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The numinous experience in the context of psychopathology and traumatic stress studies


Lönneker, Christian; Maercker, Andreas (2020). The numinous experience in the context of psychopathology and traumatic stress studies. Culture & Psychology:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

The psychological phenomenon of a suddenly appearing, extremely enigmatic, and at the same time fascinating state in which one feels influenced by higher powers was described as a “numinous experience” by R. Otto and C. G. Jung. This condition is one of those subjectively non-rational experiences that have so far received little attention in cultural clinical psychology and yet have great potency to explain psychopathological phenomena. In the first section of this paper, we work towards a contemporary psychological definition both by focusing on the roles of paradoxical cognitions and dissociation and by presenting various differentiations and possible explanatory mechanisms. In the second part of this paper, we describe the numinous state as it occurs in selected clinical phenomena such as the subjective experience of potentially traumatic events including near-death experiences, sexual abuse of children, post-traumatic stress disorder, severe states of mourning (diagnosed today as prolonged grief disorder), and sleep paralysis. This paper is intended as a theoretical proposal aimed at better understanding subjectively non-rational states in patients.

Abstract

The psychological phenomenon of a suddenly appearing, extremely enigmatic, and at the same time fascinating state in which one feels influenced by higher powers was described as a “numinous experience” by R. Otto and C. G. Jung. This condition is one of those subjectively non-rational experiences that have so far received little attention in cultural clinical psychology and yet have great potency to explain psychopathological phenomena. In the first section of this paper, we work towards a contemporary psychological definition both by focusing on the roles of paradoxical cognitions and dissociation and by presenting various differentiations and possible explanatory mechanisms. In the second part of this paper, we describe the numinous state as it occurs in selected clinical phenomena such as the subjective experience of potentially traumatic events including near-death experiences, sexual abuse of children, post-traumatic stress disorder, severe states of mourning (diagnosed today as prolonged grief disorder), and sleep paralysis. This paper is intended as a theoretical proposal aimed at better understanding subjectively non-rational states in patients.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Social Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Cultural Studies
Social Sciences & Humanities > Anthropology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cultural Studies, Sociology and Political Science, Social Psychology, Anthropology
Language:English
Date:5 May 2020
Deposited On:11 Jan 2021 16:38
Last Modified:09 Feb 2021 21:28
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:1354-067X
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/1354067x20922139

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