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Louise Spiers

Certain experiences in an uncertain world: transpersonal experiences in epilepsy and their transformative meaning

Some individuals with epilepsy report subjectively meaningful experiences related to their seizures which have a mystical, ecstatic or spiritual nature. These experiences are mostly known through medical vignettes supporting diagnosis. In this research, these transpersonal experiences were explored more deeply. Key findings include the understanding that the experiences are lucid and noetic. The transpersonal experiences are highly prized, and individuals who have them understand them as part of an introspective process that offers existential meaning to their lives. Importantly, the similarity between some of these transpersonal experiences in epilepsy and other exceptional experiences was highlighted, emphasising their transformational potential. The meaning given to these transpersonal experiences suggests that they extend beyond a personal epiphany, to a transformation where the insight is put into service for a wider community.



I am an Integrative Transpersonal Psychotherapist, Researcher and Lecturer. I am interested in mystical and exceptional human experiences, whether that is in the context of the journey of a person´s life and their development within therapy, or in understanding the effect and meaning of these experiences for a group of individuals. I am particularly interested in spiritual experiences of individuals with epilepsy, as these are often pathologisedand stigmatised, rejected as hallucinations and explained away as mere symptoms of epilepsy. My research looks at the nature of these experiences and how similar they are to other exceptional human experiences. So far, people have told me how transformative these experience are and how they use them in service to others. For me, this is a mark of how truly transpersonal they are.