Resisting history

Religious transcendence and the invention of the unconscious

Author: Rhodri Hayward

How can historians make sense of visions, hauntings and demonic possession? Do miraculous events have any place in a world governed by cause and effect? This book examines the cumulative attempts of theologians, historians and psychologists to create a consistent and rational narrative capable of containing the inexplicable. It argues that the psychological theories we routinely use to make sense of supernatural experience were born out of struggles between popular mystics and conservative authorities. Its analysis of the Victorian disciplines of Christology, psychology and psychical research reveals how our modern concept of the subconscious was developed as a tool for policing religious inspiration. The book provides a fresh perspective for anyone interested in questioning the concepts that underlie historical writing and psychological thought today.

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