Gérard Bonnet : mysticism and conversion in adolescence

The author approaches mystical experience using classical narratives such as Plato’s myth of the cave and Moses’ conversion to shed light on accounts that come to us from current psychoanalytical practice. He shows that mystical experience is an intense moment, wherein the subject experiences in a flash the sensation of attaining the ideal enjoyment that was madly imagined in childhood and plunges in with pleasure, without knowing exactly what is going on. This is also the moment when the flaws and the shadows of early experiences come back to him in a painful way, and when he is in danger of giving in body and soul, since these are so dissociable from the enjoyment in question, which lends itself to symptoms, to addictions, and to passages to the act which are under their rule. It is finally and above all the instant where he is obliged to assume responsibility for the conflicts that result, if he wishes to balance these exceptional experiences, whose hopes he bears in the deepest part of himself, and the reality in which he must invest himself today.

Adolescence, 2008, T. 26, n°1, pp. 41-63.