We are all fundamentalists whether we acknowledge it or not. We were born into a world of myth and metaphor and have come to internalize the stories we were told as children as the literal interpretations of much greater and deeply symbolic lessons. When we fall into such patterns, according to author and psychotherapist Stephen Larsen, we lose all flexibility and freedom of thought. We become split by dualistic thinking—bad versus good; black versus white—and are weighted down by definitive, concretistic principles and behaviors that alienate us from one another. Dr. Larsen explains that we can avoid such pitfalls by identifying our “inner fundamentalist” and becoming more open-minded individuals.
In Fundamentalist Mind, Dr. Larsen follows suit with famed 20th century mythologist Joseph Campbell, citing both the creative potential and destructive power of myth. We can use myths as metaphors to guide us in our everyday lives. However, when we perceive myth as literal truth we cross a dangerous threshold. We see a severe example of this transgression with the religious extremists who feel justified in committing acts of violence in the name of God. By differentiating between reality and myth and continuing to question rigid thought patterns, Dr. Larsen says we encourage our own psycho-spiritual growth.
This book will help people of all religious, political, and social persuasions understand their inner fundamentalist. Dr. Larsen even provides exercises that help us identify negative thinking and teach us how to live more flexible, thoughtful lives. Liberal Christians, Buddhists, Gnostics, born-again pagans, as well as followers of transpersonal psychology and esoteric studies will all find much food for thought here, but this work is for anyone interested in becoming a fair and
Stephen Larsen has, in great width, approached fundamentalist thinking at its roots. This is an inspired work. Anyone who reads this book will benefit from this wealth of knowledge.
—David Lindorff, author, Pauli & Jung: The Meeting of Two Great Minds
Stephen Larsen has previously opened new doorways for exploring and healing the inner world through shamanism, archetypal studies and neurofeedback. Now, in his exciting and important new work The Fundamentalist Mind, Dr. Larsen combines his expertise with history, politics and religion to grapple with crises threatening our very survival.
—Edward Tick, PhD., author, War and the Soul and The Practice of Dream Healing,
Stephen Larsen's The Fundamentalist Mind stimulates us to look deeper into the spiritual and psychological wellsprings of fundamentalism, whether religious or secular, in all its forms. The journey on which he takes us is not merely political or sociological, but one that leads to roots of each of our most cherished beliefs. This is a must-read for understanding our own role in the headlines of fear we face each day.
—Neil Douglas-Klotz, author, The Sufi Book of Life, co-author, The Tent of Abraham