Self-Transcendence Correlates with Brain Function Impairment

Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics 4 (3):33-42 (2017)
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A broad pattern of correlations between mechanisms of brain function impairment and self-transcendence is shown. The pattern includes such mechanisms as cerebral hypoxia, physiological stress, transcranial magnetic stimulation, trance-induced physiological effects, the action of psychoactive substances and even physical trauma to the brain. In all these cases, subjects report self-transcending experiences o en described as ‘mystical’ and ‘awareness-expanding,’ as well as self-transcending skills o en described as ‘savant.’ The idea that these correlations could be rather trivially accounted for on the basis of disruptions to inhibitory neural processes is reviewed and shown to be implausible. Instead, this paper suggests that an as-of-yet unrecognized causal principle underlying the entire pattern might be at work, whose further elucidation through systematic research could hold great promise.

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Bernardo Kastrup
Radboud University (PhD)


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