mysticism and hallucinations
   The term mysticism comes from the Greek noun mustèrion, which means secret. It refers to a wide range of practices directed at grasping or attaining the ultimate reality of things, and/or at experiencing a direct form of communication or unity with 'the highest'. Mysticism is based on the premise that it is possible to establish a direct relationship with God or the Deity through introspection, meditation, and self-purification rather than through prayer. It is not associated exclusively with any particular religion. The term apophatic mysticism refers to a strand of mysticism characterized by the emptying of the subject's awareness of all stimuli. The term kataphatic (or imagistic) mysticism refers to the opposite approach, i.e., the filling of the subject's awareness with imagis-tic percepts. These imagistic percepts can occur in any of the sensory modalities. Throughout human history, kataphatic mystics have been aided by * entheogens to attain their desired spiritual experiences. The ensuing mental state is often referred to as * ecstasy. The group headed by the American-Canadian neuropsychologist Michael A. Persinger (b. 1945) claims that mystical experiences, including * sensed presence and hallucinatory experiences, can also be evoked experimentally with the aid of a *Koren helmet. On the basis of experiments such as these it has been suggested that religious and mystic experiences have an exclusively neural basis, associated with aberrant neurophysiological activity in the temporo-parietal lobes.
   References
   Forman, R.K.C. (1998). What does mysticism have to teach us about consciousness? Journal of Consciousness Studies, 5, 185-201.
   Melton, J.G., ed. (1996). Encyclopedia of occultism and parapsychology. Volume 2. Fourth edition. Detroit, MI: Gale.
   Persinger, M.A. (1987). Neuropsychological bases of God beliefs. New York, NY: Praeger.

Dictionary of Hallucinations. . 2010.

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