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Between Exaltation and InfamyFemale Mystics in the Golden Age of Spain$
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Stephen Haliczer

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195148633

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195148630.001.0001

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Adulthood

Adulthood

Chapter:
(p.181) 9 Adulthood
Source:
Between Exaltation and Infamy
Author(s):

Stephen Haliczer (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195148630.003.0010

Despite the restraints placed on women in the Counter‐Reformation era, many women mystics developed strategies to achieve recognition as leaders. These included exercising harsh moral authority, using their visions to gain power and instill fear, and becoming adept at performing the sufferings of Christ and the perils of demonic possession. Once leadership was attained, the women sought to gain a positive reputation with the aristocracy through assuming a life of severe austerity and writing autobiographies and devotional works. Even with their success, however, many women suffered from intense self‐loathing, possibly associated with their repression of sexuality, and developed serious illnesses. The mystical life was understood to be one that detached itself from the world and helped ensure a good death.

Keywords:   austerity, illnesses, leadership, moral authority, performing, repression of sexuality, self‐loathing, success, visions, writing

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