References - 'Emotionally, Soulfully, Spiritually Free to Think and Act' by Robert Powell, MD, PHD

04 Apr 2002 9:20 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)


1. Marcia Dunbar-Soule Dobson, Dr. Dunbars daughter, quoted in G. Allison Stokes, "Dunbar, Helen Flanders," Notable American Women: The Modern Period, Barbara Sicherman, and Carol Hurd Green, editors, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980, pp.210-212, p.211. Ms. Dobson is Professor of Classics at Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

2. She went by the purposely ambiguous name "H.Flanders Dunbar" between July 1929 and December 1939, and then changed her name legally to "Flanders Dunbar."

3. Robert Charles Powell, Anton T. Boisen (1876-1965): "Breaking an Opening in the Wall between Religion and Medicine," pp.47, special supplement to the AMHC Forum 29(1), October 1976 (The Association of Mental Health Clergy is now part of the Association of Professional Chaplains since merger in May 1998 with the College of Chaplains.)

Robert Charles Powell, Healing and Wholeness: Helen Flanders Dunbar (1902-59) and an Extra-Medical Origin of the American Psychosomatic Movement, 1906-36, PhD dissertation, Department of History (Medical Historian Training Program) Durham, North Carolina: Duke University, 1974, [reprint available via University Microfilms, order # 75-2415, on the internet at]

Robert C. Powell, "Helen Flanders Dunbar (1902-1959) and a Holistic Approach to Psychosomatic Problems. II. The Role of Dunbar's Nonmedical Background," Psychiatric Quarterly, Summer 1978, Vol.50, No.2, pp.144-57.

4. H. Flanders Dunbar, Symbolism in Medieval Thought and Its Consummation in the Divine Comedy. New Haven: Yale University Press,1929; equals her PhD dissertation, New York: Columbia University,1929; reprinted, New York: Russell and Russell, 1961; reprinted again, Atlanta, GA: SOLINET,1994.

5. "What Happens at Lourdes? Psychic Forces in Health and Disease." Forum, 1934, Vol.91, pp.226-231. The word "free" is italicized in the title of this essay because Dunbar italicized it in the phrase "free to think and act" on page 1 of this article.

6. Psychosomatic Medicine was founded by Dunbar in 1939 with the assistance of the Josiah C. Macy, Jr. Foundation and the National Research Council; she remained editor-in-chief until 1947; in 1942 the advisory board of the journal voted to form a sponsoring organization, the "American Society for Research on Psychosomatic Problems," which in 1948 was renamed the "American Psychosomatic Society."

7. Flanders Dunbar, Your Childs Mind and Body: A Practical Guide for Parents. New York: Random House, 1949.

Flanders Dunbar, Mind and Body: Psychosomatic Medicine. New York: Random House, 1947; as a "Book-of-the-Month Club" selection, this had numerous printings; a "new, enlarged" edition was issued in 1955.

8. H. Flanders Dunbar, Emotions and Bodily Changes: A Survey of Literature on Psychosomatic Interrelationships: 1910-1953, 4th edition. New York: Columbia University Press, 1955; reprinted, New York: Arno Press, 1976; the 1st edition, 1935, covered 1910-1933; the 2nd edition, 1938, had some additional editorial material; the 3rd edition, 1946, covered 1910- 1945.

9. Flanders Dunbar, Psychiatry in the Medical Specialties. New York: The Blakiston Division, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1959.

10. Dunbar, "What Happens at Lourdes?," p.226.

11. Flanders Dunbar, Your Pre-Teenagers Mind and Body, edited by Benjamin Linder. New York: Hawthorn, 1962.

Flanders Dunbar, Your Teenager's Mind and Body, edited by Benjamin Linder. New York: Hawthorn, 1962.

12. Definitions:

Spirit - [Hebrew, "ruach"] - "the animating or lifegiving power of which persons are the recipient"; "Gods dynamic and creative activity."

