Psychology, Religion and Spirituality / Edition 1

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At a time when religious fundamentalism is having a huge impact upon the world, this book helps us to understand how people acquire, conceptualise and practise religion at both personal and social levels. At a time when religious fundamentalism is having a huge impact upon the world, this book helps us to understand how people acquire, conceptualise and practise religion at both personal and social levels.

  • Explores religion both as a social phenomenon and as a form of inner experience.
  • Explains why people believe what they do.
  • Looks at the effects of religious and spiritual belief upon behaviour, and upon physical and psychological health.
  • Outlines the various approaches to religious and spiritual experience.
  • Surveys all relevant research.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"These two books are valuable because, unlike the scientific materialists and religious exclusivists, the author's argue that there is a need (indeed, much scope) for critical thinking as well as spiritual hope in a world ravaged by instability, hatred and bloodshed." (Muslim News, 29 July 2011)

"I cannot recommend this book too highly." Charles T. Tart, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto

"Fontana’s sympathetic understanding of religion, his refined knowledge of Eastern traditions, together with a broad grasp of classic and recent psychological research, all combine to produce a work which rightly challenges the narrow assumptions of many psychologists of religion." Brian L. Lancaster, Consciousness & Transpersonal Psychology Research Unit, Liverpool John Moores University

"It would be difficult for anyone other than a rabid fundamentalist (of whatever persuasion) to fail to be fascinated, enlightened and enriched by David Fontana's lucid and masterful exposition of the interplay between 'Psychology, Religion and Spirituality' as set out in his book of that title ... The scope of this book is astounding, and its detailed and even-handed dissemination of factual information does its author much credit ... A truly vast canvas, in dealing with which editorial necessity limits me to some four hundred words; ten times as many would, I fear, have been insufficient to do full justice to the most rewarding task set me." The Christian Parapsychologist

"This book is both refreshingly original and packed with information. It offers a very clear review of empirical studies in religious research, and has the additional merit of being, unusually for textbooks on the psychology of religion, written by an author who actually demonstrates a very wide knowledge of the world religions, their history and teachings ... Both workers in Religious Studies who like a humanities-based approach to the psychology of religion, and lecturers in Psychology who may be seeking considered reviews of quantitative research studies, will find a book that well meets their needs here. I highly recommend this book - what Alan Baddeley did for memory psychology and Roger Brown did for social psychology, Fontana has done for the psychology of religion in writing a book that deserves to become known as a classic text." Social Psychological Review

"an impressive survey on the psychology of religion ... Fontana's background in transpersonal psychology and his unassuming style allow for an open-minded yet critical stance ... An excellent introduction to the psychology of religion" Choice

"From beginning to end, the author tries to bridge over the gap between Western and Eastern approaches to religiosity and spirituality and avoid all dominance of Christianity in research and theory in the area of psychology of religion ... The author is known also for his popular books, which may explain that this scientific book of his is written clearly and readably. As to the results, the book can be recommended not only to the clergy, professional psychologists, students and teachers of psychology of religion, but also to general public." Studia Psychologica

"a book which one hopes will be read by undergraduate psychology students as an antidote to the narrowness of many other academic psychology textbooks ... the coverage is exemplary, covering every conceivable angle, classification and type of explanation ... This is a very good overview of the whole field of psychology of religion, and one can only hope that it will be widely read." Scientific and Medical Network Review

"I have read several books on the psychology of religion over the years, but few have been as engaging as David Fontana's excellent study ... Throughout the book there are encyclopaedic references to psychological writers and there is a very full bibliography, so that the reader will have no shortage of follow-up material should she wish to pursue any theme or issue further. Moreover, this material is up to date, and reflects a range of psychological approaches. It's very impressive ... underlying much of the book there is that awkward question about the common ground - if any - between the major religious traditions. In our days that question has a new urgency, and this book will provide some fresh, if sometimes discomforting, impetus to it. Highly recommended." Regent's Reviews

“A great starting point for any empirical investigator … also useful for every scholar and student of psychology of religion. I can also recommend it to those who want to study spirituality from a psychological and experimental point of view. [It] provides both theoretical knowledge and empirical research findings on religious and spiritual development and behavior. It can be used as a textbook for psychology, education and theology at both undergraduate and graduate levels. It is necessary reading for every researcher in the fields of psychology, religion or spirituality.” Journal of Empirical Theology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405108058
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 6/9/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.61 (w) x 9.37 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

David Fontana is a Chartered Psychologist and a Chartered Counselling Psychologist. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, and was Founding Chairman of the Society’s Transpersonal Psychology Section. He holds a Ph.D. in Psychology, together with a number of other degrees and professional qualifications, and is currently Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Cardiff University and Visiting Professor of Transpersonal Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University. He has written widely on the psychology of spirituality and on the traditions and practices of the major Eastern and Western psycho-spiritual traditions. His 23 books are translated into 26 languages.

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Table of Contents


1. Why the Psychology of Religion?.

2. Definitions and Meanings.

3. Introspection and Inner Experience.

4. Approaches to the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.

5. Religious Beliefs and Practices.

6. Approaches to Spiritual Development.

7. Spirituality and the Brain.

8. The Origins of Religious Belief.

9. Religious Expression in Myth and the Creative Arts.

10. Varieties of Religious and Spiritual Experience.

11. Concepts of Self Soul and Brain.

12. Religion Health and Well-Being.




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