A Dissertatlon Presented By
August !974


I would first like to express appreciation for the help, encouragement and tolerance for exploration given to me by the members of my committee, Dr. Dee Appley (chairperson), Dr. Alexandra Kaplan, Dr. Harold Raush, and Dr. John Weston [see Footnote 1]. I would specifically like to thank Dr. Appley for the meetings we had in the somewhat murky beginnings of this effort. The interest, excitement, and warmth displayed by all of these people is also very much appreciated.

Secondly, I would like to thank the 11 people who consented to let me in on some very exciting, often intimate, experiences. Without their honesty, openness, and trust of my intentions, this study would never have been completed.

Finally, I wish to thank Sally Ives for her excellent and patient job of typing and Jackie Day for her valuable help in transcribing some of the tape-recordings.

There are very few studies in psychology focusing on very positive (or "healthy") states of being; much more common are studies exploring states of pathology.

Inspired by a personal experience of the author which occurred in the summer of 1973, this study focused on "prolonged positive states of being," defined as:

A prolonged experience (of at least several days duration but possibly much longer) during which the person felt fully alive, fully healthy, functioning to the utmost of his or her capabilities, and with an absence, or minimum, of conflicts.

Eleven people (seven women and four men, ranging in ages from about 20 to over 40) who had had such an experience were located. These experiences ranged in duration from three days to about three years.

The method employed in the study was individual in-depth interviews focusing on the individual's experlence. The person first gave an account of the experience in his or her own words. A set of specific questions was then asked of each individual.

The results of the study are presented in two ways: 1) A detailed case-study is provided for each of the 11 experiences; 2) A comparison or analysis is made of some of the relevant dimensions of the experience. Some of the more important results of this analysis are:

1) There is usually a prior period of anxiety, conflict, frustration, or depression,

2) The onset usually involves some change in the external environment (either a change of physical location or a new relationship), but may also involve withdrawal-like activity (e.g., meditation).

3) The experience itself brings about a change in activity: the most common changes being an increased emphasis on physical activity and awareness of the body, and a reduction or absence of the usual pressures associated with working.

4) There is a sense of freedom in relationship with others, an unusual degree of intimacy, often after very little contact, and a tolerant, relaxed, playful attitude towards people in general.

5) There is a high proportion of very positive feelings-- of both the excited and the relaxed varieties, a low proportion of negative feelings, and an ability to handle, learn from, and grow from negative feelings.

6) There is a quieting of the usual mental dialogue, greater efficiency in thinking and concentration, and, in some cases, an increase in visual imagistic thinking with a corresponding decrease in verbal content.

7) Behavior is balanced between the active and passive poles; it is graceful, powerful, decisive, and "centered."

8) A clearing of the senses and an increased appreciation of sensory phenomena is common.

9) There is often a heightened sense of significance or meaning, as well as a heightened sense of reality.

10) There is often an experience of the unification of some normally polarized dichotomies, especially: se1f/other, outer/inner, feelings/thoughts, desires/values, selfish/selfless, freedom/determinism, conscious/unconscious, and masculine/feminine.

11) There is a more clear apprehension of an "inner voice" or "sense," often localized around the lower abdomen region of the body, and an increased trust in one's intuitive impulses.

12) There is often a slowed-down experience of time, a feeling of the irrelevancy of the usual division of experience into temporal units, and a sense of being in the present moment.

13) Some experiences contained examples of 'psychic' phenomena: synchronous events, ESP, precognition, or paranormal phenomena.

14) Omitted.

15) The end of the experlence usually coincided with a change in the external environment (such as a change of location or a loss of a significant other, often the teacher or guide). The end might also be due in part to pressures exerted by other people.

16) The experience is seen as part of an overall process of growth and is usually felt to have "spiritual" (but not religious) implications.

17) The experience usually brings about very positive changes in the person's life, lasting long after the experience itself has terminated.

18) Although this type of experience is felt to be relatively rare in the course of a person's life, most people could remember at least one previous similar experience and did not discount the possibility of future occurrences. In fact, several people felt the experience taught them some of the essentials for having a similar experience and might thereby facilitate such an occurrence in the future.

This type of experience may be viewed as a state of "being" in the midst of "becomlng"-- a synthesis of Maslow's descriptions of positive states ("peak experiences" and "self actualization") and Jung's description of the growth of the personality ("individuation").

Implications for the field of psychology and, in particular, the application of this research to therapy, are discussed.


Chapter I Introduction 1

A Personal Experience 1

Chapter II Review of the literature 7

Theoretical Studies 12
Empirical Studies 32
Firsthand Accounts of Prolonged Positive Experiences 40

Chapter III Rationale and method for a Qualitative Study of Prolonged Positive States of Being 48

Method of the Present Study 52

Chapter IV Findings of the Study: Individual Experiences 61

Angela Rimbaud 64
Peter O'Donnell 76
Craig Postman 85
Emilia Kinkaid 93
Janice Darrow 104
Lilian krackow 112
Singh Ramur 122
Jamy Bryerson 129
Anne Watson 139
Suzanne Nervi 143
Wescott Pomeroy 153

Chapter V Findings of the Study: Discussion of Some of the Relevant Dimonsions of the Experience 164

Duration 164
Location 175
Prior Period 166
Onset 168
Characteristics of the State itself 173
Activity 173
Relationships with others 176
Feelings 184
Thinking 187
Behavior 191
Senses 195
Sense of Significance or Meaning 200
Sense of Reality 201
Unification of Opposites 203
Self/Other 203
Outer/Inner 205
Subjective/Objective 206
Feelings/Thoughts 2O7
Masculine/Feminine 207
Desires/Values 2O9
Selfish/Selfless 210
Freedom/Determinism 211
Conscious/Unconscious 213
Consciousness of an "Inner Voice" 213
Time Sense 216
Psychic Phenomena 218
Teachers or Spiritual Guides 224
End of the Experience 225
Characterizations of the Total Process 229
Results of the Experience 231
Similar Experiences 234
Chapter VI Conclusions and Implications 235


[1] [Note: Numbers in square brackets correspond to page numbers in original manuscript]

There is a very curious phenomenon existing in the field of psychology: the almost total exclusion of the concern with, thought about, or study of states of health or positLve states of being. This exclusion is so total as to have almost passed unnoticed by many in the field. When one thinks of the states of being under the province of psychology one normally thinks of depression, anxiety, neurosis, paranoia, schizophrenia, etc., but rarely of happliness, ecstasy, joy, or contentment.

The present study, which has its origins in the personal experiences of the author, is a small step towards a psychology of positive being. Its focus is on prolonged positive experience-- those experiences having a duration of at least several days, but possibly much longer. I will attempt to relate the experiences to the growth of the total personality.

A Personal Experience

For a little over three weeks, I was on a journey at once physical, psychological, and spiritual. I was free and was flying high-- perhaps freer and higher than ever before in my life.

The physical facts are easy to relate: I left Los [2] Angeles on a Sunday morning in early August; I hitched on U.S. 1 up the Pacific coast; two or three days in Bug Sur, four or five in Santa Cruz, then a few in San Franclsco and Berkeley, inland into the woods and mountalns for over a week, then back to San Francisco and Berkeley for several days before taking a plane from San Francisco to Boston.

I met many people and developed several intense relationships in very short periods of time. I camped out in the woods, on the beaches, in the mountains, or stayed with people I met while on the road. I ate whenever I was hungry, was alone when I needed to be, climbed or ran when the urge hit me, and went out to people when I felt like belng with someone.

I was leaving behind one of the most bizarre, intense, frightening, lonely, rich, challenging, tension-filled years of my llfe-- an internship at a chlld guidance clinic in Los Angeles, a city where initially I knew absolutely no one-- to which I had hitched some 6,OOO miles (through Canada and the West coast) a year earlier. I had been in this strange city for a year without a car-- in a place where a car is almost as necessary for survival as is food. This was the year an intense relationship (with a woman) of several years' duration, was shattered. There were the innumerable pressures of the clinic and constant challenges to my ideas and clinical work by some very good (and also by some very bad) supervisors. There were personal conflicts of unprecedented [3] magnitude, finally culminating in a decision to enter therapy. What I was leaving behind was a period in which I threw myself headlong into a totally new and, for the most part, alien environment and tried very hard to find the life energy in it and within myself. I left Los Angeles with a feeling of completion and a feeling of impatience to be free, to be on the road again, to be in the sun (without a protective coating of smog).

Two or three days out of the city I started experiencing a peace and calmness perhaps unknown at any other time in my life. I was happy, joyful, delighted at being alive. I was excited and was bursting with energy-- physical, mental, and emotional. I felt almost totally free and unrestricted. My actLons seemed more spontaneous and "right" (in the sense of belng appropriate to the total situation). My thoughts were clearer, quieter, and less conflicted than usual. In addition, several aspects of living which in everyday life are usually polarized, dichotomized, or in conflict were found to be somehow "fused:" thoughts and feelings were often felt to be united; there was little difference between desires and values; actions that seemed good for me seemed to be good for others; the boundary between 'myself' and the outside world was at times obliterated. I was much more aware than is usual for me of an "inner voice" or "impulse" that "told me" what I wanted to do in any situation. I felt free to follow this voice as I wished although I can't remember not [4] following it. My senses seemed much sharper than normal (as if 'cleansed'). I felt that I was able to notice smaller details or subtleties that I normally night have missed. I had more appreciation of just being alive and of the entire Universe (especially Nature) than perbaps ever before (certalnly for any prolonged duration such as this).

