Mystical Moments and Unitive Thinking, Dan Merkur, (Albany: SUNY, 1999), ISBN 0791404063-x, 188 pp.

"This is the mature work of an anthropologist of mysticism who knows mysticism from the inside as well. He courageously carves out of reductionist Freudianism a non-reductionistic understanding of mystical experiences. At the same time, he deepens our understanding of the variety of religious experiences, refusing to blend them all into a single 'oceanic experience.' His grasp of a wide variety of different traditions and practices is breathtaking. There are many books on mysticism, but none that does what this book does." Walter Wink, Auburn Theological Seminary

Merkur proposes an alternative to the traditional psychoanalytic explanation of mystical experiences as regression to the solipsism of earliest infancy. He does this by viewing unitive thinking as a line of cognitive development, and mystical moments as creative inspirations on unitive topics. Merkur argues that experiences of mystical union are manifestations of a broader category of psychological processes that manifest in scientific and moral thought, as well as in mysticism. Building on the psychoanalytic object-relations theory that the self is always in relationship with an object, Merkur argues that the solipsism of some varieties of mystical union always implies unconscious ideas of a love object who is transcendent.

Dan Merkur is Research Reader in the Centre for the Study of Religion in the University of Toronto, Canaca. He is author of a number of other books, including Gnosis: An Esoteric Tradition of Mystical Visions.