Soul - [Greek, "psyche"; compare to the Hebrew, "nephesh"] - "a divine substance within the human construct"; "an intrinsic part of personhood"; "it embraces the whole of [a persons] existence."

When I first drafted this manuscript I was dealing exclusively with materials from the 1920s and 1930s. Only later did I properly appreciate the need to ensure a correspondence between how these terms were used in that earlier era and how they would be appreciated today. The definitions here quoted are from Raymond J. Lawrence, Jr., The Poisoning of Eros: Sexual Values in Conflict, New York: Augustine Moore Press, 1989, pp.7, 6 (on the internet at Chaplain Lawrence, too, had to deal with the problem of consistency of meanings across many years, and, having checked with three theological dictionaries, I believe his careful definitions would be comfortable with Dunbar and her colleagues as well as current readers.

After completion of this manuscript, a brochure came in the mail describing a course on "Spirituality & Healing in Medicine," to be given 19-21 March 2000, "Under the Direction of Herbert Benson, MD." The "Course Description" notes research establishing "that when a person engages in repetitive prayer, word, sound or phrase and when intrusive thoughts are passively disregarded, a specific set of physiologic changes ensue. . . . These changes . . . have been labeled the relaxation response." The description then goes on to note later research establishing "that people experience increased spirituality as a result of eliciting this state [-- the relaxation response --] regardless of whether or not they used a religious focus. Spirituality was expressed as experiencing the presence of a power, a force, an energy, or what was perceived of as God and this presence was close to the person. Furthermore, spirituality was associated with fewer medical symptoms." (italics mine)

As you will note, Benson uses the term "spirituality" much the same as did Dunbar and her colleagues of the 1920s-1930s. However, whereas the earlier group saw soulfulness/ relaxation as enhancing ones receptiveness to the spiritual, Benson and colleagues apparently see it the other way around, with the spiritual enhancing ones potential for achieving soulfulness/ relaxation. Dunbar herself seems to have seen these as going hand-in-hand, with, if anything, the soulful encompassing the spiritual, which, one could argue, comes closest to the more classical theological view.

13. H.Flanders Dunbar, "Medicine, Religion, and the Infirmities of Mankind," 1934, Mental Hygiene, Vol.18: 16-25, pp.19-20.

14. Robert C. Powell, "Mrs. Ethel Phelps Stokes Hoyt (1877-1952) and the Joint Committee on Religion and Medicine (1923-1936): A Brief Sketch." Journal of Pastoral Care, 1975, Vol.29, No.2, pp.99-105.

15. Ethel P.S.Hoyt, letter to Dr. Slattery, 5 September 1922, in folder "Religious Healing, 1923," File A, Drawer 1, Association for Clinical Pastoral Education Archives.

Since I did my original research in the 1970s, the ACPE Archives have moved at least twice. As best I can tell, the files to which my notes refer are now housed as follows: "Records, 1930-1986 - Series VIII: Related organizations. Record Group No.001 (Formerly Yale Divinity Library MSS 71) F. Miscellaneous Other Organizations, 226 3409 through 226 3416," Archives and Manuscripts Department, Pitt Theology Library, Emory University, Atlanta, GA; these are indexed on the internet at

16. Helen Van Voast and Ethel P.S. Hoyt, "History of the [Joint] Committee on Religion and Medicine of The Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America and The New York Academy of Medicine, 1923-1936," ?1936, p.1, in folder "Religious Healing, 1923," ACPE Archives.

17. Van Voast and Hoyt, p.2

18. Ethel P.S.Hoyt, letter to Dr. E.H. Lewinski Corwin, 23 July 1923, in folder "Religious Healing, 1923," File A, Drawer 1, ACPE Archives, p.2.

Ethel P.S.Hoyt, letter to Dr. E.H. Lewinski Corwin, 24 October 1924, in folder "Religious Healing, 1923," File A, Drawer 1, ACPE Archives.

