- ecstatic aura
- The term ecstatic aura comes from the Greek words ekstasis (departure, dismissal, mental derangement, poignancy, 'being outside oneself'), and aura (breeze, smell). It is used to denote a type of * aura (i.e. a 'warning symptom') preceding a paroxysmal neurological disorder such as migraine or epilepsy during which * protracted time or other * time distortions may occur, and the affected individual may experience a feeling of blissful unity with God or with the All. The Russian author Fjodor Michajlovitsj Dostoevsky (1821-1881), who experienced ecstatic aurae preceding his frequent epileptic seizures, wrote that "during a few moments I feel such happiness that it is impossible to realize at other times, and other people cannot imagine it. I feel a complete harmony within myself and in the world, and this feeling is so strong and so sweet that for a few seconds of this enjoyment one would readily exchange ten years of one's life - perhaps even one's whole life." Elsewhere Dostoevsky says that, "Probably it was of such an instant that the epileptic Mahomet was speaking when he said that he had visited all the dwelling places of Allah within a shorter time than it took for his pitcher full of water to empty itself." Etiolog-ically and pathophysiologically, ecstatic aurae are associated primarily with temporal lobe epilepsy. It has been claimed by the American-Canadian neuropsychologist Michael A. Persinger (b. 1945) that ecstatic aurae can be evoked experimentally with the aid of a *Koren helmet, i.e. a device which applies complex, computer-generated magnetic pulses to the temporo-parietal region. It has also been suggested that the results of Persinger's group might indicate that ecstatic and religious experiences in general may have a neural basis, associated with aberrant neurophys-iological activity in the temporal and/or parietal lobes. Religious experiences occurring in the context of an ecstatic aura are referred to as *ictal religious experiences. The notion ofecstatic aura is closely related to the notion of *psychic aura.ReferencesAlajouanine, T. (1963). Dostoiewski's epilepsy. Brain, 86, 209-218.Persinger, M.A. (1987). Neuropsychologial bases of God beliefs. New York, NY: Praeger.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.
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