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The Dark Night of the Soul

A. Barratt Brown
The Journal of Religion
Vol. 3, No. 5 (Sep., 1923), pp. 476-488
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1195685
Page Count: 13
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The Dark Night of the Soul
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Abstract

A prominent feature in the experience of the great mystics is a period of spiritual dryness and depression which they describe under such figures as "the dark night of the soul," "the mystic death," or "the great dereliction." The purpose of this paper is (1) to illustrate this experience from some of the records in which it has been described by those who have passed through it; (2) to attempt a psychological explanation of its occurrence; and (3) to give some answer to the question, Is the experience merely a psycho-physical oscillation of mood or is it (as the mystics themselves claim) a significant if not an indispensable stage in the development of the highest spiritual experience and activity?

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