19. E.H. Lewinski Corwin, October, 1923, quoted in Van Voast and Hoyt, p.3.

20. Frederick Peterson, "Mind, Religion, and Medicine," in Contributions to Psychiatry, Neurology, and Sociology Dedicated to the Late Sir Frederick Mutt, J.R. Lord, editor. London: H.K. Lewis, 1929, pp.37-44, p.38.

21. Ethel P.S. Hoyt, "Points of Contact: Notes on Religion as a Factor in Maintaining Health and Curing Disease," p.1, 27 December 1925, in folder "Religious Healing, 1923," ACPE Archives.

22. "Report of the Joint Commission on Christian Healing in the Episcopal Church," Journal of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, 1931, pp.557-558.

23. Just before presenting this lecture that I realized that the contrast here proposed between "spiritual" and "soulful" notions in Dunbar's religious thought paralleled the contrast between "dynamic" and "organismic/ wholistic" notions I had documented twenty years earlier in her medical thought.

Robert C. Powell, "Helen Flanders Dunbar (1902-1959) and a Holistic Approach to Psychosomatic Problems. I. The Rise and Fall of a Medical Philosophy," Psychiatric Quarterly, Summer 1977, Vol.49, No.2, pp.133-52, p.136: "during the 1930s the dynamic mode [of psychosomatic theory] . . . emphasized psychical forces, etiology, specificity, and a focus on the past, e.g., psychogenesis; . . . the organismic, correlational mode . . . emphasized functions, meanings, and wholes -- such as character and constitution -- plus a focus on the future, e.g., purpose, prognosis, and prevention. It might not be too simplistic to say that the . . . [one] focused on the mind, . . . and the . . .[other] on the patient as a whole." Just after finishing my talk, a gentleman from the audience suggested that many disciplines were exploring this kind of contrast during the era between the two world wars.

24. Van Voast and Hoyt, p.7.

25. Van Voast and Hoyt, p.7

26.Powell, Healing and Wholeness, pp.117-118, 88, 114; she majored in mathematics and psychology, but took most of the premedical curriculum; the Rev.Dr. W. Russell Bowie was rector of Grace Church in New York, an outpost of the "Emmanuel Movement" for "medically supervised religious psychotherapy." (See also, Robert Charles Powell, review of Sanford Gifford, The Emmanuel Movement (Boston, 1904-1929): The Origins of Group Treatment and The Assault on Lay Psychotherapy. Boston: Francis A Countway Library of Medicine/ Harvard University Press, 1997. in Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 1999, Vol.73, No.2, pp.345-346.); the Rev.Dr. William Adams Brown had her in at least two courses and one tutorial.

27. Van Voast and Hoyt, pp.7, 10.

See, also, Robert Charles Powell, C.P.E.: Fifty Years of Learning, through Supervised Encounter with "Living Human Documents." booklet, 32pp. New York: Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, 1975, reprinted, 1987; reviewed in J.Pastoral Care, 1982, Vol.36, No.4, p.210.

28.Harrison Elliot [Professor, Union Theological Seminary], letter to Mrs. J.S. Hoyt, 10 March 1925, in folder "Religious Healing, 1923," ACPE Archives.

29. [?J.A.Hartwell?], letter to Mrs. John Sherman Hoyt, 13 December 1929, in folder "Religious Healing, 1923," ACPE Archives

30. Van Voast and Hoyt, p.7

31.[Joint Committee on Religion and Medicine] "Notes on Plan and Procedure of a Study Project in Religious Healing to be Conducted under the Auspices of the Joint Committee on Religion and Medicine" [1930-31], in Seward Hiltner, "Commission on Religion and Health -- Notes from 1923- materials to 1935," 1939, ["Notebook"] in the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America Archives, held by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., New York, New York. H. Flanders Dunbar, "Presentation of the History and Accomplishments of the Committee on Religion and Medicine to the Public Health Relations Committee of the New York Academy of Medicine," 1935, in Hiltner Notebook.

32. Powell, Healing and Wholeness, pp.100, 102, 118.

33.Helen F. Dunbar, "The Medieval Mass in the West," typescript, n.d. [?1923-4?], Box 4, Folder 2, Mary Anita Ewer Papers, Cornell University Library, p.13.

