Exceptional Human Experiences
The issue of exceptional human experiences is begging to be brought out at the beginning of the chapter. This is presented in the context of various experiences that are not a usual phenomenon to many for instance Hypnotic regression and psychic visions in the human mind. The nature of exceptional human experiences is depicted to be changing its self The relevance of the exceptional human experiences has raised questions as to their actual meaning especially on belief and the supernatural phenomenon.
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There are people who dismiss them to be lies that result from the brain’s unwanted products and psychic problems that need attention from doctors.
The second thing is that the supernatural tries to disapprove of science. That specifically, material science is wrong and should incorporate the paranormal. This is because paranormal is used to justify the occurrence of exceptional human experiences.
Naturalists believe that the experiences are normal and they do not connect them to God or another supernatural world.
Out of the body experiences
This refers to the perception of the world outside one’s physical body for instance having a feeling that one has moved out of his body and is able to function properly without it. People encounter these experiences in various places, at various times, and when participating in various activities. OBEs have many things in common for instance relaxation, reduced input in senses, and interference with the image of the body. These experiences have been studied to last for short durations of time. They cannot be compared to dreams. This is so because the ability to see and hear can be said to have been clearer than they normally. There is also an incident of them seeing the paranormal.
These experiences have an impact on people who go through them by changing their attitudes and beliefs. In fact, this is a positive change because their fear of death declines substantially.OBEs are common to some extent because they can be seen in 15- 20 % of people during their life. Some people have experienced them during childhood and have developed habits to control them.
Even though OBEs have demonstrated paranormal tendencies and the capacity of being absorbed, they are not associated with mental illness. Though they can be intimidating at times, they have no relationship with psychopathology and therefore cannot be considered to be symptoms of people suffering from mental disorders.
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The process of inducing OBEs has so far undergone transformations from the days of astral projection to the modern experiments on relaxation and imagery exercises.
Drugs also play their role in inducing these experiences for instance psilocybin, DMT, and mescaline. The drugs have been known for their feelings that separate and cause floatation.
Concerning OBE s and consciousness, some people hold the view that they are independent of one another. Researchers of the 19th century think that there is a temporary separation during some of the experiences but permanent separation during death.
Theosophy holds the view of the existence of several bodies; physical, astral, and etheric such that consciousness can separate from physical but still remain connected via a silver cord. This is termed astral projection. Such theories present dualism and have problems for instance the issue of detecting the astral body if indeed it is physically in contact with the physical body has not been successful. To escape the dualism problem parapsychologists have described them as mere imaginations. Various experiments have been performed using animals, humans, and other sorts of detectors but there has never been a success in detecting the astral being.
OBE s have found an alternative explanation using psychology. Psychoanalytic theories describe them as a dramatization of the fear of death. Most psychological theories start from the point where there is disruption of sensory input and body image with the cognitive coming in to try to construct a new body image. It is the body image that has been linked to OBEs.This has been suggested by studies that utilize brain stimulation.
There is a belief that cuts across culture, religion, and ages that people who die undergo a number of consistent experiences. The term was coined by Richmond Moody after interviewing about 50 survivors who were very close to death. Near-death experiences are not caused by medication because they tend to be less complicated and can even be found in people who feel like they can die any second for instance mountaineers.
NDE has been characterized by hellish features and most people who have attempted suicide have reported positive NDEs and are unlikely to attempt suicide again. People have willingly reported NDE s in an event to spiritually help others. There is a difference between NDEers and those who have not had NDEs. The NDEers tend not to fear death unlike the others, who are more spiritual and accept others more.
There is something to learn about death and unconsciousness as a result of NDEs.This is especially in connection with the life after death hypothesis. NDEers describe clear states of consciousness but this is not possible with a flat EEG. The second thing concerns the existence of the paranormal which includes people having oversight in a distance.
Cases of the paranormal are very important in the sense that they tend to disapprove the materialist and functionalist theories. It is important to note that the cases have been doubted to be true because of the lack of records to demonstrate the exactness of the situations that made people believe that they are paranormal. Both natural and artificial attempts have been made to understand better the NDE s but there has been no success.
A good example of a natural attempt is the dying brain hypothesis.
They concern what has been described as cosmic consciousness by Richard Maurice. This is above the simple self-consciousness that is even found in animals.
