Consensual validation of unusual experiences: The role of others in the spiritual/psychotic divide

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    Abstract

    Christoph Haizmann was a 17th century Bavarian painter who kept a written and visual record of the demonical apparitions he experienced, from which he was eventually exorcised. Accounts contemporary to Haizmann did not perceive him as mad or sick, more that his experiences were supernatural. However, there have been modernist reconstructions of his experiences based upon their hallucinatory nature, repositioning them from the supernatural to madness. Through an examination of Haizmann’s beliefs, this article explores the permeable boundary between madness and religiosity, arguing that whilst malign, negative and unsought experiences can be constructed as psychosis, it is consensual validation by others that makes such experiences fundamentally religious in nature. The article concludes by arguing that consensual validation of primarily negative experiences may be the cornerstone of recovery, as exemplified in religious contexts and the voice dialogue philosophy, an approach underpinning the Hearing Voices Network.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPsychosis
    Publication statusIn preparation - 30 Sep 2018

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