Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2014 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Altered States of Consciousness

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_21

Altered states of consciousness (ASC) can be very profound and life-changing experiences to the religious believer. For example, conversion, testimony, and revelation can all be seen within the context of ASC. An altered state is a subjective reality in most religious experiences and can be identified across all religions and cultures (Bowen 1998). However, the psychological study of these seemingly important human experiences can be difficult. Even finding an agreed upon definition of ASC is challenging. Despite this challenge, in the scientific study of religion, ASC can be defined as experiences interpreted by the experiencer as an encounter with a reality that is other than ordinary (Geels 2003). Using this definition, mystical experiences may be considered a type of ASC. For a religious believer, having an ASC or mystical experiences may be the defining moment for their understanding of and motivation toward life. Many of the world’s religions are sustained by and even created...

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Bibliography

  1. Bowen, J. R. (1998). Religions in practice: An approach to the anthropology of religion. Needham Heights: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  2. Geels, A. (2003). Transforming moments – a psychological perspective on religious visions: Contemporary and historical cases. In J. A. Belzen & A. Geels (Eds.), Mysticism: A variety of psychological perspectives. Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  3. Randolph-Seng, B., & Nielsen, M. E. (2009). Opening the doors of perception: Priming altered states of consciousness outside of conscious awareness. Archive for the Psychology of Religion, 31, 237–260.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Business & Entrepreneurship, Department of Marketing & ManagementTexas A&M University - CommerceCommerceUSA