Observations placeholder

James, William - The Varieties of Religious Experience - The effects of high emotion



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

The Varieties of Religious Experience – William James

There are only two ways in which it is possible to get rid of anger, worry, fear, despair or other undesirable affections.  One is that the opposite affection should over-poweringly break over us, and the other is by getting so exhausted with the struggle that we have to stop – so we drop down, give up and don’t care any longer.  Our emotional brain-centres strike work, and we lapse into temporary apathy.  Now there is documentary proof that this state of temporary exhaustion not infrequently forms part of the conversion crisis.  So long as the egoistic worry of the sick soul guards the door, the expansive confidence of the soul of faith gains no presence.  But let the former faint away, even but for a moment and the latter can profit by opportunity, and having once acquired possession, may retain it.  Carlyle’s Teufelsdrockh passes from the everlasting No to the everlasting Yes through a ‘Centre of Indifference’.

The source of the experience

James, William

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Extreme emotion


Squash the big I am