Devotion to Tibetan Lamas, Self Psychology, and Healing in the United States

This essay offers an alternative, self psychological model for understanding the possible healing dynamics of the guru-disciple relationship. Previous psychological studies often have interpreted the devotion of Americans to Eastern gurus as inherently enriching pathology for the disciple, yet this understanding does not helpfully explicate much data derived from more than two years of ethnographic fieldwork at a Tibetan Buddhist center in the United States. Instead, re-exploration of the dynamics of the transference and the vicissitudes of Buddhist practice for disciples reveals positive healing processes for some disciples as a result of guru devotion practice.

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