Psychoanalytic Hierophanies 2: The Sacred in Transit

Legacies of the Occult - Psychoanalysis, Religion, and Unconscious Communication - Marsha Aileen Hewitt

Marsha Aileen Hewitt [+-]
University of Toronto
Marsha Aileen Hewitt is Professor of Religion at Trinity College and the Department for the Study of Religion in the University of Toronto. Professor Hewitt’s books include From Theology to Social Theory: Juan Luis Segundo and the Theology of Liberation (1990), Critical Theory of Religion: A Feminist Analysis (1995) and Freud on Religion (2014). She is a psychoanalyst in private practice.


Both psychoanalysis and the study of religion have a shared interest in investigating and seeking to understand the diverse array of human experiences of unseen worlds and hidden realities. To fully understand religions, scholars must not only investigate beliefs, actions and worldviews, they must also attend to the minds that create them. Psychoanalysis is indispensable to the study of religion. A critical engagement with the work of the historian of religions, Jeffrey J. Kripal, whose thought is strongly influenced by Myers, James, and psychoanalysis, is a central focus of this chapter. Whitley Strieber, the American author whose abduction experiences are discussed by Kripal, and Christoph Haizmann, the seventeenth-century painter whose pact with the Devil is interpreted by Freud, are discussed through the interpretive lens of trauma. Thomas Ogden’s work on dreams illustrates how to think psychoanalytically about subjective experience, no matter how strange. The discussion of Strieber and Haizmann from the perspectives of psychoanalysis and the study of religion creates a hermeneutical third that holds the tensions between dismissive skepticism and thoughtless belief in order to advance understanding the minds that create the strange worlds depicted in religion and cultural myths.

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Hewitt, Marsha Aileen. Psychoanalytic Hierophanies 2: The Sacred in Transit. Legacies of the Occult - Psychoanalysis, Religion, and Unconscious Communication. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Jul 2020. ISBN 9781781792797. Date accessed: 27 Feb 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.27418. Jul 2020

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