Very interesting article: The Neural Substrates of Religious Experience. By Jeffrey L. Saver, M.D. and John Rabin, M.D.

That article is strongly commended by me. Click this link: http://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/data/Journals/NP/3847/498.pdf .

Let me quote from the abstract:

Religious experience is brain-based, like all human experience. Clues to the neural substrates of religious-numinous experience may be gleaned from temporolimbic epilepsy, near-death experiences, and hallucinogen ingestion. These brain disorders and conditions may produce depersonalization, derealization, ecstasy, a sense of timelessnes and spacelessness, and other experiences that foster religious-numinous interpretation. Religious delusions are an important subtype of delusional experience in schizophrenia, and mood-congruent religious delusions are a feature of mania and depression. The authors suggest a limbic marker hypothesis for religious-mystical experience. The temporolimbic system tags certain encounters with external or internal stimuli as depersonalized, derealized, crucially important, harmonious, and/or joyous, prompting comprehension of these experiences within a religious framework.

(Published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 1997; 9:498-510)

Also two very interesting tables can be found in the article.

TABLE #1 = Historical-religious figures suggested in the medical literature to have had epilepsy. (For example Joseph Smith, Saint Paul, Prophet Muhammad, and Emanuel Swedenborg – just to mention a few of them.)

TABLE #2:= Features tending to distinguish mystical and psychotic states. (Frequent themes of illness and/or deviance are hallucinations, often visual ones, religiously imbued word choices, experiences of being a self-negating vessel for higher power(s), feelings of personal grandiosity and omnipotence, experiences of ecstatic, joyful, Indifferent or terrifed moments, reduced social function, withdrawal behavior, disordered speech output like glossolalia – i.e. speaking in tongues – containing neologisms and bizarre associations (predominantly, at least partly, in a known language), often some kind of thought blocking and so on.)

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2 Comments

Filed under Hallucinations, Neuroscience, Religion

2 responses to “Very interesting article: The Neural Substrates of Religious Experience. By Jeffrey L. Saver, M.D. and John Rabin, M.D.

  1. The problem with this new theory is that non-religious people, like myself, have also had near-death experiences.

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