ANTH 222 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Scholarly Approaches Of Mysticism, Religious Ecstasy, Theta Wave

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14 Mar 2017
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Altered state of consciousness
A state of mind in which the brain begins to function substantially differently from the
normal waking state
Biologically-based
A human universal (in theory, anyone can experience it)
Examples:
Lucid dreams
Various mental disorders
Meditative states
Trance
Hypnosis
Altered states are often described on a spectrum of “light” to “deep”, depending on how much
they affect the individual’s waking abilities.
Biological Characteristics of ASC
Changes in brain-wave patterns: theta waves
Increased heart rate
Decreased blood pressure
Drop in stressor hormones: adrenaline & noradrenaline
Rise in endorphins (resembles opiates - delivers a feeling of well-being)
The Intensity of ASC
Human Brain Waves
Alpha waves are often reached through light meditation
Theta waves are associated with trance
Variable intensity of ASCs
Less intense: daydreaming. “Highway hypnosis”. Engrossment. Light hypnotic trance.
More intense: full-fledged dissociation. “Possession-trance”.
Trance: an altered state of consciousness induced by religious or sensory fervor that produces
a state of profound abstraction or absorption.
What do people experience in trance?
Dream-like states
Hallucinations (visual and auditory)
Telepathy and empathy
Alterations in time and space
Precognition and retrocognition
Senses may be heightened or dulled
Alterations in heart rate, breathing, body temperature, pain tolerance, and bleeding
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