The course will examine the psychological thought of the modern mystical traditions in Europe. We shall focus on two topics with wider cultural implications: The soul and the heart.
In the revival of mysticism today, mysticism has become more psychological while psychology is increasingly interested in mysticism. This course will provide an entry into the complex world of modern mysticism, through studying its psychological thought. We shall begin with exploring the interpretations of mystical experience offered by psychoanalysts in the twentieth century, starting with Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung and ending with contemporary thinkers such as James Hillman. However, we will see that the European mystical traditions, including Kabbalah in the Jewish world and those of the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant worlds, developed their own elaborate systems of psychological thought. Thus, we will mostly examine mystical psychology on its own terms. We shall especially look at two terms that are very much in use also in general culture: the heart (as an emotional rather than a physical center!...) and the soul, looking at the unique mystical concepts of their nature and destiny and asking if there were influences and meetings between the different religions.