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Winer, J.A. (2010). Mad and Divine: Spirit and Psyche in the Modern World by Sudhir Kakar University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, London, 2009; 178 pp.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 91(4):1034-1037.

(2010). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 91(4):1034-1037

Mad and Divine: Spirit and Psyche in the Modern World by Sudhir Kakar University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, London, 2009; 178 pp.

Review by:
Jerome A. Winer

Sudhir Kakar acknowledges that any engagement with the spiritual in psychoanalysis or academic psychology has long been regarded as suspicious and not to be considered seriously. Spiritual notions of an intimate connection between self and not-self are at odds with the rationalist's insistence on an enduring separation between the two. Kakar reminds us that the spiritual vision never lost its ascendancy in many non-Western societies. He claims that psychoanalysts such as Ferenczi, Jung, and, to this reviewer's initial surprise, Kohut, can be seen as representing such a position against the rationalist Freud.

In Kakar's view, there is a recent spiritual revival and probable integration of the spiritual and rational in psychoanalysis:

For me, the spiritual occupies a continuum from moments of self-transcendence marked by a loving connection to an object — nature, art, visions of philosophy or science, the beloved in sexual embrace — to the mystical union of the saints where the sense of the self completely disappears.

(p. 5)

Mad and Divine is Kakar's attempt to contribute to “the coming integration of the spirit and the psyche in the evolving psychology of the person”

(p. 6).

Kakar goes about this task by looking at the lives of holy men and saints from a psychoanalytic perspective and by considering psychoanalytic practice from the perspective of spirituality. The first study in the book is that of the childhood of a popular yet self-serving charismatic guru of the 1970s and 1980s, Rajneesh, later known as Bhagwan (Incarnation of God).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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