The ways in which I met and experienced others were very different from what I was used to. I was able to relate to the most varied and diverse people, many of whom had certaln qualities or traits which I would have normally disliked or even have found abhorrent, with an almost continuous positive feeling. I met people incredibly easily and seemed to be aware of cues (mostly non-verbal) I would have ordinarily missed. These provided "openings" in what might have appeared otherwise to be impregnable walls. I met Mike (around 20) when I asked him if he knew of a good place to eat in Santa Cruz. We ate together, talked, and ended up travelling together for the next four or five days. I met Frances after noticing her at a distance whi1e I was sitting near a fountain. A11 at once she was walk{ng directly towards me across a vast plaza; we looked directly at each other; she sat down next to me and we started talking as if we knew each other. I was with her for the next two days. I met Anne while she was selllng jewelry she had made on the street in Berkeley. I helped her carry her displays to her house. She began getting a little anxious that I would want, something she wasn't [5] prepared to give. I sensed this and left. The next day I saw her agaln. We talked very intensely whlle sitting on the curb, with traffic buzzing all around us. I went home with her and was with her for the next four days. In these and other relatlonships, I felt that I could dispense with almost all of the customary social preliminaries and relate on a very intimate level (including the sexual level in a few instances) very quickly and without self-consciousness. It was as if I had found a new key for relating to people. Many times I didn't have to make the initial move-- people approached me (this included women, which is still rare in our culture and certainly rare in my previous experience). Apparently others could find ny "spaces" and move into them as easily as I could find and move into theirs. Leavlng was done by "feel" and not by forethought or planning. When it felt rlght to leave, I (or the other person) simply left. There were rarely any regrets or hurt feelings. There was also an open-ended feeling about the future course of the relationship. In several cases, I later communicated by letter with people that I had met. One girl visited me several times after I returned to Massachusetts. It is possible that I may see some of these people in the future.

On the twenty-fourth day of my journey, I was conscious of having to make a decision-- whether to prolong my trip or to return to the East coast and a new job due to start in several days. I could have sent a telegram saying I would be [6] back in a week, but smehow I knew it was over. I flew from San Francisco to Boston that night.

Almost immediately on my return I experienced the crash.I felt like I was jolted back to earth with the harsh reality of everyday demands-- finding a place to live, getting a car, the demands of my new job, the anxiety over my doctoral dissertation, the pain of seeing the woman I had formerly been living with now with someone else. Gradually, however, I became resettled in the New England environment and even, in time, began to feel that many of the positive effects of my experience were being carried over. These effects were especially noticeable once I had reentered therapy. Because of the impact on my life of this experience and because of my desire to discover something about this type of experience in the lives of others, I decided to do research on this very positive state of being.


[7] The literature that I will discuss falls into three main categories: 1) theoretlcal discussions of "positive mental health," specifically those discussions focusing on (or at least including mention in the discussion of) periods of prolonged positive experience (of at least several days duratLon); 2) empirical studies investigating "in vivo" situations of a pronounced positive nature. In terms of the range of such experience, I have allowed myself wider scope than I have in the theoretical section. For example, I have included several studies of less prolonged positive experiences (note especially the "ecstatic experience"). In each case I have focused primarily on those aspects of the shorter experience which might conceivably be also part of a more prolonged experience; 3) literary or autobiographical accounts of prolonged positive experiences.

I have excluded (with a few exceptions) the following:

1) theoretical or empirical studies of drug experiences and other externally- or self-induced short-term altered states of consciousness (for example, the immediate effects of such practlces as meditation, yoga, or hypnosis). Not only is the duration of such experience typically short, but such experiences are usually difficult to conceptualize [8] as part of the natural development of the personality (Tart, 1969; White, 1972). In addition, most altered states of consciousness (as that term is defined by Ludwig, 1966 in Tart, 1969) are too intense to al1ow a course of "normal" action and interaction. Finally, certain features of such states seem very much opposed to the qualities of the state under dlscusslon here: 1) subjective dlsturbances in concentration, memory, and judgment; 2) loss of control; 3) perceptual distortions ; 4) hypersuggestibility (Ludwig in Tart, 1969).

2) The type of religious or "mystical" experience (examples: the religious "conversion" experience, in James, 1961; the. "mystical" experience, in Zaehner, 1967; the "satori" or enlightenment experience of Zen, in Kapleau, 1965; Linssen, 1969) in which a person is momentarily (or, for at the very most, a few hours) in a different state of consciousness (sometimes without any attempt at self-induction). Here again the duration of the experience is too short for the experience to be considered in this study. In addition, some of these states may exclude consciousness of the external world for the duration of the experience (James, 1961).

In the above two categories of experlence, an outward or internal stimulus trlggers a very intensen but relatively brief, alteration of consciousness. Omly in so far as these types of experiences aid in elucidating the nature of more prolonged experiences w111 they be considered. (It sometimes happens, for example, that the onset of a prolonged positive [9] state is somehow connected with an intentional or uninten- tional short-term alteration of consciousness. Thus a meditation or yogic experience, or a "conversion" or "satori" experience may lead to a longer [usually less intense] state.)

The most striking characteristic of the psychological literature on positive states of being is its extreme scarcity. This void is obvious both in empirical studies and in theoretical treatments. A primary reason for this state of affairs is the inadequacy of most current methodology for dealing wLth some of the more complex aspects of man. One critic of modern psychology, Joseph Wood Krutch complained,

We have been deluded by the fact that the methods employed for the study of man have been for the most part those originally devlsed for the study of machines or the study of rats, and are capable, therefore, of detecting and measuring those characteristics which the three have in common (in Allport, 1955, pp. 2-3).

Perhaps less easy to explaln is the scarcity of theoretical discussions of positive mental health or positive states of being. One concept which has only recently been questioned by a number of theoreticians and which has, without a doubt, hindered progress ln thls area, has been the idea of a single continuum from negative mental health ("sickness") [10] to positive mental health. Even with the evidence (which will later be dlscussed) for a two-dimensional view of mental health (comprised of separate positive and negative dimensions), it is difficult for many in the field to conceive of positive mental health as anything but the absence of illness. In an afterword to Jahoda's book, "Current Concepts of Positive Mental Health (1958), Walter Barton, a psychiatrist, confesses,

It is difficult for me, as a clinician, to separate the presence of health from those preventative measures that reduce the likelihood of the development of disease and illness. I believe most patients would settle for the absence of illness. If they are not sick, they are well (p. 119).

Barton believes his view is "typical of physicians." From the overwhelming emphasis on negative states of belng in the field of psychology, it appears that most psychologists agree wlth this view also.

The single continuum idea only partially explains the bias in research towards negatLve factors in the personality. Why, for example, does not the bias go in the positive direction? Among the few who have done emperical studies related to positive states, Bradburn and Caplovitz (1965)frankly admit, "It ls easier to ask people what is wrong in thelr lives and what troubles they are having than it is to ask what is right and what positive satisfactions they are experiencing" (p. 130). Tomklns (1974), commenting on the [11] lack of thorough investigation of the positive affects produced by stimulation of the "pleasure centers" of the brain, offers one possible explanation for this negative bias:

Surprisingly little attention has been glven to the affective changes related to positively rewarding braln stimulation . . . . We can only suppose that the magical use of the word reinforcement is in part responsible for the failure of one of the most important discoveries of this century to be fully exploited theoretically . . . . Its fallure to be exploited derives from its positive nature. Although we are accustomed to food as a reinforcer, It is the reductlon of the negatlve hunger drive which is held to be the true reinforcer, rather than the pleasure of eating. There is an enduring straln of Puritanism in learning theory which prompts avoidance and devaluation of positive reinforcement. The notion that positive stimulation per se can motivate has been for American psychology a bitter pill which has not yet been swallowed with pleasure (pp. 390-391).

Allport (1955) offers an historical basis for the theoretical difficulties Amerlcan psychology has had in accounting for personal growth and positive states of being. Although he apologizes for the oversimplification, Allport views modern psychological theories as tending towards either one of two polar conceptions: these he terms the "Lockian tradition"-- emphasizing the passive nature of man's mind (after Locke) and the "Leibnitzian tradition"-- emphasizing the mind's active nature (after Leibnitz). American psychology, Allport argues, has been primarily Lockian. Some of the major tenets of such a viewpoint seriously undermine attempts at developing a theory of positive being: [12]

1) "That what is external and visible is more fundamental than what ls not" (thereby diminishlng the importance of subjective or internal states of man).

2) "That what is small and molecular is more fundamental than what is large and molar" (thereby making it more difficult to focus on complex behaviors, feelings, thoughts, or states of being).

3) The idea of species equlvalence-- "that every basic feature of human nature can be studied without essential loss among lower species" (thus devalueing the lmportance of studying man in all his uniqueness and complexity).

4) "That what is earlier ls more fundamental than what is late in development"-- "Thls point of view creates considerable difficulty for a theory of growth and change in personality" (pp. 9-11).

Allport continues, "So dominant ls the positivistic ideal that other fields of psychology come to be regarded as not quite reputable. Special aversion attaches to problems having to do with complex motives, high-level integration, with conscience, freedom, selfhood" (p. 12).

