Abnormal States of Mind

So it seems like the majority of the population hasn’t experienced or even hard about the phenomena of sleep paralysis/lucid dreaming (or if they have it’s usually more of a “oh yeah is that the thing where you (insert some general statement that like 45% hits the point)”. I guess having experienced far more than my far share of ‘pathological dreams’ I overestimated the significance that other people would attach to them.

It’s difficult to understand why I think these occurrences are so significant if you’ve never experienced one yourself, and if you have, you probably sort of brushed it off as a strange one time event. But me being endlessly fascinated in biopsychology and having a lot of personal experience with my topic lead me to overestimating the community that talks about abnormal dreams in the same way I do. Most of the online discussions about them take place in blogs or informal sites for anonymous posters to talk about their personal experiences. Scientific research on this topic is scarce and gets almost no recognition from the broader psychology community.

So I’ve decided to expand my topic to “abnormal states of mind” which I defined to be:

Any subjective experience marked by a disruption of normal brain processing of reality, perceptual experiences are generated by the brain and cannot be attributed to external stimuli, almost always involves an intense emotional reactions that are not experienced during normal waking brain function. (Could definitely use some cleaning up but that’s my working definition for now).

No obviously this definition now includes things like:

-Psychosis (schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, etc)

-Being under the influence of drugs (although I would argue although drugs alter your mind, a substance induced abnormal state of mind by my definition would have to be a very intense experience where the person loses touch with reality and is almost entirely consumed by their own mind

-Some forms of intense meditation or hypnosis

-Regular every night dreams do not make the cut because that’s still normal brain functioning even though it is a mind constructed reality

No ‘abnormal states of mind’ could be heaven or hell or anything in between. They take our thought emotions and perceptions and inject them with steroids and show us what we are truly capable of experiencing.

My interesting, difficult and high risk questions about abnormal states of mind:

  1. What can our personal experiences of abnormal states of mind teach us about ourselves?
  2. How might abnormal states of mind change way we understand perception?
  3. What do abnormal states of mind add to the human experience and what would we be missing out on without them?
  4. Are abnormal states of mind more positive, negative or neutral generally speaking?
  5. Could science one day harness brain mechanisms to control abnormal states of mind?
  6. What dangers or breakthroughs might result if the above question came true?

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE if anyone has had an abnormal experience that you think fits into my definition PLEASE SHARE (as long as you feel comfortable doing so).

Leave a Reply