The Enigma of the Oceanic Feeling: Revisioning the Psychoanalytic Theory of Mysticism

Hardcover | June 3, 1999

byWilliam B. Parsons

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This study examines the history of the psychoanalytic theory of mysticism, starting with the seminal correspondence between Freud and Romain Rolland concerning the concept of "oceanic feeling." Providing a corrective to current views which frame psychoanalysis as pathologizing mysticism,Parsons reveals the existence of three models entertained by Freud and Rolland: the classical reductive, ego-adaptive, and transformational (which allows for a transcendent dimension to mysticism). Then, reconstructing Rolland's personal mysticism (the "oceanic feeling") through texts and lettersunavailable to Freud, Parsons argues that Freud misinterpreted the oceanic feeling. In offering a fresh interpretation of Rolland's mysticism, Parsons constructs a new dialogical approach for psychoanalytic theory of mysticism which integrates culture studies, developmental perspectives, and thedeep epistemological and transcendent claims of the mystics.

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This study examines the history of the psychoanalytic theory of mysticism, starting with the seminal correspondence between Freud and Romain Rolland concerning the concept of "oceanic feeling." Providing a corrective to current views which frame psychoanalysis as pathologizing mysticism,Parsons reveals the existence of three models ent...

William B. Parsons is at Rice University.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:264 pages, 9.29 × 6.3 × 0.98 inPublished:June 3, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195115082

ISBN - 13:9780195115086

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"Parsons' tour de force enriches both the psychology of mysticism and the understanding of Freud's later view of religion, interpreting them in the context of Western European culture in the twentieth century...."--Religious Studies Review