In splte of the overwhelming neglect of positive states of being, a few notable theoretical attempts ln this direction have emerged.

Theoretical Studies

Perhaps the most lucid and wide-ranging theory of the process of the growth of the personality was conceived by CarL Gustav Jung. Jung, in fact, saw this growth as central to the meaning of man's life. [13]

The ultimate aim and strongest desire of all man- kind is to develop that fullness of life which is called personality . . . . Our personality develops in the course of our life from germs that are hard or impossible to discern, and it is only our deeds which reveal who we are. We are like the sun, which nourishes the life of the earth and brings forth every kind of strange, wonderful, and evil thing (Jung, 1954, 1967-173).

Jung was careful to point out, however, that only a few would meet the challenge of attaining their own personality. This is, in part, due to the fact that the direction of personal development is often at odds with one's suroundings. Thus, "the first fruit" of the development of personality "is the conscious and unavoidable segregation of the single individual from the undifferentiated and unconscious herd. This means isolation" (Jung, 1954, p. 173).

Jung used the term, "individuation," which he defined as "the process by which a person becomes a psychological 'individual', that is, a separate, indivisible unity or 'whole'" (Jung, 1959b, p. 275). This 'whole' for Jung included not only the contents of the conscious mind but also the contents of the unconscious.

Jung wrote of an "Inner Voice"-- the voice of the true self, which one must follow if one is to develop his personality to the fullest. This voice, "like a daemon whispering of new and wonderful paths" (Jung, 1954, p. 175-176) is essentially unpredictable. The actions of the person following his "Inner Voice" thus take on some unpredictable qualities. The inner voice makes itself heard through dreams, ideas "out [14] of the blue," slips, lapses of memory and spontaneous fantasies (Jung, 1969e).

It is critical for the conscious mind (ego) to confront the unconscious material but not to be overwhelmed by it (this could lead to a schizophrenic reaction). Jung felt that:

The confrontation of the two positions (conscious and unconscious) generates a tension charged with energy and creates a living third thing-- not a logical stillbirth . . . but a movement of the suspension between opposites, a living birth that leads to a new level of being, a new situation. The 'transcendent function' manifests itself as a quality of comprised opposites. So long as these are kept apart-- naturally for the purpose of avoiding conflict-- they do not function and remain inert . . . [This 'transcendent function'] is a way of attaining liberation by one's own efforts and of finding the courage to be onself (Jung, 1969e, pp. 90-91).

The onset of the process of individuation is seen to occur only through "the motivating force of inner or outer fatalities" (Jung, 1954, p. 173)-- otherwise there would be no movement. A Jungian theorist, M.L. von Franz, argues:

The actual process of individuation . . . . generally begins with a wounding of the personality and the suffering that accompanies it. This initial shock amounts to a kind of "call," although it is not usually recognized as such . . . [in such a situation], there is only one thing that seems to work; and that is to turn directly towards the approaching darkness without prejudice and totally naively, and to try to find out what its secret aim is and what it wants from you (in Jung, 1964, p. 167).

Thus, the process of growth is seen to involve [15] experiencing painful states of being and does not occur if such states are glossed over or repressed (Jung, 1959c).

Part of the pain comes from the discarding of the "persona" or social mask that once made up the larger part of the personality and the simultaneous confrontation with the "shadow,"or once hidden negative side of the personality. As the process of individuation continues, the person must confront his "anima" (the female side of a man) or her "animus" (the masculine side of a woman). Other contents of the unconscious are not so easily categorized: they are manifested in "archetypal" images and symbols, which seemingly,"have a lLfe of their own."

Besides the possibility of being overwhelmed by the unconscious contents, the conscious ego runs another risk: the identification with these contents, which produces an "inflation" and "threatens consciousness with dissolution" (Jung, 1959a, p. 145). Each personification of the unconscious has both a dark and a lLght side. The dark side of the "self" (the true psychic center of the personality) is especially dangerous. Confrontation with this aspect of the unconscious can make one a meglomaniac unable to maintain ordinary human contacts. In order to counteract this danger, the ego must continue to function in the ordinary way at the same time the self is contacted (Franz, in Jung, 1964).

There are two main blocks to the process of individuation: [16]

1) Being caught up by instincts (ex.: sexual) or day-dreaming; or

2) The exact opposite: "being overly trapped in "ego-consciousness" (the concerns of external reality-- making a living, success, etc.) (Franz, in Jung, 1954).

"Almost invariably accompanying the crucial phases of the process of individuation" are "synchronistic events"-- meaningful coincidences that cannot be explained in causal terms (Franz, in Jung, 1964, p. 211). Examples of synchronous events are extra-sensory perception (ESP), astrological "predictions" or "coincidences," psycho-kinesis (PK), and premonitions of physical events. This class of events will be more fully discussed later on in this paper.

Goldbrunner, a Jungian theorist, gives some indication of the outcome of the process of individuation:

The tensions and opposites fade and alternate, and the self is born, the goal of individuation, dis- solvable probLems lose their urgency as a higher and wider interest arises on the horizon. The problems from which one suffers are not solved logically but simply fade out in the face of a new and stronger direction, in life . . .

The strength of the emotions ls felt even now, one suffers, is shattered and tormented, and yet everything is different, something in the soul is no longer inside pain, but beyond it. And this is the deepest place where one ls quite alone with oneself.

The ego feels itself to be an obJect, a part of an unknown and superior self. It is as though the conduct of life's affairs had passed to an invisible central authority. The appearance of thls feeling almost always brings a solution of, spiritual complications, the personality is released from [17] emotional and lntellectual entanglements. A unity of one's whole nature is experienced which is felt as llberatlon . . . .

The new centre of the psyche is felt to be a point of suspension of all tensions; it is outside them and yet it embraces them in a peculiar way. It unites them in a center; something like pure life, pure psychic energy can be felt there (1964 pp. 144-150).

While Jung stressed primarily the process of growth or "becomlng" Abraham Maslow in his work, Towards a Psychology of Being (1962), focused more lntensely on the actual healthy state of "being."

Maslow clearly differentiates deficiency ("D") motivation from growth (or "B" for "being") motivation-- the former is based on the reduction of tension resulting from prlmary needs (hunger, thirst, sex, etc.) or from neurotic conflicts; the latter is based on a continual striving for personal growth and integration. In Maslow's theory, the lower needs must be met before the higher needs emerge. Thus, he argues, "Man's higher nature, ideals, aspirations, and abilities rest not upon instinctual renunciatlon, but rather upon instinctual gratificatlon" (p. 163).

Maslow's theory is derived both from clinical work and personal contact with healthy (or "self-actualized" people) and from interviews and questionnaires about the "peak experience"-- a momentary experience of rapture, wonder, joy, and, perhaps above all, unity. The condition of self-actualization is defined by Maslow as having the following clinically [18] observable characteristics:

1) Superior perception of reality.
2) Increased acceptance of self, of others, and of nature.
3) Increased spontaneity.
4) Increase in problem-centering.
5) Increased detachment and desire for privacy.
6) Increased autonomy and resistance to enculturation.
7) Greater freshness of appreciation and richness of emotional reaction.
8) Higher frequency of peak experiences.
9) Increased identity wIth the human species.
10) Changed (the clinician would say improved) interpersonal relatlonships.
11) More democratic character structure.
12) Greatly increased creativity.
13) Certain changes in the value system (1962 pp. 23-24).

Most or all of these characteristics may be present at some time durlng the state under investigation here.

Several other aspects of Maslow's work have relevance to this study. Of primary importance is the fusion of opposites into a new whole (or "gestalt") characteristic of being in both the peak experience and in the lives of self-actualized people.

At the level of self-actualizing, many dichotomies become resolved, opposites are seen to be unities and the whole dichotomous way of thinking is recognized to be immature. For self-actualizing people, there is a strong tendency for selfishness and unselfishness to fuse into a higher, superordinate unity. Work tends to be the same as play . . . . When duty is pleasant and pleasure is fuifillment of duty, then they lose their separateness and oppositeness. The highest maturity ls discovered to include a childlike quality . . . . The inner-outer split, between self and all else, gets fuzzy and much less sharp (p. 193). [19]

Another type of integration in self-actualization is a lessening of the separation between behavioral, affective, and cognitive systems. The resolution of once-conflicted elements in this state leads to a freeing of once "bound" energy; this energy is now available for outside interests and creative pursuits. Because of the lack of inner conflict, a person who ls self-actuatized is more likely to be able to deal with situations of external stress or conflict and even to seek out (as exciting) situations which are dangerous, ambiguous, or which have unknown or mysterious elements.

Another relevant aspect of Maslow's theory is his notion of "impulse voices"-- analagous to Jung's "Inner Voice." These he feels are "instinct remnants" and are:

weak, subtle, and delicate, very easily drowned out by learning, by cultural expectations, by fear, by disapproval, etc. They are hard to know, rather than easy. Authentic selfhood can be defined in part as being able to hear these impulse-voices within oneself, i.e. to know what one really wants or doesn't want, what one is fit for and what one is not fit for. It appears that there are wide individual differences in the strength of these impulse-volces (p. 179).

Finally, Maslow, like Jung, emphasizes the intrlnsic pain of growth, whlch "frequently means a parting and a separatLon, even a kind of death prior to rebirth, with consequent nostalgia, fear, loneliness, and mourning" (p. 190).

