For many of us, some form of connection to what we understand as “spiritual” or “mystical” contributes, in many ways, to the meaningfulness of life as well as to our general wellbeing. But it is often difficult to describe these connections in words, and for those without religious affiliations, they may be tempted to avoid any discussion about this side of themselves. I am interested in ways to foster more communication about spiritual encounters. I am particularly seeking to explore how the way we use language can help us become more open about spiritual matters.
HOW TO TALK ABOUT SPIRITUAL ENCOUNTERS (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)
This book examines how language is used when speaking about spiritual and mystical encounters. It contends that the vague way of speaking that is typical of such communications is an intentional vagueness and a vagueness that aims to engage the imaginative participation of receptive listeners. The book details how this is achieved by focusing on what it refers to as the presence of “provocative gaps.” These gaps are understood here as open receptacles within linguistic space; they signal an absence or lack of specific content within a speech act. Gaps can be created by direct strategies such as missing out content, failing to refer to content or gradually shifting from concrete to abstract references, but gaps can also be generated by a rich variety of more subtle and indirect devices. Read more
NAVIGATING EVERYDAY LIFE: EXPLORING THE TENSION BETWEEN FINITUDE AND TRANSCENDENCE (Lanham MD: Lexington Press, 2018)
This book explores the special moments, big and small, that rupture the surface of everyday life and that can help readers adjust to the disrupting effects of major life crises. Peter Adams delves into the two forces, finitude (the aspects that constrain a person to a situation) and transcendence (those aspects that enable movement beyond such constraints). Building on this framework, Adams looks at the processes and circumstances that both facilitate and block the tensions between finitude and transcendence in life challenges such as separation, depression, chronic illness, injury, violence, addiction, aging, death, and forgiveness. Read more
REFLECTING ON THE INEVITABLE: MORTALITY AT THE CROSSROADS OF PSYCHOLOGY, PHILOSOPHY, AND HEALTH (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020)
This book combines evidence from several disciplinary fields to explore the varying ways each of us engages with the prospect of personal mortality. Chapters are organized around the question of how an ongoing relationship might be possible when the threat of consciousness coming to an end points to an unspeakable nothingness. The book then argues that, despite this threat, an ongoing relationship with one’s own death is still possible by means of conceptual devices, or ‘enabling frames’. Read more
- [ARTICLE] ADAMS, P.J. (2017) Oscillating imbalances: Responding to the existential in major life transitions. Journal of Social Work Practice, 31(3): 323-36. Read more
- [ARTICLE] ADAMS, P.J. (2016) Responding to the existentials of non-life-threatening chronic conditions. Medical Hypotheses, 93, 48–52. Read more
In 1991 I completed my PhD in psychology focused on the use of rhetoric in the way people communicate about religious or mystical experiences
- Peter J. Adams A Rhetoric of Mysticisim. Unpublished PhD thesis in Psychology at the University of Auckland. Read more.
- To be developed
- Research into the rhetoric used in communicating spiritual encounter