Jennifer Lyke | Psi Experiences & Entity Encounters in Self-Transcendent Experiences

This presentation reports on an ongoing project analyzing a growing database of spontaneously reported self-transcendent experiences. This analysis used experiences (N = 236) that could be classified as mystical by James’ (1902) definition (e.g., transiency, ineffability, passivity, noetic quality), or involved a dramatic change in the person’s sense of self, time, or space (e.g., Stace, 1960; Yaden et al., 2017). They were retrieved from several websites that solicit and post visitors’ descriptions of their transcendent experiences.

Experience descriptions were content analyzed using a 65-item rating scale designed to capture salient aspects, including psi experiences and encounters with a variety of entities (e.g., “Did the person encounter someone they knew who was dead?”). Descriptions were rated on each of the 65 items using a 5-point Likert scale (“definitely absent” to “definitely present”) indicating whether the item appeared to be an element of the experience. Each description was rated at least twice, and inter-rater reliability for each pair of ratings was acceptable.

The experiences occurred during dreams, hypnogogic/hypnopompic states, hypnosis, out of body experiences, near death experiences, physical crises, prayer/meditation, psychotic episodes, and ordinary waking states. Demographic information on experiencers is limited, but the cases came from 16 countries, with 38.7% male and 61.3% female experiencers. The average age at the time of the experience was 28.2 years (SD = 15.08). Thirty percent of the experiences included the presence of psi experiences and/or entity encounters. Approximately 14% of self-transcendent experiencers reported telepathy, clairvoyance, or precognition with no reported incidents of psychokinesis; 19.1% of experiencers described encountering entities, including apparitions, angels, other spiritual beings, dead relatives, and miscellaneous beings; and 3% experienced both psi phenomena and entity encounters. A detailed breakdown of frequencies will be presented along with qualitative data.

Results suggest psi experiences and entity encounters are elements of a substantial minority of self-transcendent experiences. These results are consistent with Thalbourne’s (2006) filter theory, which suggests thin boundaries may act as a common denominator among a variety of altered states. They also conform to Marshall’s (2011) suggestion that psi phenomena and mystical states need to be explained together, not separately. Limitations and suggestions for further research will be discussed.

BIO: Jennifer Lyke, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychology at Stockton University. She is also a licensed psychologist and maintains a private practice. Shannon Madgey, Angel Lopez, and Roseanne Johnson are/were psychology majors at Stockton.

Recorded at the Society for Scientific Exploration Conference in Broomfield, Colorado 2019.

Special thanks to our Patreon Explorers for providing the support we need to keep our video content freely available online: Dr. CMC Toporow, Kathleen Erickson, Mark Crewson, Mark Urban-Lurain, Roger Nelson, Gene Thomas, and Sandy Wiener.

Want to support our commitment to open access scientific research? Become a patron yourself:

Or take your support of our 501(c)(3) nonprofit even further by becoming an SSE member:

The SSE provides a forum for original research into cutting edge and unconventional areas. Views and opinions belong only to the speakers, and are not necessarily endorsed by the SSE.

Published on February 3, 2020