Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

pp 594-596

Mysticism and Psychoanalysis

  • Alan RolandAffiliated withNational Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis


In the last 30 years, two broad attempts have been made to challenge the classical Freudian psychoanalytic narrative on mysticism in which spiritual experiences and practices have been viewed as regressive and/or psychopathological, personified by Jeffrey Masson (1976, 1980), noted Sanskritist turned psychoanalyst. The first attempt centered on South Asian studies, particularly but not exclusively on major Hindu spiritual figures, similar to Masson. Methodologically, it uses applied psychoanalysis involving textual analyses and ethnographic interviews. Those who have contributed most directly to this new psychoanalytic perspective are the Indian psychoanalyst, Sudhir Kakar, psychoanalytically-oriented professors of religion, Jeffrey Kripal and William Parsons, and the anthropologist, Gananath Obeyesekere. The second movement involves psychoanalysts (Nina Coltart, Paul Cooper, Michael Eigen, Alan Roland, and Jeffrey Rubin among others), who are involved in one or ...

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