The Gift of Sublimation: A Psychoanalytic Study of Multiple Masculinities

By Nathan Carlin and Donald Capps

An astute exploration of the varieties of masculinity, both historical and contemporary, through the lens of the psychoanalytic concept of sublimation.

ISBN: 9780718894146


Today, diversity of gender and sexuality is beginning to be recognized and celebrated, even while many religious denominations still resist these cultural changes. The Gift of Sublimation offers pastoral interpretations of these social shifts in light of psychological principles, and argues that there is, historically, not only one view of masculinity but multiple conceptions. This discussion covers topics as diverse as the moral disapproval of masturbation; the efforts of some churches to convince homosexual men to adopt a heterosexual orientation; the dynamics of male envy of female longevity; the homosexual tendencies of King James I of England and VI of Scotland; and biblical portraits of God’s body, gender, and sexuality. Nathan Carlin and Donald Capps make special use of the psychoanalytic concept of sublimation: the redirection of sexual desires that is considered unacceptable or unworthy toward interests and aspirations that are considered acceptable and worthy. While the use of psychoanalytic hermeneutics here is likely to raise various red flags for potential religious readers, especially for those who have been informed that Sigmund Freud was hostile towards religion, this book presents a rather different view, focusing on religious sublimation.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 212

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Nathan Carlin is Associate Professor in the McGovern Centre for Humanities and Ethics at the University of Texas Medical School. He is the author or co-author of four previous books, including Religious Mourning (2014).

Donald Capps is Professor of Pastoral Psychology (Emeritus) and Adjunct Professor at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is the author of many books, including Reframing (1990), Agents of Hope (1995) and Men, Religion, and Melancholia (1997). His publications with the Lutterworth Press include At Home in the World (2013), The Resourceful Self (2015) and Still Growing (2015).



Part 1 – The Liberating Effects of Sublimation
1. Freud’s Idea of Sublimation
2. King James and the Sublimation of Aggression
3. 3 Methuselah and the Sublimation of Envy

Part 2 – Moral, Sexual, and Religious Issues
4. Masturbation, Homosexuality, and Moral Disapproval
5. Eleven Gay Men: A Case of Unexceptional Sublimation
6. God’s Gender Confusion and Sexuality in the Church



Endorsements and Reviews

This is an intriguing, important, and timely book on multiple masculinities depicted through the prism of the concept of sublimation. Carlin and Capps, using biblical and contemporary examples, invite the reader toward a more complex, flexible, and deeper understanding of the varied ways men sublimate their erotic desires with other men and women. Indeed, the book itself is an illustration of the sublimation of sexual instincts, revealed in the shared serious and playful scholarship and friendship of these authors.
Ryan Lamothe, Professor of Pastoral Care and Counselling, St Meinrad School of Theology