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Tip: To sort articles by year…

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After you perform a search, you can sort the articles by Year. This will rearrange the results of your search chronologically, displaying the earliest published articles first. This feature is useful to trace the development of a specific psychoanalytic concept through time.

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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.


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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