Zeitschrift für Spiritualität und Transzendentale Psychologie 2012, 2 (1) /
Journal for Spirituality and Transcendental Psychology 2012, 2 (1)

The Diagnostic Separation of Psychosis and
Spiritual Experience II:

Distinctive Criteria for Clinical Practice[1]

E. W. Harnack





You are still here! This is unheard-of, on my word!

Vanish! We brought enlightenment as you have heard!

This devilish crew cares not for rules or books.

We are so wise, and yet in Tegel there are spooks!


Goethe, Faust I, Walpurgis Night

(translated by George Madison Priest)



While in the first part of this article (JSTP, Issue 3, 2011) the foundations were laid for stating without Peitio principii what is psychosis (and what is not), this article aims to explain on this basis how spiritual experiences can be identified as non-pathological, exceptional experiences. The emphasis here is on the formulation of more specific criteria, appropriate for the practice of the psychological counsellor, physician, or psychotherapist, to distinguish spiritual from pathological elements of an experience. The appendix of this article contains a here for the first time published interview, the DIAPS (Diagnostic Interview for the Assignment of Pathologic and Spiritual experiences), which will provide the practitioner with such an instrument.

Keywords: Psychosis, psychopathology and spiritual experience, diagnostics, interview, DIAPS


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About the author:

The author is editor of JSTP and works as psychologist in Berlin/Germany. Contact: edgar.harnack[at]gmail.com

If you want to read further, please purchase our yearbook containing all articles of 2012. This article will probably be available online in the summer of 2015 again.

Yearbook 2012