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H., S.C. (1925). Religious “Love in Action”. Psychoanal. Rev., 12(4):414-419.

(1925). Psychoanalytic Review, 12(4):414-419

Religious “Love in Action”

Rev. S. C. H.

Order of the Holy Cross

Introduction and interpolations by Theodore Schroeder

In many places, I have published evidence tending to establish the sexual sources and nature of mystical experiences and religious love. Part of my theme may be expressed as follows: Sexual hyperaesthesia is usually accompanied by an extravagantly intense subjective conflict. In popular language, we may express this as the incompatibility of the desire for“moral” approval and for a completed love. Many of those who are thus afflicted, tend to exhibit their irreconcilable impulses, and the implied dissociation of affects within their personality, by means of attempted divorcement of the psychologic aspect from the physiologic aspects of their sexual unrest.

The physiologic aspects of sexual passion are felt or denounced as evil, perhaps as coming from some satanic source. Especially if the dissociation in consciousness, between the physical and psychologic aspects of sex, is approximately complete and the accompanying affects are very intense, then the ecstatic thrills, of sexual origin, will very frequently be referred to“superhuman” or“divine” sources, instead of being referred to unconscious determinants for an endogenous psychosexual discharge. By mental processes which measurably exclude the physical aspects of sexuality from consciousness, an endogenous orgasmic ecstasy is delusionally converted into or rationalized as an experience of God. Thus it is often valued as the most important distinction of the Christian mystics.

Father Bernhart Vaughn expressed it thus:“As a Christian I take life to be a love affair between oneself and God.” When more detailed descriptions of religious love are furnished it sometimes presents an interesting opportunity for experimentation. Such a description I have before me. The question is whether or not we can explain this author's religious love in terms of ordinary sexual passion, manifested as if toward a phantasmal superhuman lover, the creation of a morbid imagination, and serving as a substitute for a human love-object.

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