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Michael Millerman - 2004
In an essay entitled
The Mystical Self: Lost and Found,
Ralph Hood explores thequestion of the unity of selfhood, drawing heavily on William James’
Varieties of  Religious Experience.
Hood argues that, empirically, the unity of selfhood is assured andnon-problematic. However, the phenomenon of mysticism reveals a transcendent I,whose unity is not that of empirically studied selfhood, but rather a unity with Reality, or God. The concern, then, is to suggest that “William James’ psychology and philosophyhas contemporary relevance in linking the empirical literature on self with the conceptualliterature on self-loss,” that is, the mystic experience. First let us look at the twoconceptions of self.
Two Conceptions of Self 
A conceptual confusion that arises in empirical studies of the self is the failure todistinguish between the being of the self and its attributes (Hood, 2002). “I think, perceive, feel, but I
not those various acts in time,” writes philosopher William Earle,“rather I am that ego which now thinks, now perceives, now remembers or dreams”(1981). The two conceptions that emerge, then, are the unity of self found in reflection,usually identified as
, and influenced by social construction insofar as we identify it byvarious attributes, and the unity of the being devoid of attributes, the I, which is lesslikely a product of social influence (Hood, 2002); the
self and the
self.The Spiritual RevolutionIt is well established that the experience of unity is a defining feature of the
self that emerges upon the loss of the reflexive, psychological self (Stace, 1960;Hood, 1989). In his essay, Hood suggests that a spiritual revolution is now in progress; arevolution made possible by a return to serious discussion of the soul (Hood, 2002.)Although such a concept may worry some psychologists who, perhaps like the behaviourists, wish to abstract themselves from the whole of what it means to be humanand keep their discipline “empirical,” it seems that William James was correct in notingthat, “no conventional restrictions can keep metaphysical or even epistemologicalinquiries out of the psychology books” (Hood, 2002), for indeed, psychological and philosophical conceptions of self rapidly give way to mystical ones when they are carriedto their conclusion. To study such a concept, however, requires the proper methodological tools; for psychology, regardless of its scope, must still proceed as ascience.
The Method
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