Hildegard of Bingen

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A note for Lesson no. 6, "Brains Make More Than One Kind of Mind," in Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context from page 100‌ is:

Hildegard of Bingen, a twelfth-century scholar and nun, experienced visions of angels and demons and heard disembodied voices that were believed to come from God.

The appendix adds:

Hildegarde of Bingen believed that her visions, which she called “the Shade of the Living Light,” were instructions from God.

For more on the life of Hildegard of Bingen, see these references:[1][2]

For an extraordinary example of the blurred boundary between mysticism and mental illness, see Anne Fadiman’s wonderfully written and compelling book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.[3]

Other interesting discussions of mystical experiences and hallucinations can be found in these books.[4][5]


  1. Schipperges, Heinrich. 1997. Hildegard of Bingen: Healing and the Nature of the Cosmos. Princeton, New Jersey: Markus Wiener Publishers.
  2. Foxhall, Katherine. 2014. “Making Modern Migraine Medieval: Men of Science, Hildegard of Bingen and the Life of a Retrospective Diagnosis.” Medical History 58 (3): 354–374.
  3. Fadiman, Anne. 1997. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  4. Ehrenreich, Barbara. 2014. Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything. New York: Grand Central Publishing.
  5. Sacks, Oliver. 2013. Hallucinations. New York: Vintage Books.