Date of Award

8-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

History

Major Professor

Denise Phillips

Committee Members

John Bohstedt, Ernest Freeberg

Abstract

This paper explores the intersection of psychology and religion in late-Victorian Britain through the life of medical psychologist and lay religious author, Dr. Alfred Taylor Schofield. Extending the work of recent scholarship on the contested nature of nineteenth-century sciences of mind, this study focuses on the interplay between popular and professional communities engaged in discourse over mind/body issues and the unconscious mind, and the relevance of these contemporary topics to debates over the certainty of natural versus supernatural knowledge.

In the period between 1890 and 1910, when psychology (‘the new psycho-physiology,’ in Britain) emerged as an autonomous scientific discipline separate from its past disciplinary home within moral philosophy, the application of psychology within medicine (early psychiatry) encountered institutional and philosophical impediments that hindered the incorporation of psychodynamic theories and new psychotherapeutic regimens into medical curriculum and clinical practice. This paper examines the rising cultural phenomena of faith healing, the responses of religious and medical communities to popular healing movements, and the implications that these movements had for both the development of early psychiatry as well as for contemporary transformations in religious sensibilities.

Utilizing the unique position of A.T. Schofield, who straddled a popular-professional divide in mediating between medical and lay religious communities, this paper seeks to explain how the proliferation of popular healing movements provoked professional interest in new psychotherapies while psycho-physiological explanations of faith healing altered lay religious understandings of ‘miracles’ and transcendental knowledge.

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