The focus of this paper is on an aspect of the psychology-buddhism dialogue that interests you. The paper could be a
scientific-type paper where you review, evaluate or summarize existing research
philosophical-type paper where you develop a specific argument or perspective
creative-type paper where you try to develop an innovative idea relevant to psychology and Buddhism.
The length should be a maximum of 10 (+ one or two) double-spaced pages (excluding references). In addition to secondary references (e.g., books) to support your points, please draw on primary sources (i.e., sutras, scientific research) if they are relevant. Be careful with information that you locate on the worldwide web as much of it is plain wrong and misleading. Make sure it is valid and accurate. If you need help locating or evaluating references let me know.
Make sure you begin your essay with a clear statement of what you intend to argue. What is the purpose of your paper? Use appropriate headings to help structure your paper. Provide evidence for the main points you make. Ensure that your argument is coherent and clear and is linked to the main goal of your essay. Be careful that you do not go off on unnecessary tangents that may be interesting but irrelevant for your essay. You should include a conclusion, summary or synthesis that provides the reader an overall evaluation of what you have argued in the paper. Write in the third person.
Proofread thoroughly. Poor editing, grammar and typographical errors will reduce the quality of the paper and your grade. Be careful to not plagiarize as this can lead to serious academic penalties which will appear on your transcript and seriously affect your final mark. Please keep one or two draft versions of your essay. The breakdown of the grading for the essay will be as follows:
Thesis/Purpose of Essay (2)
Introduction/ Background (4)
Main Body/Major Argument/ Points (10)
Quality of References (2)
Writing Quality (8)
References should be cited using APA but other approaches are acceptable. Consult on-line or in-person services at U of T if you are not comfortable writing essays or need support. You can also come to me or the teaching assistants if you need some input or advice, especially early on.
Suggested topics for the essay are listed below. If you want to come up with your own topic please let me know ahead of time so I can make sure it fits with the course.
Choose a form of emotional suffering found in the West (such as anger, depression, anxiety, addiction) and describe/ discuss/ evaluate a therapeutic approach consistent with Buddhist psychology. If you choose this type of topic bring a level of criticism to the information you include. Evaluate the evidence.
Mindfulness is increasingly being used to treat medical and emotional disorders. Choose a specific disorder (medical or psychological) and critically review the scientific status of mindfulness-based interventions in this area. This topic will appeal to students who like and are able to criticize scientific research.
Explore the similarities and differences between the Buddhist understanding of mindfulness (as described in the Pali sutras such as the Satipatthana Sutra and commentaries) and the western applications of mindfulness (e.g., Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction).
There have been few attempts to synthesize western and Buddhist psychotherapy. Develop a unique Buddhist psychotherapy of your own based on your understanding of psychology and Buddhism. This topic will appeal to people to creative students who can see the therapeutic aspects of Buddhism.
Show how Buddhist psychology and psychoanalysis complement and conflict with each other.
Compare and contrast Buddhist psychology and Jungian analytic psychology.
Compare and contrast Buddhist and behavioral psychology. Conclude with an evaluation of these two approaches to human behavior.
Compare and contrast Buddhist and cognitive psychology. Conclude with an evaluation of these two approaches to human behavior.
The Eight Fold Path can be considered a psychology of personal transformation. Develop a psychotherapy based on the 8 paths.
The Four Noble Truths were the first discourse that outlined the major principles of Buddhist psychology. Re-interpret the 4 Noble Truths from a psychoanalytic perspective.
The Four Noble Truths were the first discourse that outlined the major principles of Buddhist psychology. Re-interpret the 4 Noble Truths from a cognitive-behavioral perspective.
Critically evaluate the similarities and differences between positive psychology and Buddhist psychology.
Develop a cognitive psychotherapy based on the Buddhist teachings on perception, cognition and thought.
Compare and contrast the Buddhist and psychoanalytic description of the Unconscious.
Discuss how the self is described in Buddhist, psychoanalytic, behavioral and cognitive psychology.
Develop a psychotherapy based on the Buddhist teachings of the 12 Links of Dependent Origination by applying each Link to the treatment of a specific psychological condition.
Conduct a psychological analysis of one or more of the key events of the Buddha’s life.
Review the neuroscience of meditation evidence or any other aspect of Buddhist psychology (e.g. meditation).
Interpret Nirvana or Enlightenment in psychological terms.
Choose a (or several) Sutra and translate them into the terms and concepts of western psychology or psychotherapy.
In recent years loving-kindness meditation has become popular. Review the scientific evidence for this modality
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