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Record Type: Review   ID: 777

Essays on Spiritual Psychology: Reflections on the Thought of Emanuel Swedenborg

Blackmer, Carolyn

 A Swedenborgian discusses Swedenborg's psychological contributions. Stephen Larsen edited and completed the work after Blackmer's death. In his Introduction he provides "psychological comparisons that amplify or validate Swedenborg's ideas to the present time (1986) and have offered the reader additional perspectives within contemporary psychology to understand his thought" (p. vii). He points out that Swedenborg offered a practical depth psychology that integrates spirituality with human nature, "and a humanly proportional self-image for the soul" (p. viii). He compares some of Swedenborg's ideas with transpersonal psychology. He also anticipated current physical, biological, and new psychological findings. At 55, Swedenborg underwent a spiritual transformation and turned from being a scientist of the world to being a psychologist. As Larsen says, "the reality of the soul . . . is to be discovered only by an awakened consciousness." Larsen points out that once this "paradigm shift" took place in Swedenborg's consciousness, "the subject who studied the data changed and the data itself seemed to change" (p. xv). Larsen proposes that in transpersonal psychology we have the "return of the repressed." Swedenborg, he says, offers a western form of yoga. Blackmer describes Swedenborg's Diary and Journal of Dreams, and notes that reading them provides an opportunity "to watch the gradual transformation of a man devoted to dissipating the occultism of the medieval world into a man prepared to dissipate the narrow one-world view of reality in the Western world" (p. 19). Thus, we could say that he discovered and lived the truths transpersonal psychology sets forth today. In her second essay, Blackmer presents Swedenborg as a psychologist: "My thesis is that his clear recognition of his own existential states, in addition to his conceptual framework, accounts for his remarkably advanced psychological insights. His intellectual concept of the unconscious was extended by his own experience" (p. 23). Or, one might say, his own experience extended his intellectual concept of the unconscious. In any case, this book underscores the idea that Swedenborg was one of the first depth explorers of the psyche, as opposed to other explorers, usually male and identified with the religious quest, who explored the heights.
Publisher Information:New York: Swedenborg Foundation, 1991. 62p. Chap. bibl: 55-62; 7 figs
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