The work of William James (1961) sheds lights on a particular sub-category of positive experiences, those he terms [20] "religious" experiences. Some of these types of experiences may be relatively brief, notably the "mystic" experience which has 'transiency' as one of its defining characteristics and the religious "conversion" experience whlch itself is normally very intense and: short-lived (often momentary-- rarely more than a few hours) but may have long-lasting (even permanent) after-effects of a very positive nature. For this reason, we will examine those aspects of the conversion experience which appear to have some relevance for the understanding of the more durable state, which James calls "saintliness."

James views the conversion experience as a shift in consciousness. Religious ideas or values which were once peripheral to one's existence become (often suddenly) central. But he adds:

If you ask of psychology just how the excitement shifts in a man's mental system, and why aims that were peripheral become at a certain moment central, psychology has to reply that although she can give a general description of what happens, she is unable in a given case to account accurately for all the forces at work . . . . Neither an outstde observer nor thesubject who undergoes the processcan explain fully how particular experiences are able to change one's center of energy so decisively, or why they often have to bide their hour to do so (James, 1961, p. 165).

Even though a man may consciously strive to become converted, in the end he must surrender to a higher power. James believes Starbuck's explanation of the process is a [21] good one and quotes it:

The personal will must be given up . . . a man's conscious wit and will, so far as they strain towards the ideal, are aiming at something only dimly perceived and inaccuratety imagined. Yet all the while the forces of mere organic ripening within him are going towards their own prefigured results, and his conscious strivings are letting loose subconscious allies behind the scenes, which in their way work towards rearrangement, and the rearrangement towards which all these deeper forces tend is pretty surely definite, and definitely different from what he consciously conceives and determines. It may consequently be actually interfered with (jammed as it were, like the lost word when we seek too energetically to recall it) by his voluntary efforts slanting from the true direction (1961, p. 167).

The conversion experience is often preceded by a dark period-- "a sense of incompleteness and imperfection; brooding; depression, morbid introspection and sense of sin; anxiety about the here-after; distress over doubts, etc." (James, 1961, p. 167).

The characteristics of this experience as described by James (1961) are:

1) a sense of higher control.
2) a sense of inner certainty-- a "loss of all the worry; the sense that all is ultimately well with one; peace, harmony, a willingness to be, even though the outer world should remain the same" (p. 202).
3) a perception of truths not known before.
4) a changed perception of the objective world-- often visual clarity is sharpened. [22]
5) An "ecstasy of happiness" is felt.

Some of these effects may persist (usually in less intense form) after the initial experience. However, James is quick to point out:

Notoriously there is no such radiance (as to distinguish the 'converted' man from the 'unconverted'). Converted men as a class are indistinguishable from natural men; some natural men even excell some converted men in their fruits (1961, p. 195).

In spite of this statement, James does feel that in some people the conversion experience bears fruit of a positive sort. Some converted people lose desires for drLnk, tobacco, or adultery (some, unfortunately, lose the desire for sex, entirely). James terms the most durable and positive result of the conversion experience, "saintliness" and gives its psychological components:

1) a feeling of being in a wider life than that of this world's selfish little interests; and a conviction . . . of the existence of an Ideal Power.
2) a sense of the friendly continuity of the Ideal Power with our own life, and a willing surrender to its control.
3) an immense elation and freedom, as the outlines of the confined self-hood melt down.
4) a shifting of the enotional centre towards loving and harmonious affections, towards 'yes, yes' and away from 'no' where the claims of the non-ego ane involved (1961, p. 220-221).

James' listing of some of the practical consequences of this state make it obvious that the religious framework provides a meaning-scheme for the "saintly" person. Such [23] consequences are:

1) Ascetism--with offshoots of obedience, chastity and poverty.
2) Strength of soul.
3) Purity--giving up "sins" and "fleshy pleasures."
4) Charity--caring for the poor.

Although James' judgment of the condition of "saintliness" is in general quite favorable, he also notes several dangers or excesses of the state. in the lives of some saints, for example, an extravagance of emotion was apparent, the intellect being too narrow. James feels the lives of other saints had no practical value to other human beings-- especially in those cases in which the person was absorbed in experiencing God's "favors" and secluded himself or herself from the rest of the world. Excesses of purity caused some salnts to go to extreme lengths to avoid temptation-- thus even further removing themselves from the world.

On the other hand, the tenderness and charity exhibited by "saintly" people, James notes, often transforms even unlikely characters for the good and is a creative and useful social force. In addition, the ascetism and poverty of the saint may lead to strengthened character and a lack of such fears as losing money, which, many "lesser" creatures are plagued by.

Another major theorist in the area of personal growth has been Gordon Allport (1958). Besides hls stress on the [24] possibility of a Leibnitzian focus on an active organism, Allport emphasizes the role of motivated striving, above and "instincts" and neurotlc needs-- the dimension of the futurity of men's behavior relatlve to the pursuance of work, values, or ideals outside of themselves. Allport, unllke most modern theorists, stresses the importance of studying and understanding the individual, rather than the statistically "normal" man.

Central to Allport's theory is his notion of the "proprium," defined as "all the regions of our life that we regard as peculiarly ours . . . . The proprium includes all as- pects of personality that make for inward unity" (1958, p. 40). Properties of the proprium include: a bodily sense, self-identity, ego-enhancement,ego-extension (identity with groups, possessions, and ideals), a rational agent (tne "ego"), self-image (including a person's aspirations), propriate striving (persistent striving towards long-range goals regarded as central to one's existence), and a "knower" (or seat of consciousness).

Allport argues that the "demands of our environment cause us to develop numerous systems of behavlor that seem to dwell forever on the periphery of our being . . . . we know that we put on an appearance for the occasion, but we know too that such expression is a masklike expression of our persona and not central to our self-image" (p. 77). A hypothesis arising from this idea is that if the environmental [25] demands upon a person are somehow reduced, perhaps more of his "real" self (in hls own terms) miqht emerge.

A major review of the current concepts of positive mental health was attempted by Jahoda (1958). She classified theoretical attempts to conceptualize positive mental health into six major types of approaches:

1) Emphasis on attitudes toward the self as criteria for mental health. Several aspects of such attitudes are noted:

a) Self-objectification: Both Allport [all references not followed by dates are given in Jahoda (1958)] and Mayman stress self-objectification or the ability to be aware of the self as a major criterion of health. Barron, on the other hand, states that a lack of self-consciousness is more characteristic of health than of pathology. Kubie (with whom Jahoda agrees) reconciles the apparently opposing positions by claiming that health requires not constant self-consciousness but only the accessibility to consciousness of the self when the need arises.

b) Correctness of the self-concept: the lmportance of seeing the self "realistically."

c) Feellngs about the self-concept: the importance of acceptlng the self including one's shortcomings.

d) Sense of identity.

2. Growth, development, and self-actualization as criteria for mental health: Besides Jung, Maslow, and Allport, several other theorists have developed these criteria. Among [26] them are Mayman, who distinguishes healthy people by thelr "investment in living"-- the "range and quality of a person's concern with other people and the things of this world . . . that he considers significant" (Jahoda, 1958, p. 35).

3) Integration as a criterion for mental health: Different aspects of this criterion are stressed by various authors --

a) Balance of psychic forces: Hartmann and Kubie both emphasize the importance of being able to shift back and forth between the Id, Ego, arrd the Superego.

b) Unifying outlook on life ; Allport's "proprium" is certainly relevant here, as is Maslow's finding that self-actualizing people have very definite ethical standards (although these might be quite idlosyncratic)and Erikson's notion of the importance of the acceptance of one's own 1ife cycle.

c) Resistance to stress: The more stress a person can tolerate, accordlng to some authors, the healthier he is.

4) Autonomy as a crlterion for mental health: In thls connection, Maslow stresses that self-actualizers are "not dependent for their main satisfactions on the real world, or other people or culture or . . . in general, on extrinsic satisfaction . . . These people can maintaln a relative serenity and happiness in the midst of circumstances that would drive other people to suicide" (Jahoda, 1958, p. 47). Angyal stresses a balance between two trends: [27] "self-determination," the goal of whlch is "to organize . . . the objects and events of (one's) world, to bring them under his own jurisdiction and government" and "self-surrender," "to become an organic part of something that (one) conceives of as greater than himself" (Jahoda, 1958 p. 48).

5) Perception of reality as a criterion for mental health: Schachtel (1959) discusses the imnportance of developing perception relatively free from need-distortion. Jahoda (1958) maintains that healthy people will be more likely to test reality for its degree of correspondence with their own perceptions, while the less healthy willsimply assume such correspondence. Foote and Cottrell (in Jahoda, 1958) emphasize the ability to empathize wlth others (to perceive reality in the other's terms) as important to mental health.

6) Environmental mastery as a criterion for mental health: included in this criterion are the ability to love another emotionally and sexually (stressed especially by Reich, 1942); adequacy in work and play; adequacy in social relationships; and problem-solvlng ability.

Tomkins (1962) is one of the relatively few theoreticians who has focused on a physiological and psychological description of the positive affects. He postulates two distinct positive affects:

1) Interest-Excitement (the former a low intensity affect; the latter, high intensity): This affect is activated by increasing neural stimulatLon. It is characterized [28] physiologically by a pulling down of the eyebrows and a tracking response involving active looking and listening. Tomkins (1962) notes:

The absence of the affective support of interest would jeopardize intellectual development no less than the destruction of brain tissue. To think, as to engage in any other human activity, one must care, one must be excited, (one) must be continually rewarded (p. 343).

