Transpersonal psychology : A bibliography

by on Friday, 12 June 2009 Comments

There have always been psychologists who have felt that academic psychology, as embodied in its curriculum and its textbooks, was not adequately reflecting the whole range of human experience. Due to its too rigid paradigm, which originally was borrowed from the natural sciences, academic psychology still tends to overlook or even arbitrarily discard some areas which in all cultures - in the East as well as in the West - have always been considered as essential or, at least, as very important parts of human life.

Since the 1940’s, the demand for an expansion of the psychological paradigm became ever more insistent and widespread, giving birth to the humanistic revolution in psychology. For nearly three decades, Maslow was one of the pillars of that movement. In 1968, Maslow was elected President of the American Psychological Association. He then realized that even humanistic psychology was not enough, and that there was a need for a still further expansion of the psychological paradigm. He then became a co-founder of transpersonal psychology, which he described as “transhumanistic psychology”, “transcendental psychology”, or “height psychology”. While still incorporating and confirming all the positive contributions of behavioristic psychology, Freudian psychology and humanistic psychology, it adds the spiritual dimension (“spiritual” in a broad sense, i.e. either in a religious sense or not) as an essential part of the human potential: an insight already found in all cultures

For the past thirty years, I have continually observed the growth of the transpersonal movement. While reading numerous books and articles on this new development, I became interested in accumulating relevant references, i.e., those usually listed at the end of scholarly books as well as those found at the end of relevant articles in various journals of psychology. As the bibliography kept growing, I was amazed at the tremendous abundance of psychological materials dealing with transpersonal or spiritual themes, even though these writings do not always appear expressly under a “transpersonal” label, and even though some of the writers would not necessarily call themselves “transpersonal” psychologists.

The compilation work, just described above, led me to a second discovery: namely, academic psychology, as it is transmitted to students through its curriculum and textbooks, not only fails to faithfully reflect the whole range of human experience (as I have already remarked) but, ironically, it even fails to reflect the wealth of psychological literature itself. As a result, we are faced with two partially different psychologies: the psychology found in many textbooks (with a few exceptions), and the much more comprehensive, human and meaningful psychology found in the psychological literature.

While I was accumulating and classifying this huge amount of materials, I constantly had in mind graduate students in psychology and in other closely related fields. To them this bibliography on transpersonal psychology is especially offered as a source of suggestions for their term papers, master’s theses, doctoral dissertations, and other research projects. They will find in it a variety of “new” areas which might attract their curiosity and interest, and challenge their intellectual abilities. Besides, within each of these areas, they will also find many meaningful research topics together with a considerable amount of references to relevant documentation. I also hope that they will get acquainted with the new methods presented in the section on methodology, and that they will be bold enough to use some of them in their research projects.

Download here the pdf version of the bibliography 

(Drawing by Li Jinyuan)

André Lefebvre (李安德)

André Lefebvre, PhD has taught psychology in several Taiwanese universities for the last decades.

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