The psychological role of homoeroticism in the spiritual growth of priests : a study of individuation processes and homoerotic sexualities

Taute, Harold Graeme (2001) The psychological role of homoeroticism in the spiritual growth of priests : a study of individuation processes and homoerotic sexualities. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

The study explored the psychological role of homoeroticism in the spiritual growth of priests, using Grounded Theory and James Fowler’s stages of faith development as the basis for the research methodology. Three Anglican priests were interviewed using a semi-structured interview format. The research interview combined Fowler’s Faith Development Interview Guide and a semi-structured interview in order to ascertain the priests’ level of spiritual development, as well as to explore their experience of the homoerotic component to their sexuality, and its influence on their spiritual growth. The interviews and iterative analysis focussed on four major questions: (1) Are priests who experience and actively work at integrating the homoerotic aspect to themselves assisted thereby in their spiritual growth, and if so, how might this be accounted for?; (2) Following Fowler’s model of spiritual development, what processes characterise each priest’s approach to meaning-creation in their lives?; (3) Following Fowler’s model, can the psychological work of engaging with and accepting homoeroticism be conceived of as serving an initiatory function in the emergence of new processes of meaning-creation?; (4) What role does homoeroticism serve in the spiritual growth of priests? The interpretative phase consisted of three stages. A grounded theory analysis of each interview was undertaken, developing a model for understanding the role of homoeroticism in spiritual growth. In the second stage, the priest’s level of spiritual development was ascertained, using Fowler’s Faith Development Guide. The third stage linked each participant’s level of spiritual development (in Fowler’s terms) with their core stories regarding experiences, meanings, and roles of homoeroticism. Finally, an integrative theory of the role of homoeroticism in spiritual growth was developed, using Jungian and post-Jungian theory as a basis for the discussion. The results suggested that homoeroticism did not play any role in spiritual growth and individuation separate to the manner in which it was experienced as having been constructed by society and the Church, and separate to the manner in which each priest in the study expressed, experienced, or engaged with it. In this context the experience of homoeroticism appeared to play a diversity of roles, including representing the collective and personal shadow, the archetypal anima/animus, the archetypal puer/senex constellation, the transcendent function, and thereby, as an expression of these roles, contribute to the emergence of new processes of meaning-creation in the spiritual growth and individuation of priests.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Homosexuality, Christianity, Psychology, Religion
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Psychology
Supervisors:Knight, Zelda and Lindegger, Graham
ID Code:3135
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:17 Jul 2012 08:17
Last Modified:17 Jul 2012 08:17
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