He feels this affect is necessary for both physiological survival and for creative activity.

2) Enjoyment-Joy: This affect is activated by a decreasing gradient of neural activation. It ls characterized physiologically by the smile-- the lips being widened up and out.

Tomkins maintains that the most attractive stimuli:

possess both sufficient novelty and sufficient similarity so that both positive affects are reciprocally activated, interest-excitement by the novel aspects of the stimuli and enjoyment-joy by the recognition of the familiar and the reduction of interest-excitement (1962, p. 213).

Shelly (1969) views satisfaction in terms of reinforcement. Citing Berlyne's studies of reported positive affects associated with the "pleasure centers" of the brain, Shelly conceives of pleasure as a momentary stimulation of these braln centers. He defines "happiness" as the number of satisfactions exceeding the number of dissatisfactions for a particular period of time. One obvious weakness of this [29] definition is the absence of an intenslty factor. Shelly also introduces some specific terminology for the pleasuarable affects, classified according to the duration of the affect:

"pleasure"-- momentary
"satisfaction"-- 5 seconds to one hour
"extended satisfaction"-- one hour +
"happiness"-- one week or longer

Accordlng to this scheme, the term "extended satisfaction" could be appropriate in describing some of the experiences reported in this study and the term 'happiness', some others.

Several theorists, whom I will only briefly mention, have also made contributions to the available fund of theories of postitive being. Robert Neale, a theologian, views optimal human development in terms of a model of play-defined as non-conflicted actions, affects, and cognitions (1969) Martin Buber, a philosopher and theologian, focuses specifically on the potential for positive human interactlon in his work, I and Thou (1958). He states:

No system of ideas, no foreknowledge, and no fancy intervene between I and Thou . . . . No aim, no lust, and no anticipation intervene between I and Thou. Desire itself is transformed as it plunges out of its dream into the appearance. Every means is an obstacle. Only when every means has collapsed does the meeting come about (pp. 11-12).

Flngarette (1963) describes the self in transformation from neurotic er deficiency based actions to the consummatory phase of "mystle selflessness" during which one is able to [30] act appropriately and without internal conflict and especially without hindering self-consciousness.

Before leaving the theoretical section behind, we must briefly consider the role of some specific technical procedures designed to change (over a span of years of practice) the course of the practitioner's life in a more positive direction. (These procedures may also facilitate short-term, intense breakthrough experiences, for example, the satori experience of Zen, which will not be considered here, as earlier explained.) The Eastern tradition (exemplified in Zen Buddhism, Yogi, and in the way of the Sufi) contains a more developed set of such procedures than does the West. Such procedures include various physical posture and movements (the "asanas" of Yogi and the "spinning" of the whirling Dervishes), concentration on breathing (common in some forms of Yogi and Zen), on a visual pattern (especially a "mandala"), or on an impossible riddle (the "Koan" of Zen), on a sound (or "mantra" in Yogi) or on the "void," "nirvana," or "nothingness" (Kapleau, 1965; Ornstein, 1972).

All of these procedures may be subsumed under the category of "meditation" and, various as they seem, they do have something in common.

The common element in these dlverse practices seems to be the active restriction of awareness to one single, unchanging process, and the withdrawal of attention from ordering thought. I does not seem to matter which actual physical process is followed; whether one symbol or another ls employed; whether [31] the visual system is used or body movement repeated . . . (Ornstein, 1972, p. 122).

The aim of these procedures is to stop the normal processes of thought and perception so that another mode of apprehension may come to the surface. This other mode may be seen as more intuitive, more "whole," more of the unhindered senses, more timeless, more receptive (or "feminine") as opposed to that mode of consciousness taken by many as "reality" in the West: the intellectual, the analytic, the verbal, that tied to a linear, sequential view of time, the active (or "masculine") (Jung, 1959; Ornsteln, 1972). Ornstein (1972) relates the former mode to the rlght hemisphere of the brain (whlch controls the left half of the body) and the latter and the left hemisphere (controlling the right half of the body).

Jung writes of the "technical transformation" achieved by the above types of techniques:

The exercises known in the East as Yoga and in the West as "exercitia spiritualia" come into this category. These experiences represent specific techniques prescribed in advance and intended to achieve a definite psychlc effect, of, at least to promote it . . . . They are . . . elaborations of the original natural spontaneous processes of transformation [or "individuation] . . . . The natural or spontaneous transformations that occurred earlier before there were any historical examples to follow, were thus replaced by techniques designed to induce the transformation by imitating this same sequence of events (Jung, 1959a, p. 129).

Another type of technique employed may also be called [32] 'meditation', but it is of an "opening up" type rather than the restriction of awareness type previously mentioned. Kapleau describes the advanced practice of the Sota Sect of Zen:

In Shikan-taza ["just sitting"] the mind must be unhurried yet at the same time firmly planted or massively composed, like Mt. Fuji, let us say. But it also must be alert, stretched, 1Lke a taut bowstring. So shikan-taza is a heightened state of concentrated awareness wherein one is neither tense nor hurried, and certainly never slack. It is the mind of somebody faclng death (1965, p. 53).

In some schools, "opening up" meditation is being unaware of oneself, without judgment or excessive thought, in every situation one finds oneself in. Gurdjieff's students are, for example, constantly reminded to "remember themselves" at all times. Another way of stating this technique is that one is constantly attentive to the happenings in everyday life and tries to minimize intellectualization, abstraction, and value judgments (Ornstein, 1972).

Besides the largely theoretical treatments just dlscussed, there have been a very small number of empirical studies which have some relevance to the positive state of being under investigation in this paper. (Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate a single empirical study in the psychological literature focusing specifically on prolonged positive states.)

Empirical Studies

Most informative and rich among these few studies is Laski's (1951) work on ecstatic experiences. A1though these experiences were almost always quite brief (rarely exceeding [33] 1/2 hour and often momentary) Laski's analysis aids in understanding some of the conditions necessary for, and some of the characteristics of,positive experiences in general. She draws her conclusions from two main sources: 1) responses to a questionnaire concerning personal ecstatic experiences, and 2) an examination of the secular and religious literature on ecstatic experience.

Laski's questionnaire was answered by 58 Ss; both sexes and a wide age range were represented. The actual questions asked were as follows:

1) Do you know a sensation of transcendent ecstasy?
2) How would you describe it?
3) What has induced it in you?
4) How many times in your life have you felt it-- in units, tens, hundreds?
5) What is your religion or faith?
6) Do you know a feeling of creative inspiration?
7) How would you describe it?
8) Does it seem to you to have anything in common with ecstasy?
9) what ls your profession? (Laski, !961, p. 9).

The ecstatic experiences described by Laski's Ss were sometimes characterized by a lack of touch with normal life and with people not experiencing the state, and usually had a noticeable (and often profound) influence on their later life. Some of the more prominent subjective feelings reported were:

feelings of new life, satisfaction joy, salvation, purification, glory; new and/or mystical knowledge;loss of words, images, sense; unity, eternity; heaven; loss of worldliness, sorrow, desire, sin; up-feelings; contact; enlargement or improvement; loss of self; loss of difference, time and place; light [34] and/or heat feelings; peace and calm; ineffability; release (1961, p. 41).

The frequency of such experiences was typically rare: 5O% of the Ss claimed the experience in units, 38% in tens, and only 12% in hundreds or constantly.

Laski lists several stimuli or situations (whlch she calls "anti-triggers") having an inhibiting effect on ecstatic experiences. Among these are:

1) Routines of everyday life; practicality.
2) Thinking or reason.
3) Presence of other people; especially "everyday" people.
4) Commerce (money matters).
5) Distasteful experiences (ugliness, brutality, war).

She also lists several common "triggers"-- stimuli or circumstances that facilitate or allow ecstatic experiences:

1) Nature-- especially mountains and the sea. There were many references among Laski's Ss to "light" (especially moonlight, sunlight, reflections on water, etc.). Morning or night seemed more conducive to ecstatic experiences than was broad daylight.
2) Art, especially music. The only architectural references were to specific cathedrals, to ruins wlth historical connections, or to cities if seen as "ideal"cities (London, Venice, etc.)
3) Religion. [35]
4) Intimate conversation or contact.
5) Exercise or movement-- either regular, rhythmical movement (running, horseback riding) or swift movement (skiing, flying).
6) Knowledge-- especially scientific or poetic.
7) Creative work-- To Laski's Ss, "inspiration" and "ecstasy" were often inseparable.
8) Recollection of previous experiences.
9) Sexual love.
10) Childbirth (for women only).
11) Food-- especially sweet food.

Laski categorized the ecstatic experiences reported by her Ss and in the literature according to the following schema (experienced as progressively "better" by the Ss):

1) Adamic ecstasies-- "feelings that life ls joyful, purified, renewed" (1961, p. 92).
2) Knowledge ecstasies-- feellngs of knowledge being gained.
2a) Knowledge contact ecstasies-- if the knowledge is gained through a feellng of contact with some force outside oneself. Contact ecstasies often involve a loss of self.
3) Union ecstasies-- "At the stage regarded as the best, ecstasies may involve complete or almost complete loss of sensibility, coupled wlth a feeling (necessarily afterwards) that any contact made has been complete" (p, 92).

