What is it about?

The name “El Camino de Santiago” (in English, the ‘Way of St. James’) usually refers to the version of the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, which is almost 800 km long and takes about 4–5 weeks of walking. It is arguably one of the most popular pilgrimage routes in the world. In 2019, 347.578 pilgrims reached the city, among them also 20.652 Americans. We identified seven basic types of EHEs - specific combinations of out-of-the-ordinary experiences during the pilgrimage and their transformative aftereffects (TAs).

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Why is it important?

The EHE perspective has proven fit for the study of psychological aspects of pilgrimage or similar phenomena in contemporary societies. The entire set of identified EHEs can be seen as an expression of a coherent worldview consistent with what Abraham Maslow called “Being-values”. Therefore, the experience of the Camino appears to boost self-actualization as understood in terms of humanistic psychology.


Since self-actualization is an important component or at least a predictor of psychological well-being, our findings have important implications for contemporary positive psychology. A pilgrimage such as the Camino might serve individuals as an important tool for stimulating their psychological well-being through self-actualization.

Snežana Brumec
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, University of Maribor, Slovenia

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This page is a summary of: Exceptional human experiences among pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago: A typology of experiences and transformative aftereffects., Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, March 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/rel0000456.
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