STATES OF UNITIVE CONSCIOUSNESS
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Transcendent Experiences, Ego-Transcendence,
Intense Religious Experience, Peak
Experiences, Mystical Experiences, Cosmic
Wuthnow, Robert (1978). Peak Experiences: Some
Empirical Tests. Journal of Humanistic
Psychology, 18 (3), 59-75.
Noble, Kathleen D. (1987). ``Psychological Health
and the Experience of Transcendence.'' The
Counseling Psychologist, 15 (4), 601-614.
Lukoff, David & Francis G. Lu (1988).
``Transpersonal psychology research review: Topic:
Mystical experiences.'' Journal of Transpersonal
Psychology, 20 (2), 161-184.
Furthermore, Greeley found no evidence to support the
orthodox belief that frequent mystic experiences or psychic
experiences stem from deprivation or psychopathology. His
''mystics'' were generally better educated, more successful
economically, and less racist, and they were rated
substantially happier on measures of psychological well-being.
(Charles T. Tart, Psi: Scientific Studies of the
Psychic Realm, p. 19.)
- Say their lives are more meaningful, think about
meaning and purpose
- Know what purpose of life is
- Meditate more
- Score higher on self-rated personal talents and
- Less likely to value material possessions, high
pay, job security, fame, and having lots of
- Greater value on work for social change, solving
social problems, helping needy
- Reflective, inner-directed, self-aware, self-confident
Short-Term Effects (usually people who did not previously
know of these experiences)
- Experience more productive of psychological health
- Less authoritarian and dogmatic
- More assertive, imaginative, self-sufficient,
- High ego strength, relationships, symbolization,
values, integration, allocentrism, psychological
maturity, self-acceptance, self-worth, autonomy,
authenticity, need for solitude, increased love
- Experience temporarily disorienting, alarming,
- Likely changes in self and the world, space and
time, emotional attitudes, cognitive styles,
personalities, doubt sanity and reluctance to
communicate, feel ordinary language is inadequate
- Some individuals report psychic capacities and
visionary experience destabilizing relationships
with family and friends
- Withdrawal, isolation, confusion, insecurity,
self-doubt, depression, anxiety, panic,
restlessness, grandiose religious delusions
Links to Maslow's Needs, Mental Health, and Peak Experiences
When introducing entheogens to people, I find it's helpful to
link them to other ideas people are familiar with. Here are
three useful quotations.
1) Maslow -
Beyond Self Actualization is Self Transcendence
``I should say that I consider Humanistic, Third Force Psychology
to be transitional, a preparation for a still `higher' Fourth
Psychology, transhuman, centered in the cosmos rather than in
human needs and interest, going beyond humanness, identity, selfactualization
and the like.''
Abraham Maslow (1968). Toward a Psychology of Being, Second
edition, -- pages iii-iv.
2) States of consciousness and mystical experiences
The ego has problems:
the ego is a problem.
``Within the Western model we recognize and define psychosis as a
suboptimal state of consciousness that views reality in a
distorted way and does not recognize that distortion. It is
therefore important to note that from the mystical perspective
our usual state fits all the criteria of psychosis, being
suboptimal, having a distorted view of reality, yet not
recognizing that distortion. Indeed from the ultimate mystical
perspective, psychosis can be defined as being trapped in, or
attached to, any one state of consciousness, each of which by
itself is necessarily limited and only relatively real.'' -- page
Roger Walsh (1980). The consciousness disciplines and the
behavioral sciences: Questions of comparison and assessment.
American Journal of Psychiatry, 137(6), 663-673.
3) Therapeutic effects of peak experiences
``It is assumed that if, as is often said, one traumatic event
can shape a life, one therapeutic event can reshape it.
Psychedelic therapy has an analogue in Abraham Maslow's idea of
the peak experience. The drug taker feels somehow allied to or
merged with a higher power; he becomes convinced the self is part
of a much larger pattern, and the sense of cleansing, release,
and joy makes old woes seem trivial.'' -- page 132
Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar (1983). ``Psychedelic
Drugs in Psychiatry'' in Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered, New
York: Basic Books.