Laskl (1961) also mentioned, unfortunately only briefly, [36] some states of longer duration and involving less separation from normal reality. These she terms, "unitive states" and characterizes them as including "loss of feelings of self, of worldliness, of time, gain of feelings of new life, joy, knowledge" (1961, p. 65). She states, "An enhancement of well-being, both mental and physical, is usual in unitive states" (1961, p. 87). These states are occasioned by such activities as creative work, holidays, love, and childbirth, among others. In terms of classifying such experiences, Laski states,

People do not compare unitive states one with the other, so it is not possible to say whether any differences are, as with momentary ecstasies, regarded as corresponding with different degrees of value (p. 95).

Finally, Laski (1961) states what must be a focal point of the present study:

It is possible that both ecstasies and unitive states represent only unusually intense varieties of experience and states inseparable from being healthily alLve and human (p. 101).

Ricks and Wessman (in Southwell and Merbaum, 1971) pre- sent a case study of "Winn-- a happy man." Unfortunately, this small study is so bland it almost suggests "happiness" is a synonym for "dullness." The report is the result of a three-year study of Winn during his undergraduate years at Harvard. It utilizes the results of interview material and [37] test material (TAT, Rorschach, MMPI, Mood Adjective Check List).

Winn comes from a comfortable, warm, accepting, respected family and was "gifted in face, form, intellect, health, and talent" (1971, p. 244). He was unusually self-confident and optimistic compared to other men his age: "The major contrast in Winn's emotional life contrasted zestful, extremely happy days with somewhat less happy ones." Unfortunately we get very llttle insight as to the individual phenomenology of Winn's happiness other than the fact that it ususally included considerable consciousness of food. Besides this we have the informatlon that:

Energy, harmony and sociability with others, receptivity toward the world, and loving tenderness, together with feelings of approval by the community, were the main components of Winn's happiest moods (1971, p. 242).

If nothing else, this study reinforces the need for further study of the positive emotions and states of being if we are ever to overcome the simplistic, bland, generalized descrLptions usually given of such states.

Shelly (1969b) performed a factor analytic study (using the results of a questionnaire administered to 100 undergraduate psychology majors) of the "most pleasant situation" during both the day and the evening. (This author's use of the term "pleasant" covers a wide range of intensity: from mildly pleasant to happy, joyful, or even ecstatic.) [38]

He concludes:

It appears as though the evening ls a particularly important time in determining the individual's happiness. We might say that if the indlvidual cannot find satisfaction during his evenings when he is relatively free from constraints, then he might have a hard time finding satisfactions in other areas (p. 366).

A peak happy experience seems to depend upon friends and the ability to obtain excitement (p. 369).

Shelly and Adelburg (1969a) performed an empirical analysis of pleasant and unpleasant situations for a group of 75 urban youths. A comparison of the pleasant and unpleasant situations reveals the following:

Environment Behavior Feelings Pleasant Much to do Many friends Much activity, excitment Did a 1ot Talked a Lot Moved around a lot Wanted to stay a long time Was what he wanted to be Everyone likes him Unpleasant Little to do Few friends Little activity, excitement Went alone Felt badly on leaving

Of special interest is the fact that loneliness often preceded the most pleasant situation.

Shelly and Adelburg (1969a) justified their study by stating: [39]

A knowledge of what types of situations are plea- sant may help community leaders create more of this type of situation and thereby possibly improve the well-being of the members of the conmunity (p. 268).

Another study performed by the same researchers (Shelly and Adelburg, 1969b) presented an analysis of "satisfactLon sites" (places where people congregate to obtain pleasure or satisfaction or to relax) in Jamaica. Their main conclusion was that people find most rewarding (gauged by the amount of time spent in the absence of constraining factors) places at the extremes of arousal: either highly exciting or highly relaxing places.

A final empirical study of positive feeling states was undertaken by Bradburn and Caplovitz (1965). They analyzed the responses of 2000 men (between the ages of 25 and 49 living in four communities varying in degree of economic prosperity) to a questionnaire. Their main conclusions were:

Happiness is positively correlated wlth education level and income.
Happiness is negatively corrolated with age.
Happiness is uncorrelated with sex.
Unmarried men are less happy than married men.

They also found that:

positive and negative feelings are independent dimensions of such a nature that knowing a person's level of one type of feeling w111 not enable us to predict his level of the other (p. 24).[40]

(Positive and negative feelings were each found to correlate with happiness but were found to be uncorrelated with each other.) Bradburn and Captovitz state,

The independence of these two dlmensions suggests a radical departure from usual notions about psychological well-being because it means that it is quite possible for a person to report being, for example, "very depressed" and still describe himself as "very happy." Such a report would be perfectly logical if the experience of negatlve feelings were offset by the experience of several positive feelings (1965, p. 20).

In this view, happiness is the result of the relative strengths of positive and negative feelings, rather than of an absolute amount of either one.

A drawback to all of these studies (except Laski's and, in some ways, that of Ricks and Wessman), is the reduction of individual material to normative data for groups as a whole. Most of the richness and depth of the individual experiences is thereby lost.

Fortunately, in addition to the theoretical and empirical studies, there exist several personalized accounts of prolonged positive experiences. In these we may recover some of the depth lost in the more normative works.

Firsthand Accounts of Prolonged Positive Experiences

William James provides a lucid description of a prolonged and exceptionally positive state:[41]

From the instant I realized that these cancer spots of worry and anger were removable, they left me.With the discovery of their weakness they were exorcised. From that time life has had an entirely different aspect.

. . . As the usual occasions for worry and anger have presented themselves over and over again, and I have been unable to feel them in the slightest degree, I no longer dread or guard against them, and I am amazed at my increased energy and vigor of mind; at my strength to meet situations of all kinds, and at my disposition to love and appreciate everything.

. . . All at once the whole world has turned good to me. I have become, as it were, sensitive only to the rays of good.

. . . There is no doubt ln my mind that pure Christianity and pure Buddhism, and The Mental sciences and all religions, fundamentally teach what has been a discovery to me; but none of them have presented it in the light of a simple and easy process of elimination. . . . I feel such an increased desire to do something useful that it seems as if I were a boy again and the energy for play had returned . . . I notice the absence of timidity in the presence of any audience . . . . lightning and thunder have been encountered under conditions which would have formerly caused great depression and discomfort, without [my] experiencing a trace of either. Surprise is also greatly modified, and one is less liable to become startled by unexpected sights or noises.

. . . I note a marked improvement in the way my stomach does its duty in assimilating the food I give it to handle . . . . I [am not] wasting any of this precious time formulatlng an idea of a future existence or a future Heaven. The Heaven that I have within myself is as attractive as any that has been promised or that I can imagine; and I am willing to let the growth lead where it will . . . (James, 1961, pp. 154-156).

Kapleau in The Three Pillars of Zen provides an account written by a Canadian housewife of an experience which began six years after her first experience of "satori:"[42]

One spring day as I was working in the garden the air seemed to shiver in a strange way, as though the usual sequence of time had opened into a new dimension, and I became aware that something untoward was about to happen, if not that day, then soon. Hoping to prepare in some way for it, I doubled my regular sittings of zazen and studied Buddhist books late into each night.

A few evenings 1ater, after carefully sifting through the Tibetan Book of the Dead and then taking my bath, I sat in front of a painting of the Buddha and listened quietly by candlelight to the slow movement of Beethoven's A Minor Quartet, a deep expression of man's self-renunciation, and then went to bed. The next morning, just after breakfast, I suddenly felt as though I were being struck by a bolt of lightning, and I began to tremble. All at once the whole trauma of my difficult birth flashed into my mind. Like a key, this opened dark rooms of secret resentments and hidden fears, which flowed out of me like poisons. Tears gushed out and so weakened me I had to lie down. Yet a deep happiness was there . . . . Slowly my focus changed: "I'm dead! There's nothing to call me! There never was a me! It's an allegory, a mental image, a pattern upon which nothing was ever modeled." I grew dizzy with delight. Solid objects appeared as shadows, and everything my eyes fell upon was radiantly beautifu1.

These words can only hint at what was vividly revealed to me in the days that followed:

1) The world as apprehended by the senses is the least true (in the sense of complete), the least dynamic (in the sense of the eternal movement), and the least important in a vast "geometry of existence" of unspeakable profundity, whose rate of vibration, whose intensity and subtlety are beyond verbal description.

2) Words are cumbersome and promitive-- almost useless in trylng to suggest the true multi-dimensional workings of an indescribably vast complex of dynamic force, to contact which one must abandon one's normal level of consciousness.

3) The least act, such as eating or scratching an arm, is not at all simple. It is merely a visible moment in a network of causes and effects reaching [43] forward into Unknowingness and back into an infinity of silence, where individual consciousness cannot even enter. There is truly nothing to know; nothing that can be known.

4) The physical world ls an infinity of movement, of Time-Existence. But simultaneously it is an infinity of Silence and Voidness. Each object is thus transparent. Everything has its own special inner character, its own karma or "life in time," but at the same time there is no place were there is emptiness, where one object does not flow into another.

5) The least expression of weather variation, a soft raln or a gentle breeze, touches me as a-- what can I say?-- miracle of unmatched wonder, beauty, and goodness. There is nothing to do: just to be is a supremely total act.

6) Looking into faces, I see something of the long chain of their past existence, and sometimes something of the future. The past ones recede behind the outer face like ever-finer tissues, yet are at the same time impregnated in it.

