Psychology of Mystical Consciousness

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English

Carl Albrecht: Psychology of Mystical Consciousness is the first English translation of the ground-breaking study by the German medical doctor, psychotherapist and mystic Carl Albrecht (1902-1965), first published in 1951 as Psychologie des Mystischen Bewußtseins. The book, reprinted in Germany in 1976, 1990 and 2018, has remained untranslated to date and is now made available to international scholarship in an annotated English edition. The book offers the results of Albrecht’s meticulous long-term empirical research into mystical consciousness. Albrecht’s results are unique in that they derive from a pioneering methodological approach based on ‘Autogenic Training’, which enabled a practitioner to verbalize spontaneously what he/she is experiencing while immersed in an altered state of consciousness. These spontaneous utterances of mystical (and non-mystical) experience were concurrently recorded by Albrecht (supplemented by his own utterances recorded by a confidante) and provided him with invaluable empirical data for his detailed phenomenological analyses. The outcome was a most comprehensive, systematic psychological phenomenology of mystical consciousness informed by long-term empirical research, which is unique as regards authenticity, immediacy and scope. Unlike other empirical studies in this field, which are either based on records of mystical experience retrieved retrospectively, or derived from behaviorist research, or both, Albrecht’s empirical data originate from immediate (not rationally mediated) verbal testimonies spoken by subjects while transported into a mystical state, in addition to records of great mystics from Eastern and Western mystical traditions. Psychology of Mystical Consciousness is now accessible to English-speaking scholars and scientists world-wide and will surely provide a new impetus to interdisciplinary enquiries into mysticism and the spiritual nature of man.

English

Carl ALBRECHT (1902-1965), a German medical doctor, psychotherapist developed an innovative method of meditation (based on ‘Autogenic Training’) which allowed practitioners to speak while immersed in altered states of consciousness. When practising the method himself, “a path towards the secret within” was opened up to him, culminating in several profound mystical experiences. As a scientist he endeavoured to give account for the phenomenon rationally. He compiled the recorded ‘spontaneous utterances’ obtained from subjects (and his own, recorded by his wife), intending to recapture the domain of mystical consciousness that is accessible to empirical investigation, i.e. within the confines imposed by language and method, by employing the method of psychological phenomenology. Psychology of Mystical Consciousness offers a vibrant and sincere account of Albrecht’s meticulous empirical research into the nature of human consciousness, resulting in one of the most comprehensive psychological phenomenologies of mystical (and non-mystical) states currently available.

Franz K. WOEHRER, was associate professor of English Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria (until his retirement in 2015). He studied English, psychology and philosophy at the University of Vienna (MA 1977, PhD 1982). His doctoral thesis Thomas Traherne: The Growth of a Mystic’s Mind was published in 1982. He spent two years in England as a lecturer and research student when working on his doctoral and post-doctoral theses. His habilitation was approved in 2000 and earned him the post of associate professor at the University of Vienna. His interdisciplinary study on the varieties of mystical experience in 17th c. English religious poetry was published in 2003 entitled Phänomenologie Mystischer Erfahrung in der Englischen Lyrik des 17. Jhdts. Versuch einer Interdisziplinären Hermeneutik Erlebnismystischer Texte. His methodological approach was mainly based on the studies of Carl Albrecht. In 2013 he edited (jointly with John Bak, University of Lorraine) British Literature and Spirituality: Theoretical Approaches and Transdisciplinary Readings. He is currently working on the English edition of the sequel to Albrecht’s Psychology of Mystical Consciousness, Das Mystische Erkennen, which will be published in 2019.

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