How to Distinguish Between a Religious Experience and Psychosis

There are possibly many ways in which we can define a religious experience. We need to ask ourselves: what features should such an experience exemplify? There is also a difficulty in trying to ascertain whether a certain experience is pathological in nature. For reasons which will become clear, I will be using the term religious…View Post

Schizophrenic or Shamanic? It Depends on the Cultural Context

An individual can display certain symptoms, but whether they are an indication of schizophrenia or shamanic abilities depends largely on the cultural context. By cultural context I mean the collective beliefs, values, expectations and responses of the community which shape the mentality and behaviour of the individuals within that community. Mental illness is heavily influenced…View Post

An Explanation for Our Aesthetic Appreciation of Geometry

Humans have been attracted to geometric shapes and patterns for thousands of years. Geometry has not only been used for the description of physical reality – from the time of Euclid’s Elements to string theory today – it has also been imbued with a sense of the mystical and the beautiful. Sacred geometry, for example,…View Post

The Implications of Fully Immersive Virtual Reality

The whole concept of virtual reality – especially full immersion in a virtual, artificial world – has been a favourite topic of many science fiction writers. The idea has also featured in many speculative and philosophical questions, such as: What is reality? How do we distinguish reality from illusion? And so on. Loosely defined, virtual…View Post

Scientific Explanations of the Near-Death Experience

There has been a lot of mystery surrounding what is known as near-death experiences or NDEs. The term was coined in psychiatrist Raymond Moody’s popular book Life After Life (1975), in which he detailed people’s testimonials of their NDEs. Moody interviewed 150 people who experienced an NDE as a result of being clinically dead or nearly…View Post