7) When I am in solitude I can hear a "song" coming forth from everything. Each and every thing has its own song; even moods, thoughts, and feelings have their finer songs. Yet beneath this variety they intermingle in one inexressibly vast unity.

8) I feel a love which, without object, is best called lovingness. But my old emotional reactions still coarsely interfere with the expressions of thls supremely gentle and effortless lovingness.

9) I feel a consciousness which is neither myself nor not myself, which is protecting or leading me into directions helpful to my proper growth and maturity, and propelling me away from that which is against that growth. It ls like a stream into which I have flowed and, joyously, is carrying me beyond myself.

Another account contained in Kapleau's book was written by a Japanese executive, also the result of a satori experience:[44]

I am at peace at peace at peace . . . . This freedom is extraordinary.

Surely the world has changed [with enlightenment]. But in what way?

The ancients said the enlightened mind is comparable to a fish swimming. That's exactly how it is-- there's no stagnation. I feel no hindrance. Everything flows smoothly, freely. Everything goes naturally. This limitless freedom is beyond all expression. What a wonderful world!

I am grateful, so grateful.

Gissing (in Laski, 1961, p. 64) provides an example of an indigent young man forced by circumstances to spend a prolonged period (5 years) in London:

When my health had begun to suffer from excesses of toil, from bad air, bad food, and many miseries, then awoke the maddening desire for countryside and seabeach . . . . On an irresitible impulse, I suddenly made up my mind to go into Devon, a part of England I had never seen. At the end of March I escaped from my grim lodgings, and, before I had time to reflect on the details of my undertaklng, I found myself sitting in sunshine . . .

I had stepped into a new life. Between the man I had been and that which I now became there was a very noticeable difference . . . . I suddenly entered into conscious enjoyment of powers and sensibilities which had been developing unknown to me. To instance only one point: till then I cared very little about plants and flowers, but now I found myself interested in every blossom, in every growth of the wayside . . . . To me the flowers became symbolical of a great release, of a wonderful awakenlng . . . . so intense, was my delight in the beautiful world about me that I forgot even myself; I enjoyed without retrospect and forecast; I, the egoist in grain, forgot to scrutinize my own emotions, or to trouble my happiness with other's happier fortune. ft was a healthful time; it gave me a new lease of life, and taught me-- in so far as I was teachable-- how to make use of it.[45]

Laski terms this a "unitive state."

Another example is Benjamin Haydon's account of a period of inspiration (in Laski, 1961, pp. 87-88)-- also a unitive state in Laski's terms:

This week has really been a week of great delight. Never have I had such irresistible, perpetual, continual urgings of future greatness . . . . While I was painting or walking or thinking, these beaming flashes of energy followed and impressed me! . . . They came over me and shot across me, and shook me, and inspire me to such a degree of intensity, that I lifted up my heart and thanked God.

A quite remarkable first-hand account of his experiences has written by Carlos Castaneda (1968, !971, 1973), then a graduate student in anthropology at UCLA. Many of Castaneda's experiences bear similarity to some of the experiences reported in this study, and several of the informants used concepts derlved from reading his books to help them understand their own experiences.

Castaneda had gone to the South-West to gather information on medicinal and psychotropic plants used by the Indians there. In a bus depot he chanced to meet an old Indian-- Don Juan Matus-- one of the last living practitioners of the art of Yaqui sorcery. Castaneda began to meet with Don Juan to learn about the plants-- Don Juan had other ideas. He tricked Castaneda into becoming an apprentice by telling him a sorceress was after his (Don Juan's) life and asking him for help. The apprenticeship lasted over ten years.

Several of the concepts used by Don Juan are relevant to [46] the present study- Don Juan employed several psychotropic drugs (lncluding peyote and mescaline) to begln to "break down" Castaneda's normal way of viewing reality. Initially using the drugs, and later through voluntary shifts of consciousness, Castaneda was able to perceive "a separate reality"-- reality dense with what some might call "paranormal phenomena:" people able to transport themselves over vast distances without any mechanical means; reliving in vivid detail of 'past' occurrences in one's life; one sorcerer's ablllty to put his body into "physlcally impossible positions (defylng the laws of physics, gravity, etc.); sudden appearances of persons in the vlew of a landscape, defying all known laws of perceptlon, reality, etc; the disappearance and reappearance of large objects, like a car.

Don Juan continually stressed to Castaneda the importance of "stopplng the world"-- by which he meant Castaneda's usual perception of it and of "seeing" (Don Juan put an unusual inflection on this word when he said it). "Seeing" allowed one to apprehend other realities. Don Juan also used another concept-- "not doing"-- by which he meant to not act automatically as one is used to-- not only in physical actions but in. perceivlng. To "not do" a certain person, for example, is to reject the normal perceptual, description of that person as the only possible one. "Not doing" also applies to oneself. One time, Don Juan told Castaneda to apply the exact opposite description of himself in every situation for [47] several days, Castaneda found that this description fit himself just as well as his previous self-image. The value in all of these exercises was that Castaneda began to learn to control hls perception of reality, once he learned "reality" was not an absolute.

Don Juan also stated that to attain "knowledge" (which was one aim of Castaneda's apprenticeship) one had to be a "warrior." He told Castaneda:

Only as a warrlor can one survive the path of knowledge. Because the art of a warrior is to balance the terror of being a man with the wonder of being a man (Wallace, !973, p. 140).

One could choose to follow many paths in life but Castaneda was advised to choose "the path with heart"-- that path most suited to his true destiny. On that path one would ultimately have to confront the fact of his own death-- a confrontation which gives a sharpness and clarity to living not possible otherwise.[48]


The necessity for studies such as this seems to me to be almost self-evident. There is incredibly little information about the actual experiences of people in the very positive ranges of human experience. Barton goes so far as to say,

The phenomenon of a superstate of good mental health, well above and beyond the mere absence of disabling illness, has yet to be scientifically demonstrated. We know little of it beyond occasional subjective, euphoric impressions of the subject that he is 'bursting with good health', 'feeling grand', or that 'all is right with the world', meaning his world (in Jahoda, 1958, p. 113).

Because of the lack of such studies, our theories about human personality are bound to be biased in the negative direction. Allport (1955) states,

Some theories of becoming are based largely upon the behavior of sick and anxious people or upon the antics of captive and desperate rats. Fewer theories have derived from the study of healthy human beings, those who strive not so much to preserve life as to make it worth living (p. 18).

Recent empirical findings have also made obvious the need for research into positive states of being. Bradburn and Caplovitz (1965) argue,

In view of our finding that (there are) two independent dimensions (a positive and a negative [49] feeling factor), each of which is correlated with different aspects of a person's life, it is apparent that greater attention will have to be paid to those forces producing positive satisfactions before we can fully understand what determines a person's well-being (p. 49).

Finally, several daring theorists and investigators are suggesting that psychology as a science cannot ignore the issue of human values and, in fact, cannot remain a value-free science. It must te1l us something of practical value in attaining a better life. Maslow (1962) states:

So far as human value theory is concerned, no theory will be adequate that rests simply on the statistical description of the choices of unselected human beings. To average the choices of good and bad choosers, of healthy and sick people is useless. Only the choices and tastes and judgments of healthy human belngs will tell us much about what is good for the human species in the long run (p. 143).

Many theorists (Allport; 1955; Krutch, in Allport, 1955; Jahoda, 1958; Maslow, 1962; Bradburn and Caplovitz, 1955, among others) agree that the most prevalent methods available to psychologists-- those of sampling, of questionnaires, of the experimental manipulation in the laboratory of one or two variables, and the subsequent statistical analysis of variance or correlation between the variables-- are simply inadequate for the study of more complex human phenomena. Allport, for example, state,

our methods, however well suited to the study of sensory processes, animal research, and pathology, are not fully adequate; and interpretations [50] arising from the exclusive use of these methods is stultifying (1955, p. 1B).

Fortunately, there does exist a small tradition in psychology of qualitative, or unstructured, research methods. Such methods have been more often used in sociology and anthropology, but the need for them in the field of psychology is rapidly becoming apparent.

Lofland (1971) distinguished between the two basic types of research: qualitative research is more suited to describe the characteristics and variations of a particular social phenomenon; quantitative research is better suited to discover causes and effects of particular phenomena or variables. Dean, Eichhorn, and Dean (in McCall and Simmons, 1969) characterize qualitative research as: 1) being non-standardized in its methodology, and 2) relying on the use of the relationship between investigator and informant for the elicitatlon of information. They glve several instances where qualitative research is called for: where the relationships to be examined are not obvious or explicit; where the phenomenon is in the early or exploratory stages of research; or where detailed case-history material is desired. All, of these characteristics apply to prolonged positive states.

Dean et al. (in McCall and Simmons, 1969) note some of the advantages of qualitative research:

1) One can reformulate the problem at any stage in the investigation. [51]

2) The impressions of the fleld worker are generally more reliable for classifying people than are the rigid (often either/or) systems usually employed in questionnaires.

3) The field worker ls usually ln a better position to impute the motives of his informants (he has a rich store of verbal and non-verbal material to draw from).

4) "The field worker can select later informants in such a way as to throw light on emerging hypotheses."

5) Depth material is usually more accessible to the non-structured researcher than it is to the survey or laboratory researcher.