34. Allison Stokes, Ministry After Freud. New York: Pilgrim Press, 1985.

35.Robert C. Powell, "Emotions, Bodily Changes, and Symbolism: A Study of the Major Influence upon Doctor Helen Flanders Dunbar's Early Medical Writings, 1932-1936," 1969, Trent Prize Essay in the History of Medicine, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, p.2.

36. Powell, Healing and Wholeness, p.79.

37. Robert Charles Powell, "Dunbar, (Helen) Flanders," Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement Six, John A. Garraty, editor, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1980 ,pp.180-181. See also, Powell, Healing and Wholeness, pp.79-105.

James H. Leuba, The Psychology of Religious Mysticism. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1926, p.332.

38. Dunbar, Symbolism in Medieval Thought, p.xi.

39. Van Voast and Hoyt, p.2.

40. Powell, Healing and Wholeness, p.217.

41. Hoyt, "Points of Contact," p.1.

42. Anton T. Boisen, "A Project for the Study of Certain Types of Mental Disorder from the Religious Standpoint," memo from Boisen to Galen M. Fisher, Executive Secretary, Institute for Social and Religious Research, 1923, in "Dunbar Materials," a box of manuscripts and other items deposited by the Dunbar Estate, Union Theological Seminary Library, New York, New York. While the quotes are from Boisen, they are characteristic of comments by Hoyt and Dunbar during the period.

43.[?Alice Paulsen? Ethel Phelps Stokes Hoyt?] "A Suggestive Outline of Principles and Techniques to Promote Spiritual Health and Healing," not dated, but internal dating of this revision to at least 1939, catalogued in 1944 and filed under "Paulsen" in the pamphlet files of Union Theological Seminary Library, New York, New York.

44. Alice E. Paulsen, "Religious Healing: Preliminary Report," Journal of the American Medical Association, 1926, Vol.86, No.20, pp.1519-1524, 1617-1623, 1692-97, p. 1621-1622; while called "preliminary," it was not revised and was distributed as a pamphlet.

Dunbar, "Presentation," p.7; also the Rev.Drs. Thaddeus A. Cheatham, John A. Gardner, and Lyman R. Hartley.

45.Paulsen, p.1621. William T. Walsh, Scientific Spiritual Healing. New York: D. Appleton, 1926, Chapter II.

46. Walsh, pp.71, 105.

47. Paulsen, p.1693.

48."Trinity Dean [Percy . Kammerer] Seen as Faith Clinic Head: Academy of Medicine, Federal Church Council Unite in New York Project: Pittsburgh Divine Talked as Leader: Scientific Religious Center to Result from Study of Mind-Body Kinship," The Pittsburgh Press, clipping attached to telegram dated 3 March 1930, in Box 34, Federal Council Archives.

49. Dunbar, "Presentation," p.7.

50. [Joint Committee on Religion and Medicine] Minutes, Committee on Religion and Medicine, Medical Section, Committee on Public Health Relations, New York Academy of Medicine, New York, New York, 17 April 1931, p.48.

51. [Joint Committee on Religion and Medicine], p.47.

52. [?Committee on Public Health Relations?] Minutes, Executive Committee Meeting, New York Academy of Medicine, 21 November 1932, p.1.

53. Van Voast and Hoyt, p.8.

54. Dunbar, "Presentation," p.8.

Thaddeus A. Cheatham, "Report to the Committee on Religion and Medicine: of the Religious Work at the Presbyterian Hospital and in the Vanderbilt Clinic: from July 3 through Sept.12, 1931," 1931, p.2, in Hiltner Notebook.

55. Dunbar, "Presentation," pp.8-9.

56.William Adams Brown, "Statement of Aim of The Committee on Religion and Medicine: prepared for clergymen and laymen," 1 December 1931, p. 1, Union Theological Seminary Library.

