The relational mind: In between history, psychology and anthropology

A new piece in History of Psychology may interest AHP readers: “The relational mind: In between history, psychology and anthropology,” by Youval Rotman. Abstract:

The article examines the new psychological language that developed in late antiquity to formulate a personal relationship with the one God. This language used the Greek term for the soul, the psuch? (Latin anima), and defined it as the relational faculty of the human mind. The perception of the human mind as relational became instrumental to formulate the experience of conversion, that is, a mental and emotional process of self-transformation, psychological in the modern sense of the term. The article analyzes the psychological perspective of the ancient authors who developed the idea of the relational faculty to connect to God by using modern theories that perceive the human mind as relationally configured. In order to analyze ancient and modern writers together, the article develops a new methodological approach to move in between ancient and modern writings without falling into the pit of anachronism. This approach enables the author to define a common theoretical field for historical analysis and psychoanalysis, and to use the historical evidence in order to evaluate and challenge the modern psychoanalytic prism. To bridge between the two disciplines, the present article uses anthropology. Thanks to its psychological aspect, anthropology of religion validates the two-way relationship between history and psychoanalysis. Anthropological field research on the beliefs in tree spirits conducted by the author in an animistic environment has revealed a relational psychological language in the core of the animistic belief, and provides the missing link to connect history and psychoanalysis.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.

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