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University University Of Otago (UO)
Subject Study Interpersonal Psychotherapy at Otago

I experienced a lot of interest and pleasure in reading this dissertation. It was fascinating for me to get an inside view of evangelical Christianity, what is within the heartbeat of the evangelical faith, and how then this may create a distortion that sets up a false self within a person, in order to fit into the faith. It is clear that for the majority of people within the faith, this does not cause emotional conflict, yet there are others where it does, and these are the clients you write about.

You wrote on page 4 that one of the tenants of faith is forgiveness. That it must be received as an utterly undeserved gift or it cannot be received at all because all the credit and glory are Christ’s alone. This was very striking for me, and this tenant seemed to be part of what may generate the profound disjunction between psychodynamic psychotherapists and those of Christian faith.

You show us that where there is a multigenerational relationship with the evangelical faith, the child whose emotions run counter to the faith and to the family, the child can feel somehow wrong, a misfit, ashamed.

It is therefore important that you take us through Winnicott and the false self, and the inherent shame and guilt that becomes a part of this picture. You help me to really understand how deeply distressing it is going to be to feel unacceptable in God’s eyes.

It is here that I would have liked more discussion around this. You could have referenced here Bernard Brandshaft, and his work on pathological accommodation. This is most relevant and it should have a place in this dissertation.

It was also delightful to see you writing about the personal and the subjective God and how it is akin to the resonant matching and the proto-conversation. Something so deeply personal and foundational, and how it is fundamentally important for the nourishment of the psyche, the development of the being.

I am very sorry that you got such a one-eyed response in your training regarding the numinous, as though it was a mental illness with some kind of psychosis. How terrible to experience medically trained, or secular psychotherapists not being able to hold a connection to God, or Christ as a profound interpersonal, deeply spiritual experience, and only see it as an illness. If you are to read “The Poet’s Voice” by Russell Meares, you will read how important this connection is with the psyche, the spirit, and the numinous, and it is important in the conversational model.

I would like to see this dissertation be prepared for publication as it is an important dissertation for those in the faith, outside the faith, and for psychotherapists in general.

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