As a means of humanizing mental health practice the term spirituality is being used to denote a more organic and holistic understanding of the human person. The goal of the present paper is to understand the phenomenon of spirituality on its own terms, that is, as it is actually experienced in this historic moment within the field of mental health. Social science researchers have undertaken studies to determine the frequency of one aspect of spirituality – namely mystical experience. Researchers have studied whether people can knowledgably identify, through structured questionnaires that describe acknowledged psychological dynamics associated with mystical experience, if they have ever had one. Additionally, psychologists and psychiatrists have explored clinical criteria by which the mystical and psychotic experience can be differentiated. These criteria assist with facilitating the growth potential of the mystical experience. Finally, neuro-psychiatric researchers are exploring the effects of mysticism by researching the spiritual experience as it affects brain chemistry. Neuropsychiatry has joined with spirituality in the articulation of mysticism. This dialogue is leading to an emerging consensus with respect to the efficacy of the mystical experience in people’s lives and a renewed interest in how these mystical states might be achieved.
|Keywords:||Spirituality, Mental Health, Mysticism, Psychosis, Psychology, Neuro-psychiatry, Phenomenology, Holism|
Student, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
University of South Africa, South Africa
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