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Palgrave Macmillan

Depth Psychology and Mysticism

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  • © 2018


  • Explores the depth psychological significance of mystical experience from an interdisciplinary perspective.
  • Brings together contributions of scholars and practitioners/analysts.
  • Shows that depth psychological and traditional readings of mystical phenomena are not incompatible, but may be mutually enriching.

Part of the book series: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Mysticism (INTERMYST)

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About this book

Since the late 19th century, when the “new science” of psychology and interest in esoteric and occult phenomena converged – leading to the “discovery” of the unconscious – the dual disciplines of depth psychology and mysticism have been wed in an often unholy union. Continuing in this tradition, and the challenges it carries, this volume includes a variety of inter-disciplinary approaches to the study of depth psychology, mysticism, and mystical experience, spanning the fields of theology, religious studies, and the psychology of religion. Chapters include inquiries into the nature of self and consciousness, questions regarding the status and limits of mysticism and mystical phenomenon, and approaches to these topics from multiple depth psychological traditions.

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Table of contents (16 chapters)

  1. Historical & Theoretical Approaches


“Recent developments in both depth psychology and the study of mysticism make this an opportune time to reassess the relationship between the two fields. The contributors to this volume, who come from a diversity of disciplinary perspectives, have produced a rich collection of stimulating essays. Taken as a whole, the volume serves as a comprehensive and reliable introduction to the best current scholarship on this fascinating topic.” (Arthur Holder, Professor of Christian Spirituality, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA, USA)

“Werner Heisenberg once said that the most fertile developments in the history of thought are born at the intersection of two currents of ideas.  This timely volume beautifully fulfills this promise.  It brings together papers on depth psychology and religion, and argues for an experiential hermeneutic of numinous experiences, made possible—uniquely—by depth psychology’s vision.  For those of us working in the trenches of depth psychotherapy who keep encountering the numinous ‘light inside the darkness’ of clinical process, these essays are a vital contribution to our work and understanding.” (Donald Kalsched, Clinical Psychologist and Jungian Psychoanalyst, Santa Fe, NM, USA, and author of Trauma and the Soul: A Psycho-spiritual Approach to Human Development and its Interruption, 2013)

“It is well known to historians of depth psychology that the word ‘mysticism’ was loaded with negative connotations for most of the twentieth century…Times have changed in the field of psychoanalysis, and now the intersection of depth psychology and mystical experience activates the excitement of clinicians and theoreticians alike. The current volume is a remarkable testimony to the emerging intersection of individual spiritual experience and the explorations of depth psychological clinicians. It is an important read for anyone who is serious about the current understanding of these issues.” (Richard Stein, Jungian Analyst, San Francisco Jung Institute, San Francisco, CA, USA)

“When various academic disciplines collide, on occasion they eventually collude and even congeal into new forms of knowing. Such a series of encounters and armistices is nowhere more true than in the essays that comprise Depth Psychology and Mysticism. Herein an amazing roster of scholars cast both a ‘reverent’ and a critical eye on these two rich areas of study, so to ‘forge a new context,’ as one contributor phrases it, that reimagines rich and original third perspectives from the convergence of psyche, body and spirit in renewed cultural contexts.” (Dennis Patrick Slattery, Professor Emeritus, Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, CA, USA, and author of A Pilgrimage Beyond Belief: Spiritual Journeys Through Christian and Buddhist Monasteries of the American Southwest, 2017)

“Depth Psychology and Mysticism … offer[s] a fresh, inter-disciplinary perspective from the fields of theology, religious studies and depth psychology that demonstrates the extraordinary developments taking place in the field.” (Brendan Collins, Professor Emeritus, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA, USA, and Director, Center for Contemplative Psychology, Berkeley, CA, USA)

“This splendid collection offers a view of mysticism from tradition-based and depth psychological perspectives. The book sheds light on Jung and Hillman, Hasidism and Zen Buddhism, alchemy and love mysticism, providing a glimpse into the range of views and practices that continue to inform the spiritual quest for self-knowledge.” (Christopher Key Chapple, Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology and Director, Master of Arts in Yoga Studies, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, USA)

Editors and Affiliations

  • Jesuit School of Theology, Santa Clara University, Berkeley, USA

    Thomas Cattoi

  • Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, USA

    David M. Odorisio

About the editors

Thomas Cattoi is Associate Professor of Christology and Cultures, Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University and Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA. He co-edits the journal Buddhist-Christian Studies and is the author of Divine Contingency: Theologies of Divine Embodiment in Maximos the Confessor and Tsong kha pa (2009) and Theodore the Studite: Writings on Iconoclasm (2014). 

 David M. Odorisio  is Director of The Retreat at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, CA, and teaches in Pacifica’s Mythological Studies graduate degree program in the areas of methodology, psychology and religion, and comparative mysticism.  He has published in numerous journals at the intersection of depth psychology and religious studies.

Bibliographic Information

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