Aurore Dupin, alias George Sand, the product of a family that was in crisis because of the character of its members’ social class and religious convictions, experienced a powerful mystical episode at the age of 15 while at boarding school. This moment, recounted in Histoire de ma vie, did not lead her into a religious vocation, but would influence her social convictions and her psychological and artistic analyses.
This article shows how the Freudian reduction of mysticism to a regression to primary narcissism can be placed in perspective and extended through a consideration of the sublimatory dynamic animating certain great mystical figures, and the amorous interpersonal dimension of their life of faith. It shows Freud’s understanding of mysticism, in its difference from religion, and considers contributions by other authors such as C. Parat, S. de Mijolla-Mellor, and A. Vergote.
Adolescence, 2008, T. 26, n°1, pp. 143-157.
The spiritual exercise becomes a narcissistic strategy when brooding over one’s own wrongdoing leads to ecstasy ! This (fusional) narcissism of indifferentiation and the narcissism of differentiation (such as that of little differences) re-characterize the sin in the opposite sense, by being only indirectly interested in the sexual or aggressive wrong done to the object. We find these strategies in adolescence among the offspring of the New Age, often drug-addicted, and in certain behaviours.
Adolescence, 2008, T. 26, n°1, pp. 131-141.
If in the past pathological figures of the religious in part issued from the question of excessive ritualization (the obsessive side of religion highlighted by Freud), couldn’t one affirm that the model of the religious is today a narcissistic one ? For the essential is no longer the aspect of control (defence against death anxiety) of the religious (the obsessive type), or the search, under the sign of lack, for the never obtained object of mystical desire (along hysterical lines), but a validation through faith that is always unfulfilled in itself, and the subject’s correlative struggle against abandonment anxiety and the loss of the bond. From this perspective, we will explore the work of the negative at work in postmodern mysticism, in which the performing aspect of believing navigates between the void of abandonment and the figures of the religious space that it must create.
Adolescence, 2008, T. 26, n°1, pp. 101-116.
The author approaches mystical experience using classical narratives such as Plato’s myth of the cave and Moses’ conversion to shed light on accounts that come to us from current psychoanalytical practice. He shows that mystical experience is an intense moment, wherein the subject experiences in a flash the sensation of attaining the ideal enjoyment that was madly imagined in childhood and plunges in with pleasure, without knowing exactly what is going on. This is also the moment when the flaws and the shadows of early experiences come back to him in a painful way, and when he is in danger of giving in body and soul, since these are so dissociable from the enjoyment in question, which lends itself to symptoms, to addictions, and to passages to the act which are under their rule. It is finally and above all the instant where he is obliged to assume responsibility for the conflicts that result, if he wishes to balance these exceptional experiences, whose hopes he bears in the deepest part of himself, and the reality in which he must invest himself today.
Adolescence, 2008, T. 26, n°1, pp. 41-63.
Mysticism : one can’t talk about it, and one can’t not talk about it. It consists of remaining in the illusion and the tension of paradoxes, particularly life-death, through a revisiting of the adolescent processes that Etty Hillseum situates at the onset of puberty. She returns to the originary, and it is a matter of getting out of this. This is what is at stake in her encounter with her psychologist, Julius Spier, an encounter that was, first of all, eroticized, in transgression, afterwards idealized and sublimated, in the discovery all at once the capacity to be alone, to think, to dream, to pray, for both seekers after God.
The mystical experience would be rooted in enjoyment, in transgression and in death.
“ The mysticism of everyday life ” may be spoken of in the psychical economy of the subject in movements of libidinal hyperinvestment, of disinvestment and of re-investment in the reality of daily life, which brings renewed energy, for the deepening and widening of psychical and spiritual space, caring for others, the mission that must be accomplished and the witness that must be given.
Such was the path of Etty Hillesum, a mystic who remain “ on the march ” towards death, survival, as recounted in her diaries An Interrupted Life, between 1941 and 1943, from Amsterdam to Auschwitz.
Adolescence, 2008, T. 26, n°1, pp. 23-39.