Soul and Psyche
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By Victor White, O.P.
Theology and psychology can make for uneasy intellectual companions. The remarkable legacy of Victor White, O.P., is that he brought the two sciences together in an achievement of sympathetic harmony and provocative insight, combining “his two interests of modern psychology with the sana doctrina of St. Thomas, trying to sift out what is good in modern psychology,” especially in the thought of C. G. Jung. Providing the clearest, most empathic presentation of the fruits of that lifelong pursuit, Soul and Psyche covers a wide and varied terrain of topics, including the common ground of religion and psychology; the Jungian approach to religion; the places of dogma and symbol in Christianity and psychology, respectively; the similarities and differences in the roles of confessor and therapist; the distinction between health (both physical and mental) and holiness; and the salutary psychological effects of religious practice.
Religion can no more exclude from the soul what belongs to the psyche than psychology can exclude from the psyche what traditionally is ascribed to the soul. (Victor White, O.P.)
Flannery O’Connor once observed (in reviewing Soul and Psyche) that the idea of religion for too many Catholics “remains trapped at the magical stage by static and superficial images which neither mind nor stomach can any longer take.” As relief for that condition of body, mind, and soul, Victor White’s Soul and Psyche remains as effective today as yesterday.
Victor White, O.P., (1902–1960) was an English Dominican friar, Reader in Theology at Blackfriars, Oxford, foundation member and lecturer at the Jung Institute of Analytical Psychology, and editor of the journal Dominican Studies. His writings, in addition to Soul and Psyche, include God and the Unknown and God and the Unconscious as well as many articles on matters both theological and psychological.
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