A case study of primary process language and body boundary imagery in discourses of religious-mystical and psychotic experiences

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Abstract

Religious-mystical and psychotic altered states of consciousness (ASC) are assumed to share common phenomenological and psycho biological features, including regressive cognition and changes in body boundary awareness. This study aimed to assess the frequency and strength of associations between primordial thought language and body boundary imagery in the discourses of mystical and psychotic-mystical ASC. The mystical discourse examined here is Saint Teresa of Avila’s (1567) mystical writing "The Way of Perfection”, and the psychotic discourse is Daniel Paul Schreber’s (1903)autobiographical writing “Memoirs of My Nervous Illness”. The mystical text differs from the psychotic text in the frequency of primordial thought language and penetration imagery. Positive associations were also found between primordial thought language and penetration imagery, and barrier and penetration imagery, whereas the psychotic text yielded a positive association between barrier and penetration imagery only.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-61
Number of pages26
JournalEmpirical Text and Culture Research
Volume5
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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