Psychoanalytic Hierophanies: The Sacred in Transit
Legacies of the Occult - Psychoanalysis, Religion, and Unconscious Communication - Marsha Aileen Hewitt
Marsha Aileen Hewitt [+]
University of Toronto
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.