H. Flanders Dunbar, "Prospectus (being a statement of the aim, scope, and work to date): Committee on Religion and Medicine, p.1, in Hiltner Notebook.

57. Brown, p.1.

58. Dunbar, "Prospectus," pp.1-2.

59. Brown, p.2.

60.H. Flanders Dunbar, "Aim and Scope: Committee on Religion and Medicine," File A, Drawer 1, ACPE Archives, p.2.

61. Dunbar, Symbolism in Medieval Thought, p.10, fn.19.

62. Dunbar, Symbolism in Medieval Thought, p.14, 11, 4.

Helen Flanders Dunbar, "The Sun Symbol in Medieval Thought," Master's Thesis. New York: Columbia University, p.65.

As an example of how insight symbolism gives "a glimpse of a beyond," Dunbar speaks of a "rock": "A geologist, or navigator charting a channel, will note on the map the conventional sign, thus using an arbitrary[-extrinsic] association symbol as a shorthand representation of the datum. The artist on the other hand may sketch the rock, or write a poem describing it in terms of other sense experience [,i.e., as a simile], which then becomes a descriptive[ intrinsic-comparison] symbol of the rock. Finally, the philosopher or the artist gifted with insight may look through the object to one or more deeper meanings, such as the stability of eternal law, and so use the rock itself as [a symbol proper, that is, as] an [interpretive, semblance or] insight symbol." Later, she adds even more possible deeper meanings: "It [the rock] may stand for Christ, as in the familiar hymn Rock of Ages; or it may exemplify that which each soul should be to its fellows, as Christ himself used the symbol with reference to Peter; or finally, the rock may mean the foundation of the heavenly kingdom." (The italicized and bracketed items are here added so that the passage may serve as a summary statement of Dunbar's comments on symbolism.) Symbolism, pp.8-9, 19-20, 11; "The Sun Symbol," p.4.

63.H. Flanders Dunbar, "The Faith and the New Psychology," Living Church, 13 January 1934, pp.333-336, p.11.

64.Helen [Dunbar], 21 September 1929, personal letter to Ted [Theodora Land], from Vienna, in the possession of Mrs. Theodora Land Wilson.

65. Powell,"Emotions," p.11-22.

66. Dunbar, Symbolism in Medieval Thought, p.10, fn.19.

67. Van Voast and Hoyt, p.9. Powell, Healing and Wholeness, pp.239-241.

Robert Charles Powell, "Whatever Happened to 'CPE' -- Clinical Pastoral Education?" keynote address honoring Anton Theophilus Boisen, delivered 18 March 1999, at the Ninth Plenary Meeting of the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy, paragraph 7 (on the internet at

68. H. Flanders Dunbar, "Confidential Report of the Director to the Committee on Religion and Medicine," 1 May 1934, p.5, in Hiltner Notebook.

69. Powell, "Whatever Happened to 'CPE'," paragraph 7.

The late Rev.Dr.Seward Hiltner, one-time secretary to Dunbar, later head of the successor to the Joint Committee, before becoming a statesman in pastoral theology, called the late Rev.Dr. Caroll A.Wise's book, Religion in Illness and Health (New York: Harper's Brothers, 1942),"the best and most complete description in print for the non-medical reader about psychosomatic interrelationships." Religion and Health. New York: Macmillan, 1943, p.276. Both books -- both authors -- are recommended to those enjoying the current essay.

70. The word "religion" does appear three times and the words "religious" and "clergyman" each appear once on page 58, but without any great significance. The Joint Committee is alluded to very inadequately on page xv as "a subcommittee of the Committee on Public Health Relations of the New York Academy of Medicine." A footnote on page xxvi of the "Second Edition," 1938, did provide a little more credit to the Joint Committee, but not much: "'(1930-31) as the Committee on Religion and Medicine assisted in the initiation of this volume . . . . The work of this subcommittee led to the formation of a joint committee representing the Academy of Medicine and the Federal Council of Churches'"

71. Dunbar, "Presentation," pp.19-20.

72. Dunbar, "Presentation," p.21.

73.Edward E. Thornton, Professional Education for Ministry: A History of Clinical Pastoral Education. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1970, p.77.

