Date of Award

5-17-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Religion

First Advisor

Daniel Cozort

Second Advisor

Teresa Barber

Language

English

Abstract

Mystical experience has had a long history in connection to mental illness, particularly among individuals with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). This project will explore the nature of mystical experience and its incarnations among neuro-typical spiritually active individuals and individuals with temporal lobe epilepsy. Among spiritual practitioners, there are significant beneficial effects including increased relaxation, decreased stress, decreased propensity for certain mental and physical disorders, decreased propensity for anger, increased empathy, and overall increased sense of well-being. However, among individuals with TLE, there are often negative effects associated with their mystical experiences such as uncontrolled anger, uncontrolled anxiety, depression, and higher risk of certain mental and physical disorders. With this in mind, this project proposes that including spiritual practice into the routines of individuals suffering with TLE would help strengthen and train affected areas of the brain thus helping to alleviate the negative effects of otherwise unprepared for, spontaneous mystical experiences.

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