Mystical experiences concern the life and order of the universe and have several characteristics. Firstly is that they cannot be described in words, they are noetic in nature, their transiency, and they are passive such that they cannot be induced into order. The mind, therefore, finds itself in obedience once a mystic begins. Conflicts arise between religion and science when authentic mystic experiences result due to the effect of some drugs.
Supernatural and paranormal explanations are not widely accepted because of a lack of evidence even though they are popular. Material science has been argued to be ignorant of spirituality and should therefore explore other realities and consciousness beyond the physical world. Many mystics tend to disagree with paranormal notions as to be off the track. Those who believe in Buddhism think that those who acknowledge, miracles and faith healing are just but victims of superstition.
A less popular view is that mystics are in agreement with science. This is in line with insights such as immortality is now and not in the future, that the universe is one, and separate self is an illusion. To demonstrate the validity of these insights then it calls for the elimination of dualistic thoughts in them. It remains therefore to the evolved human brain to determine specific features of OBEs and NDEs
The last view concerns the fact that is biological beings are not capable of seeing the truth or if indeed there is no truth to be seen, then the mystical world and experiences shall always prevail.
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The theory of dualism which was covered in class has been presented in chapter 24. This is the theory that explains two different entities, mind and body which are distinct and cannot be used to explain one another. This is specifically in the Out body human experiences. People claim to have perceived a different world out of their physical. This is a demonstration of dualism because indeed the physical world cannot be used to explain the perceived world because of the two and different entities. This claim asserts the existence of a second body outside the normal physical body. It is like a duplicate of the normal physical body. This is consistent with the common-sense view that the human being exists both in body and form as agreed by most religious views. The body which is the physical aspect resembles the soul which is the nonphysical component and it is the one perceived to be existing in the other world according to those who hold the view.
The theory of Deductive physicalism has also been applied in this chapter. Questions arising on the validity of paranormal and supernatural claims especially what they say about the nature of the self and consciousness have responses that relate to mental states as being mere brain states. One of the responses has treated Exceptional Human Experiences as inventions or lies and uninteresting by-products of the state of the brain.
This is in agreement with the theory that was covered in class asserting that minds are just states of the brain.
According to Socrates the Soul is freed from the body in eternity contemplating the external truths. This is evident with the Outside body Experiences theory which claims that consciousness can leave people’s bodies and can survive death. That during life, when people have Outside Body experiences such as traveling clairvoyance their spirits separate temporarily from their physical body. That it is during death that the spirit completely comes out of one’s physical body and the two end up in permanent separation.
Conscious realism as a theory has also been highlighted in chapter four. This is because according to Psychoanalytic theories, Outside Body Experiences are not realities but rather they are a kind of drama demonstrated by people who fear death. The theories try to explain the occurrence of Outside body experiences to be resulting from the disruption of body images or the sensory input. This agrees with the conscious reality theory which is actually a redescription of the results from science. Behaviorists as learned in class are people like Watson who held the opinion that religion is just a conditioned behavior that lacks intrinsic meaning. This has been applied with the mentioning of the paranormal claims where people claim to be seeing things from distant in Near-Death Experiences. It is a fact that most of the people who have revealed the Near-Death Experiences end up being more spiritual depict their religious nature and they are unable to provide explanations as to why they underwent such experiences. This demonstrates the nature of religious believes that people hold that lack intrinsic meaning in themselves. These claims also bring out how religion portrays human beings to be irrational and guided by emotional disturbance as mentioned by Ellis, one of the humanistic psychologists. They assert that the only way to overcome emotional problems is by not being religious. It is indeed after going through Near-Death experiences that some people end up being religious and have so many problems that are related to their emotional life. It is important to note that without the Near-death experiences being treated in a religious manner then emotional problems cannot arise. It is the religious aspect that brings in the supernatural and paranormal situation and ends up causing more harm emotionally.
The functionalism theory asserts that the properties of the psychological state are not the same as the properties of a physical state. This is well explained by the mystical experiences which have certain characteristics that are not consistent with the physical state. For instance, ineffability is a characteristic of mystical experience and of which it is the exact opposite of a physical state. Therefore the chapter can be considered to be a very good application of the theories that have been learned in the lectures.
Blackmore S,J, (1991) Near –death experiences; in or out of the body;Skeptical inquirer 16,34-45