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A psychodynamic inquiry into the spiritually evocative potential of music

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Music has the uncanny potential to transport its listeners to normally inaccessible realms of the psyche. Grounded in an object relations perspective informed by the burgeoning neo-monistic philosophical discipline of somaesthetics, it is suggested that the synthesis of conscious (necessarily explicit), unconscious (potentially explicit), and nonconscious (necessarily implicit) elements comprises a more utilitarian concept of the psychic essence of an individual: the “foundational self.” This foundational self, or the “spiritual self,” represents the irreducible and ultimately unformulatable core of human experience that results from the dialectical fusion of true-self object relations with concomitant developmentally primitive psychosomatic self states. It is argued that certain types of so-called “sacred music” – music whose form aligns with implicit affective registries that are filtered through intrapsychic constellations of true self object relations – act as perhaps the most potent catalyst in facilitating experiences of spirituality. The phonological qualities of sacred music share the same spectrum of transitional space in which the foundational self enjoys its fullest expression. Sacred music possesses the ability to dissolve explicit representational boundaries in service of achieving symbolic interpersonal fusion with the foundational self, in so doing facilitating a blissfully ego-boundless sensation of unio mystica.
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Keywords: metatheory; music; object relations; spirituality

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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