Divine Madness: On the Aetiology of Romantic Obsession
Abstract: The paper opens with a brief overview of ‘limerence’ or obsessive love disorder (OLD) from the perspectives of psychology, neurology, anthropology, and sociology, but concludes that certain unique characteristics of the condition suggest that it is better understood as a form of ‘divine madness’, resulting from the failure of the Platonic ascent of love to follow its natural trajectory. The paper focuses on Plotinus’s model of the erotic ascent from the one to the ONE, drawing parallels with the Indian bhakti tradition and other models derived from transpersonal psychology. The final section explores the distinction between pagan and Christian Platonism and the entailments of the latter for secular perspectives on love.
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