Those interested in this topic will enjoy A Primer of Psychology According to A Course in Miracles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Course in Miracles is a three volume work first published in 1975. It teaches a radical non-dualistic spirituality utilizing terms and concepts from Christianity and modern psychology, but redefining those terms and concepts so that they are applied in a unique, non-traditional way. While the official version of the Course has not been actively marketed and promoted, still the authorized English edition has found its way into the hands of over two million readers, while it has been translated into 17 other languages with more translations currently underway. In his Primer of Psychology According to A Course in Miracles Dr. Joe Jesseph has undertaken to explain the system of psychology which is an integral part of the Course thought system. He points out that this system of psychology employs a concept of mind that is unlike anything found in traditional psychologies. Jesseph explains that in A Course in Miracles ¿mind¿ is regarded as an aspect of spirit outside of time and space. The Course itself says mind is ¿the activating agent of spirit,¿ and teaches that it represents our true identity as contrasted with our false identity as ego self and body. In the Course, Jesseph further explains, the ego and body are illusions born of the false idea that it is possible for a creation of God to separate from its Source, Whose essence is Oneness and all-embracing Love. According to Jesseph, the Course teaches that to have a physical life apart from God and spirit would be to have a life apart from Love. Thus, it is this belief in separation, that has spawned the conflict and pain which has characterized the human condition throughout its history. Jesseph explains that A Course in Miracles invites its students to discover their true Identity as spirit and mind which replaces their false identity as body and brain. As the creation of God and the mind¿s ¿decision maker¿ we have the power to choose whether to be guided by the ego¿s wrong-minded thought system of separation or the right-minded thought system of oneness represented by Jesus who is a ¿manifestation of the Holy Spirit.¿ This choice is fundamental to the miracle of forgiveness that is a primary goal of the Course¿s psychology. In this book the author goes into great detail regarding how the ego develops and represents a world view which determines our perceptions, therefore determines a way of life characterized by guilt and fear. Jesseph explains that forgiveness, as the goal of the Course¿s psychology, also represents a state of mind and a way of life, but one which is characterized by peace and love. Such a state of mind and way of living eventually leads to spiritual awakening so that the truth of God and Oneness finally dawns on our mind which, having chosen the ego, has fallen asleep to dream of separation along with the conflict, guilt and fear which inevitably follow. Thus, Jesseph asserts, forgiveness is the proper goal of psychotherapy. Basically this means that the therapist must be engaged in the process of undoing his or her own ego attachments to separation, guilt and fear. Interestingly, there is a supplementary pamphlet for the Course entitled Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice. This supplement is included in the most recent Third Edition of A Course in Miracles and basically summarizes the entire body of Course teachings, but does so in the context of psychotherapy. Like Jesseph¿s book, this pamphlet is most likely to be helpful to those who already have a fairly well developed familiarity with the Course itself. In fact, Jesseph¿s book is primarily intended for students of the Course although it should also be of value to those with an interest in the relationship between spirituality and psychology. A Primer of Psychology According to a Course in Miracles is a well crafted and detailed introduction to a form of spiritual psychology that seeks to teach us how to discover our true identity as mind, and then to train our minds
Guest More than 1 year ago
Joe R. Jesseph¿s A Primer of Psychology According to a Course in Miracles, is intended for the student of the Course, which is a thought-system that provides its followers with a ¿better way¿ to exist in the world. Jesseph, a retired psychologist and former staff member at the Foundation for A Course in Miracles, has been a student of the Course for over 20 years. The author effectively integrates his personal and professional experience to produce this well written, informative book. ¿Indeed, the Course can be understood as offering both a philosophy of life and a way of life, the central practical aspect of this being its psychology of forgiveness (xi).¿ To get the most out of Jesseph¿s book, the reader must be familiar with A Course in Miracles. For those who are not, it is best to begin in the appendix. Jesseph offers an overview of A Course in Miracles as well as a glossary of the Course¿s primary concepts. The overview briefly recounts the background of A Course in Miracles¿ founders, Helen Schucman and William Thetford then explains the Course¿s message of love and forgiveness. In the body of the text, Jesseph speaks at length about the ideology of the ego thought system, which states that humans are separate from God. In contrast, the Spirit thought system of the Course suggests the body is not real, the world we live in is an illusion, and the only thing that is real is the part of the mind identified as Spirit. ¿Spirit is the part that is still in contact with God through the Holy Spirit¿ (14).¿ When addressing the psychology of A Course in Miracles, Jesseph pulls heavily from the work of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalytical theory. Freudian concepts such as defense mechanisms, ego, id, and superego are compared with the Course¿s ideology of ego and guilt. Jesseph¿s writing style is approachable, not overly academic. The layman exploring A Course in Miracles will find this book to be a beneficial companion piece to the study materials around which the Course is structured. Jesseph¿s dissection of the psychological components that make up the foundation of human behavior provides value-added information for the student and teacher of A Course in Miracles. A Primer of Psychology According to A Course in Miracles is a powerful tool for the new or seasoned student as well as a compelling introduction to A Course in Miracles for the uninformed but curious.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Course In Miracles presents a unique approach to spirituality. It uses psychology to explain the crazy life we lead with our mind, and gives us a way out of our insanity through the practice of forgiveness. Both forgiveness and psychology are treated differently in the Course than what you usually expect. It is the psychology and forgiveness of Jesus. Dr. Jesseph¿s Primer focuses on the unique aspects of how the Course treats psychology and how it makes forgiveness work. In spite of all the books, tapes, and workshops produced by Dr. Kenneth Wapnick and the Foundation for A Course in Miracles, he has not dealt individually with this necessary topic. As any sincere Course student knows, the psychology and forgiveness that Jesus proposes is available through the Course books. However as a long-time (since 1982) student, I appreciate the clarity and simplicity of the way Dr. Jesseph presents this vital topic in his book. He makes the psychology of Jesus easier to assimilate. While this book is no substitute for the hard work of studying the Course¿s books, it is a wonderful reference to understanding ¿projection,¿ ¿dissociation,¿ ¿guilt,¿ ¿denial,¿ and all the other psychological terms that are used in the Course. In addition it ties the practice of forgiveness to the effective use of mind. If you are a serious student of the Course I suggest you purchase this book. You will find it a powerful reference tool and an effective addition to your library.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this book Dr. Jesseph gives us a clear and concise understanding of the basic themes taught in A Course in Miracles, and how Freud's insights are relevant to these teachings. This is an excellent book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For those interested in learning about the integration of psychology and spirituality, Dr. Jesseph's book, is excellent. It also presents in a unique way an overview of the principles and metaphysics of A Course in Miracles.