Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2013


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Clinical Psychology


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Will Adams

Committee Member

Leswin Laubscher

Committee Member

Marie Baird


Hermeneutics, Jacques Lacan, Meister Eckhart, Mysticism, Psychoanalysis, Subjectivity


This interdisciplinary, theoretical dissertation puts Meister Eckhart and psychoanalysis (in particular, the work of Jacques Lacan) in dialogue in order to examine the question of the self. It extends the success of recent Buddhist-psychoanalytic dialogues on the self into the neglected area of Christian mysticism. The author reviews the extant literature on psychoanalysis and mysticism, summarizes Freud and Lacan's psychoanalytic theories of subjectivity, and examines the existing literature on Meister Eckhart and the self. Then, the author undertakes a commentary of an especially significant passage in one of Eckhart's sermons using an interpretive method which brings together "radical hermeneutics," a form of hermeneutics developed by the American philosopher of religion John Caputo (1987, 2000) with Lectio Divina and centering prayer, two Christian contemplative practices. Based on the commentary, the author presents a fresh understanding of Eckhart's view of the self which emphasizes the unity between the soul and God in the process of God's birth in the soul (Gottesgeburt). Then, some of the key themes of Eckhart's sermons are put in dialogue with key Lacanian concepts - e.g., properties (eigenschaften) with symptoms, detachment (abegescheidenheit) with castration, and living without why (ohne Warum) with jouissance - in order to explore the significance of Eckhart's view of the self for psychoanalytic theories of subjectivity. Additionally, the discussion includes clinical vignettes in order to suggest implications for the practice of psychotherapy. The dissertation concludes that psychoanalysis and mysticism are guided by a similar logic and structure, as they are both oriented around processes of change.