74. Mrs. John Sherman Hoyt, personal letter to Dr. William Adams Brown, 13 December 1935, in Hiltner Notebook.

75. Powell, Healing and Wholeness, pp.243-244.

[Mrs, John Sherman Hoyt], "Notes to talk over with Dr. Brown - December 12th, 1935," in Hiltner Notebook.

76. Dunbar kept control of her whirlwind empire through the end of 1939, at which time complications arose in her personal life -- a divorce from her husband followed by her father's death -- and she was herself ready for a rest. She withdrew to an only slightly quieter, less complicated life. A second marriage brought her the joy of a daughter, and she published seven more books plus twice as many articles between 1939 and 1959. Overall, however, her last twenty years would have tried the patience of a saint.

77. Dunbar, Psychiatry in the Medical Specialties, p.16.

78.Stokes, Ministry After Freud, p.84, quoting from my 18 April 1973 interview with yet another of Dunbar's executive secretaries.

79. Dunbar, "What Happens at Lourdes?" p.228.

80. Dunbar, "What Happens at Lourdes?" pp.229-230.

81. Dunbar, "What Happens at Lourdes?" p.226.

82. [?Paulsen?] "A Suggestive Outline," p.[i].

83.H. Flanders Dunbar, "The Clinical Training of Theological Students," Religion in Life, 1935, Vol.4, pp.376-383, p.379.

84. Dunbar, "The Clinical Training," p.380.

85.H. Flanders Dunbar, "Standards for Clinical Training of Theological Students," Bulletin of the American Association of Theological Schools, 1934, Vol.9, pp.68-80, p.80.

86. Dunbar, "Confidential Report," p.11.

87.H. Flanders Dunbar, "Mental Hygiene and Religious Teaching," Mental Hygiene, 1935, Vol.19, pp.353-372, p.370.

88. Dunbar, "Mental Hygiene," p.370.

89. For the oft-used phrase "living human documents" see Anton T. Boisen, The Exploration of the Inner World: A Study of Mental Disorder and Religious Experience (Chicago: Willet, Clark & Co., 1936. reprinted, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1952, and Philadelphia: Univ.of Pennsylvania Press, 1971), p.185:

". . . I have sought to begin not with the ready-made formulations contained in books, but with the living human documents and with actual social conditions in all their complexity."

90.H. Flanders Dunbar, "Fifth Annual Report of The Council for the Clinical Training of Theological Students," p.4, in "Dunbar Materials."

91. H. Flanders Dunbar, "Fourth Annual Report of The Council for the Clinical Training of Theological Students," p.4, in "Dunbar Materials."

92. Dunbar, "Prospectus," p.7.

93. On the internet at

94. Robert C. Powell, "Anton Boisen and Theological Reflection: The Importance of Being 'Still Crazy After All These Years'," delivered at Chicago Theological Seminary, 1987.

95. Powell, "Whatever Happened to 'CPE'," next to the last paragraph.

96. Dunbar, Mind and Body, p.49.

97.Flanders Dunbar, Psychosomatic Diagnosis. New York: Paul B. Hoebner, 1943; reprinted, New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1968, p.116.

98. Dunbar, "The Sun Symbol," p.72.

99. Dunbar, Mind and Body, p.73.

100. Anton T. Boisen, note on the flyleaf of a portfolio of his photographs of the training program at Worcester

(Massachusetts) State Hospital, "Christmas 1928," in "Dunbar Materials": "To Helen Flanders Dunbar[,] who as the first of my theological students has had much to do with this under taking."

Robert Charles Powell, M.D., Ph.D., a psychiatrist and historian, gratefully acknowledges that much of the research herein reported was conducted under the tenure of a fellowship from the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation and under US-PHS Training Grant TO 2 MH-05972-17. He may be contacted at 847/ 441-8283; 1520 Tower Road, Winnetka, Illinois, 60093-1627.