Louise N. King, PhD. student at the University of Northampton, aimed to record and formally compare the phenomenology of anomalous experiences in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE), employing a qualitative methodology that focuses on the phenomenology and meaning of experiences.
The attribution of anomalous experiences in TLE is discussed extensively in neuropsychiatric contexts; the DSM V lists such anomalous experiences as delusional or hallucinatory events, symptomatic of ictal (epilepsy related) psychosis. Discussion of case studies of anomalous experiences in epilepsy offer limited qualitative information about the phenomenology of the experience, as they are primarily concerned with differential diagnosis and appropriate medical interventions.
In this study, the investigators focused on the phenomenological elements of spirituality in TLE from the perspective of the meaning that they have for experients. The study employed Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), a qualitative methodology that focuses on the phenomenology and meaning of experiences. The participant experiences in this IPA study include descriptions of precognition, near death, and out of body experiences. The value and status of preliminary findings are at variance with the neuropsychiatric literature, which regards such experiences as problematic seizure-related events that require medication and need to be stopped. The medical model assumes that individuals will not want these exceptional experiences, and a desire to keep them is a contributory factor of epilepsy-related psychosis. However, the likeness of the spiritual experiences described by the participants in this IPA study to altered states of consciousness and exceptional experiences of individuals without epilepsy suggests that, in fact, not all spiritual experiences in individuals with epilepsy are merely undesirable symptoms of the condition.
Having TLE may, as others have claimed, mean that the temporal lobes of individuals with epilepsy are more sensitive than non-epileptic populations and that this is the source of highly valuable abilities, which are of interest to parapsychologists. Parapsychologists should find the nature of the experience of participants of this IPA study of interest, particularly because of the possible connection between the lability of the temporal lobes and psi abilities.
Presented at the “62nd Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association” on July 4, 2019, Paris, France; program chaired by Ramses D’Leon. Download the Abstracts at https://www.parapsych.org/articles/37/483/2019_pa_convention_abstracts_of.aspx
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Published on May 26, 2021