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Knot of the Soul: Madness, Psychoanalysis, Islam

Original price $67.00 - Original price $67.00
Original price
$67.00 - $67.00
Current price $67.00

Stefania Pandolfo

Paperback, 384 pages



Through a dual engagement with the unconscious in psychoanalysis and Islamic theological-medical reasoning, Stefania Pandolfo’s unsettling and innovative book reflects on the maladies of the soul at a time of tremendous global upheaval. Drawing on in-depth historical research and testimonies of contemporary patients and therapists in Morocco, Knot of the Soul offers both an ethnographic journey through madness and contemporary formations of despair and a philosophical and theological exploration of the vicissitudes of the soul.


Knot of the Soul moves from the experience of psychosis in psychiatric hospitals, to the visionary torments of the soul in poor urban neighborhoods, to the melancholy and religious imaginary of undocumented migration, culminating in the liturgical stage of the Qur’anic cure. Demonstrating how contemporary Islamic cures for madness address some of the core preoccupations of the psychoanalytic approach, she reveals how a religious and ethical relation to the “ordeal” of madness might actually allow for spiritual transformation.


This sophisticated and evocative work illuminates new dimensions of psychoanalysis and the ethical imagination while also sensitively examining the collective psychic strife that so many communities endure today.



Part I. Psychiatric Fragments in the Aftermath of Culture

1. Testimony in Counterpoint

2. The Hospital

3. The Jinn and the Pictogram: “The Story of My Life”

4. The Knot of the Soul (or the Cervantes Stage)

Interlude. Islam and the Ethics of Psychoanalysis


Part II. The Passage: Imagination, Alienation

5. Taʿbīr: Figuration and the Torment of Life

6. The Burning


Part III. The Jurisprudence of the Soul

7. Overture: A Topography of the Soul in the Vertigo of History

8. Faqīh al-nafs: The Jurist of the Soul

9. Shariʿa Healing: “Knowledge of the Path to the Hereafter”

10. Prophetic Medicine and the Ruqya

11. The Jouissance of the Jinn

12. The Psychiatrist and the Imam

13. Black Bile and the Intractable Jinn: Threshold of the Inorganic

14. The Argument of Shirk (Idolatry)

15. Extimacy: The Battlefield of the Nafs

16. The Writing of the Soul: Soul Choking, Imagination, and Pain

17. Concluding Movement: The Passion of Zulikha, a Dramaturgy of the Soul