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Hartocollis, P. (1974). Mysticism and Violence: The Case of Nikos Kazantzakis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 55:205-210.

(1974). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 55:205-210

Mysticism and Violence: The Case of Nikos Kazantzakis

Peter Hartocollis

As the violence of the world around him was approaching its climax and barely a year before he was overcome by the violence of cancer and old age, Freud (1938) entered these seemingly irrelevant thoughts in his notebook: 'Mysticism is the obscure self-perception of the realm outside the ego, of the id' (p. 300). Freud was not a mystic, but his interest in mysticism and the occult is well documented (Jones, 1957). That he should turn his attention to mysticism at this particular point of his life is not surprising either, for mysticism and the search for a mystical experience that Freud tried to explain with this late entry in his notebook are inherent in the yearning for peace and love that men besieged by violence and death might be expected to feel.

People wish for peace when they are either afraid or tired of war. But mystics and mystical movements do not usually appear in the midst of all-out wars, when violence and privation are upon everybody. Mysticism seems to be a manifestation of conflict with one's own aggression rather than with the violence of the outside world. The presence of external aggression, if directly threatening the individual, is not likely to produce a mystical reaction but, rather, fear, escape, or violence in self-defence. The mystical urge for peace and love develops in the context of a nominally peaceful society that promotes and vicariously enjoys violence, offering personal immunity from violence but leaving the impression that it is futile to oppose it.

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