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What Matters?Ethnographies of Value in a Not So Secular Age$
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Courtney Bender and Ann Taves

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156851

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156851.001.0001

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Conquering Religious Contagions and Crowds

Conquering Religious Contagions and Crowds

Nineteenth-Century Psychologists and the Unfinished Subjugation of Superstition and Irrationality

(p.61) Conquering Religious Contagions and Crowds
What Matters?

Christopher White

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines how psychological studies concerning religion and its relationship with pathological mental states were reworked by religious Americans in an effort to reform religion and regain their concept of belief. Particular attention is given to religious liberal Horatio Dresser. Addressing the claim of skeptical psychologists that there was “no difference between spiritual consciousness and therapeutic suggestion,” Dresser insisted that although both receiving the positive message of the gospel and therapeutic suggestions may result in mental healing, spiritual consciousness involved commitment, emotion, submission, love of God, and ultimately a new orientation to life. He added that “to pass beyond the absorbing idea to vivid realization of the presence of God is to enter a superior region.”

Keywords:   Horatio Dresser, pathological mental states, spiritual consciousness, therapeutic suggestion, religion

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