Autobiographical accounts of acute mystical experience and schizophrenia are compared in order to examine the similarities between the two states. The appearance of a powerful sense of noesis, heightening of perception, feelings of communion with the 'divine', and exultation may be common to both. The disruption of thought seen in the acute psychoses is not a component of the accounts of mystical experience reviewed by the author, and auditory hallucinations are less common than visual hallucinations in the mystical state. The ease with which elements of the acute mystical experience can be induced in possession cults or in an experimental situation suggests that the capacity for such an altered state experience may be latently present in many people. It is postulated that there is a limited repertoire of response within the nervous system for altered state experiences such as acute psychosis and mystical experience, even though the precipitants and etiology may be quite different.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health