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Horton, P.C. (1974). The Mystical Experience: Substance of an Illusion. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 22:364-380.

(1974). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 22:364-380

The Mystical Experience: Substance of an Illusion

Paul C. Horton, M.D.

SUMMARY

In this paper I show with the help of an illustrative case how: (1) the mystical experience may represent a culmination of a transitional mode of relatedness; (2) the mystical experience itself may then become a transitional phenomenon; (3) multiple previous experiences with controlled illusion and hallucinogens may facilitate this experience; (4) the quintessence of the mystical experience specifically—and the transitional experience generally—is an upsurgence of residual primary narcissism; (5) such an upsurgence can be in the service of defending against overwhelming loneliness; therefore, the mystical experience can become a special, potentially adaptive, ego mechanism of defense.

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