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Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

versão On-line ISSN 2412-4265
versão impressa ISSN 1017-0499

Studia Hist. Ecc. vol.35 no.2 Pretoria Out. 2009


The influence of conflicting medieval church and social discourses on individual consciousness: Dissociation in the visions of Hadewijch of Brabant



Christa Krüger

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pretoria, Weskoppies Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa




This article examines the influence of the conflicting discourses in the medieval church and its social context on the subconscious experiences of Hadewijch of Brabant, a 13th century Flemish visionary, mystical author, vernacular theologian and Beguine leader. Her 14 visions of becoming one with God are analysed for evidence of dissociative states. Her dissociative experiences are interpreted in the light of a contextual model of dissociation, according to which dissociation is an information-processing tool that fosters a sense of self-insociety in the face of conflicting discourses. Hadewijch's visions and dissociation, which she used to teach her fellow Beguines, reveal her growth towards an integrated God-consciousness and her inner psychological integration of consciousness and the unconscious. The contextual model of dissociation provides a useful conceptual framework and herme-neutical tool for evaluating the consciousness of a person in a remote historical-cultural epoch.



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* Correspondence to: Christa Krüger, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pretoria, Weskoppies Hospital, Private Bag X113, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa. E-mail:

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