This study explores the universe of the lived experience of the Catholic Christian sacrament of the Eucharist and its transformative dynamics, using descriptive phenomenological psychological method. The research defines transformation as a fundamental change in personality in response to a perceived encounter with a transcendental mystery; the change manifesting itself as an abiding positive attitudinal and behavioral differential in one's way of being in the world and relating to self, others, the world, and the divine. Analyzing the data emerging from the phenomenological interviews of 10 practicing Catholic lay people, the study details the ideographic structure of the experience of each participant as well as the nomothetic structure of the lived experience of the Eucharist, derived from the 10 ideographic structures. The participants experience the Eucharist as a spatiotemporal event wherein transformative choreography unfolds in four vectors, viz., entering sacred sociality, anamnestic unfolding of the self, experience of identificatory union with Christ, and covenantal commitment to serving others. The study also identifies 4 elements that sometimes hinder the perceived efficacy of the Eucharist: impeded purity of presence, incomplete sacred sociality, lack of harmony with the Holy, and inconsummation of union with Christ.
Recognizing the analytic in the eucharistic phenomenology, the research further engages the data in a phenomenological depth analysis using the heuristic lens of the object relational perspective in psychoanalysis elucidated by Melanie Klein, Wilfred Bion, James Grotstein, and Thomas Ogden. The research identifies autistic-contiguous, paranoid-schizoid, depressive, and transcendent positions within the dynamics of the eucharistic transformation. However, it finds the current theory of the positions inadequate to account for the scope of the organization of human experience and transformation as evidenced in the eucharistic phenomenology. Hence, the research proposes a fifth position, kenotic-agapeic position, to describe human transformation beyond the transcendent position, wherein a person develops the courage to die to self in order to nurture the life of an other. The study ends with a discussion of the implications of the eucharistic phenomenology for the theory and practice of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.
Keywords: eucharistic transformation, kenotic-agapeic position, primitive mental states, ritual, spirituality and religiosity, phenomenological depth analysis.