"Care of the Afflicted Flock": Pastoral Counseling, Psychiatry, and Disorderly Sexual Subjects
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CitationBlock, Mara Gertrude. 2015. "Care of the Afflicted Flock": Pastoral Counseling, Psychiatry, and Disorderly Sexual Subjects. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractWhile scholars have argued that modern medical authority over sexuality stands in some relation to earlier religious discourse, modern religion and its new relationship to medicine are absent from these narratives. This dissertation takes up just such a study through narrating the emergence of modern pastoral counseling and its assumptions, categories, and therapeutic techniques, all of which were deeply entangled with modern sciences of the mind. Modern pastoral counseling marks a decisive discontinuity from the long tradition of philosophical and Christian care for the soul in its relation to medicine and in its view of the self. This dissertation argues that mid-century American Protestant understandings of sexuality depended on a modern psychological conception of the self.
Through analysis of archival documents, theological texts, and hospital case histories from the early clinical pastoral training movement, this study investigates the shifting pastoral rhetoric used to understand sexual maladjustment, and it traces shifting attempts to rework Christian sexual ethics. While psychiatry was the primary framework for making sense of queer love—at times even for queer people themselves—some fashioned new and imaginative languages for expressing forms of queer love and queer religion. Juxtaposing clinical discourse with these diverse genres not only illuminates the limits of contemporary debates about religion and sexuality, but it also illustrates the importance of studying entanglements of religion, science, and medicine in everyday life and social practice.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:23845473
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