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Jones, J.W. (2001). Hans Loewald: The Psychoanalyst as Mystic. Psychoanal. Rev., 88(6):793-809.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Review, 88(6):793-809

Hans Loewald: The Psychoanalyst as Mystic

James W. Jones, PsyD, Ph.D.

In the recent discussion of psychoanalysis and religion, the work of Hans Loewald has played an increasing role (Finn, 1992; Jones, 1991; Leavy, 1988; Rothenberg, 1997). While agreeing that Loewald's theories have much to contribute to the psychoanalytic understanding of religion, this article will argue that, at a deeper level, Loewald's psychoanalytic theorizing has profound structural affinities with a fundamentally mystical vision of life and that Loewald's metapsychology represents a (conscious or unconscious) translation of a mystical attitude toward life into traditional psychoanalytic language.

Hans Loewald was born in Germany in 1906. His father died while his mother was carrying him, so he never knew his father. His mother, a gifted musician, consoled herself by playing Beethoven on the piano with Hans in the crib next to her. Thus he grew up in a world surrounded by the sound of the classical music.

He studied philosophy–his “first love” he called it–at the university. He worked with Martin Heidegger and then irrevocably repudiated him when Heidegger allied himself with the Nazi party. Still, the influence of Heidegger was enormous. Heidegger had developed his own philosophy of language that focused on the evocative power of words–their sound and the lineage of associations that follow them–rather than only on the denotative function of language as Anglo-American philosophy had done. Heidegger spoke of language as “the house of being” (quoted in Robinson, 1963).

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