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Mystical psychosis is a term coined by Arthur J. Deikman in the early 1970’s to characterize first-person accounts of psychotic experiences [1] that are strikingly similar to reports of mystical experiences.[2] [3] [4] [5] According to Deikman, and authors from a number of disciplines, psychotic experience need not be considered pathological, especially if consideration is given to the values and beliefs of the individual concerned.[6] [7] Deikman thought the mystical experience was brought about through a “deautomatization” or undoing of habitual psychological structures that organize, limit, select, and interpret perceptual stimuli.[8] There may be several causes of deautomatization—exposure to severe stress, substance abuse[9] [10] or withdrawal, and mood disorders.[11]

A first episode of mystical psychosis is often very frightening, confusing and distressing, particularly because it is an unfamiliar experience. For example, researchers have found that people experiencing paranormal and mystical phenomena report many of the symptoms of panic attacks.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Whitney, E. (1998). "Personal accounts: Mania as spiritual emergency" Psychiatric Services 49: 1547–1548
  2. ^ Jackson, M., & Fulford, K.W.M. (1997). "Spiritual experience and psychopathology". Philosophy,Psychiatry, & Psychology 4: 41–66.  
  3. ^ Brett, C. (2003). "Psychotic and mystical states of being: Connections and distinctions". Philosophy,Psychiatry, & Psychology 9: 321–341.  
  4. ^ Sandra Stahlman(1992)"The Relationship Between Schizophrenia & Mysticism: A Bibliographic Essay"
  5. ^ Tomás Agosin(1989)"Mysticism and Psychosis"
  6. ^ Jackson, M., & Fulford, K.W.M. (2003). "Psychosis good and bad: Values-based practice and the distinction between pathological and nonpathological forms of psychotic experience". Philosophy,Psychiatry, & Psychology 9: 387–394.  
  7. ^ Richard House(2001)"'Psychopathology', 'Psychosis' and the Kundalini: 'postmodern' perspectives on unusual subjective experience"
  8. ^ Thalbourne, M.A. & Maltby, J. (2008). "Transliminality, thin boundaries, Unusual Experiences,and temporal lobe lability". Personality and Individual Differences 44: 1617–1623.  
  9. ^ "Hallucinogens and Schizophrenia"
  10. ^ Nelson, B. & Sass, L. A. (2008). "The Phenomenology of the Psychotic Break and Huxley’s Trip: Substance Use and the Onset of Psychosis" Psychopathology 41: 346–355
  11. ^ Deikman, A J (1971). "Bimodal consciousness". Archives of General Psychiatry 25: 481–489.  
  12. ^ Thalbourne, M. A., & Fox, B. (1999). "Paranormal and mystical experience: The role of panic attacks and Kundalini". Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 93: 99–115.  

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