Mauro Properzi


Religious experience often involves what is perceived to be divine communication to single individuals or to humanity at large. Yet, since revelatory experiences involve both a supernatural source of truth and a human receptor who interprets and filters the message, psychology may appropriately play a role in the study and analysis of these phenomena. In this essay I provide some general suggestions on how psychology may contribute to the study of revelatory religious experiences, namely by exploring the descriptive, the pragmatic, and the functional-psychoanalytic dimensions of revelation. Indeed, by moving away from reductivist explanations and by framing analyses in the transcendent theological schemata of religious adepts psychology may assist the believer in sifting through the authentic and the inauthentic or between the human and the divine. In this context, this article focuses more on those core philosophical issues and questions that ground dialogue between psychology and religion than it does on specific examples and illustrations. It is a starting point for conversation and a broad optimistic framing of a historically difficult relationship, which still requires much sorting out.