6) It is easier in qualitative research to take advantage of informants' particular skills or talents.

7) The qualitative researcher can more easily move back and forth between data gathering and analysis (or theory-building).

8) "Difficult to quantify variables are probably less distorted by unstructured observation and interviewing than by an abortive attempt to operationalize them for quantification by survey. There is no magic in numbers; lmproperly used they confuse rather than clarify" (pp. 22-23).

(These authors also note two disadvantages of qualitative methods; 1) the possibility of blas due to the more personal nature of the relationships established, and 2) the limitations of statistical treatment of the data due to the non-standardized method of collection.)[52]

Method of the Present Study

In view of such considerations, I decided to undertake a qualitative study of positive states of being, using a combination of unstructured and structured interview techniques with people who had experienced such states.

The first task was to somehow define what I meant by a prolonged positive state of being while making sure the definition was not so narrow as to exclude relevant experiences. The description I finally decided upon was the followlng:

a prolonged experience (of at least several days duration but possibly much longer) during which the person felt fully alive, fully healthy, functioning to the utmost of his/her capabilities, and with an absence, or minimum, of conflicts.

After writing down a description of my own experience (contained in the introduction), I attempted to define some of the most crucial characteristics or issues for myself. Some of these I "tested" in an informal way by talking to a few people I knew who seemed to have had similar experiences. I wrote a summary of these characteristics which I kept in mind as I talked to each prospective informant (I use this term in place of the traditional "subjects" because the people in the study were more real to me than the use of the term "subjects" would suggest). It read as follows:

1) subjective feelings of peace and calmness, excitement and happiness dominate. Feelings of all types are intense but not conflicted. Boredom is [53] absent.

2) Behavior is more spontaneous less restricted by social conventions, ideas of propriety, or internal fears or inhibitions, and seems to be almost effortlessly 'correct' (in the sense of being appropriate to the situation at hand). Relationships with others are more open, honest, and almost effortless. New relationships may develop very rapidly and intensely.

3) Thoughts are clearer than usual and not conflicted-- they f1ow effortlessly and easily.

4) The outstanding characteristic of this time is that some aspects of being which are normally separate and/or conflicted are, for at least part of the time, somehow unified. Some possible new unifications are:

a) Thoughts and feelings are united in close harmony.
b) Desires tend to coincide with values.
c) Behaviors that are good for oneself seem to be good for others also (obliteration of the difference between selfish and altruistic behaviors).
d) There is no split between the mind and the body.
e) The boundary between work and play is abolished.
f) The dichotomy between the self and the outside world is diminished or abolished.
g) Actions feel both free and determined at the same tlme; i.e. there is a very clear "inner voice"-- although one feels free to obey or to disobey the dictates of this volce, one always or nearly always obeys it wi1lingly. (It may be that some of these "unifications" are present during this perlod and others are not.

The next consideration was finding people who had experienced a "prolonged positlve state" according to my definitlon. I started by asking some of the people I know (especially the 'healthier ones') if they had had such an experience or if they knew of anyone who mlght have. In thls way, I quickly gathered a list of about [54] eight names. I began contacting these people by telephone-- introducing myself, telling them who referred them to me, and briefly describing the study. If they were still interested at this point (the overwhelming majority were), I asked them the following question:

Have you ever had a prolonged experience (for at least several days duration but possibly much longer) during which you felt fully alive, fully healthy, functioning to the utmost of your capabilities, and with an absence, or minimum, of conflicts?

In response to this question, some people drew a total blank. One person told me, "No experience like that comes to mind;" another stated categorlcally, "I've never felt that way;" another said bluntly, "Anyone who says they've had an experience like that is viewing the past through rose-colored glasses." One person said cryptically, "It doesn't sound familiar and I don't wish to discuss such personal things."

Some people were just not sure if they had ever had such an experience.

Almost half of the people who were referred by others and whom I was able to contact (I also asked each person I interviewed for a list of possible informants) replied affirmatively to the question. The question seemed to trigger in the minds of these people an immediate or almost immediate memory of a period (or periods) in their life.

I then asked the person to describe briefly the experience he or she was thinking of. In a few cases where more [55] than one experience came to mind, it took a few minutes for the person to decide which experience stood out most clearly in his or her mind. I wished to know the duration of this experience, some idea of what the person was doing, and how the person was feeling. In individual cases, I asked other specific questlons to get some assessment of whether the experience the person was talking about fit my criterion of a "prolonged positive experience."

Somewhat surprisingly, every person that replied with a definite affirmatlve to my question consented to be interviewed and, even more surprising, all of these experiences seemed relevant to the present study.

Over the course of approximately two months, I interviewed 11 people-- seven women and four men, ranging in age from around 20 to over 40. Occupations included: two teachers (one also a writer, the other also with experience as a psychotherapist); a lawyer; a gestalt therapist; a presently unemployed person who previously worked as a researcher; the manager of a clothing store; a secretary; an occupational therapist; a house-painter, a movement therapist, and an unemployed student. Due to the starting point for my contacts (the Psychology Department of the University of Massachusetts) the interview population is well represented in the "healing" professions. Four of the informants are presently working on or planning to work on advanced degrees in this or other universities. Two of these informants are married (another [56] was to be married two weeks after the interview), two are presently divorced, four are unmarried but living with someone (or about to live with someone in one case), three are unmarried and living alone.

The interview procedure turned out to be a fascinating and rewarding experience for myself and, in just about every case, for the other person as we11. The interviews were long but usually so enjoyable and exciting, time was forgotten. People who had originally said they could talk for only an hour or so ended up talking with me for five or six hours. Many of the positive subjective feelings talked about in the interviews returned with unusual force during the interview, itself. In most cases, an unusually high degree of trust and acceptance was present. Although this was true for both men and woman, in general, lt seemed more true for the women.

I started each interview by asking the person to describe the experience we had talked about over the phone in as much or as little detail as he or she wished. Several people were a little uneasy about having the session taped from the beginning because of ine difficulty they felt they would have in verbalizing their experiences. In some of the first interviews, I was more prone to give in to this request. In later interviews, I suggested that we try taping the session and if it became too anxiety-provoking I would turn the tape-recorder off. This latter procedure worked well in those few instances of nervousness. For the most part, people didn't [57] seem to mind the recording equipment, especially once we got into the actual interview.

After the spontaneous material "dried up" (which might be after twenty minutes in one case or after three hours in another), I asked the informant a list of questions. I was interested in the answers to these questLons, of course, but the list was also used to trigger off other memories of the experience which had been forgotten. In the middle of telling me about feelings during the experience, a person might suddenly remember some sensory phenomena not previously remembered. Thus, except for unusual cases of very long digressions (which were rare), I followed the person's response to these questions even if it was more relevant to another question. The interview then achieved somewhat of a synthesis between structured and non-structured techniques. The questions asked were as follows:

1) How long ago did thls experience occur?

2) How long dld it last?

3) Where did it occur?

4) What were you doing during this tlme?

5) What were your relationships llke during this period?

6) What were your feelings ltke?

7) What were your thoughts llke?

8) What was your behavior like? Was it different from usual?

9) Were your senses affected? If so, in what way?[58]

10) Was there any change in the sense of significance or meaning? Was there any change in the sense of reality?

11) Was your sense of time affected?

12) Were any af the following unifications of opposites experienced?:

a) Self/Other
b) Outer/Inner
c) Subjective/Objective
d) Feelings/Thoughts
e) Masculine/Femlnine
f) Desires/Values
g) Selfishness/Se1flessness
h) Actions Free/Determined
i) Consclous/Unconscious

13) What preceded the experience? What marked the actual onset of tbe experience?

14) How did the experience end? (assuming it was over at the time of the interview).

15) How was this experience integrated into your "normal" life? What were the lasting results?

16) Did you ever have any similar experiences?

17) Were there any religious or philosophical implications of this experience?

18) Did your outlook on life change?

19) Did the experience affect previous relationships?

The duration of the interviews ranged from a low of an hour and a half to over nine hours-- the average being almost five hours. The total lnterviewing time was just under fifty hours-- about thirty of which were taped. (Besides the necessity for making the person feel comfortable before taping in [59] a few of the early sessions, I also turned the recorder off if a long personal discussion between myself and the informant occurred which was essentially unrelated to hls or her experience. Also, in the last interview, the tape-recorder malfunctioned-- and I recorded only half an hour of a three hour interview. Fortunately, the malfunctlon was obvious and I took notes.)

The tape-recordings of the interviews were transcribed essentially verbatim except for long, abstract digressions, personal stories or asides obviously unrelated to the experience belng discussed, or long monologues that I occasionally engaged in. (These tended to become more moderate as the study progressed.) This procedure yielded almost 400 pages of transcripts.

I then perfomed a type of rudimentary analysis on this material in order to be able to view it a different way. Using each of the questions presented to the informants as a base, I listed each statement, phrase, paragraph or longer sequence of each informant under each category to which the material seemed applicable. Whlle engaged in this process I became aware of other possible "categorizations" that would help me see some patterns in these experiences: among these were such things as mention of an "inner voice" (or "intuition," "instinct," "inner sense," etc.), some physical gestures that were common in describing quite a few experiences, references to weather, the need for a teacher or spiritual [60] guide, the importance of some dreams, the idea of personal "power" experienced in these states, and, especially the occurrence of some paranormal phenomena (ESP, premonitions, etc.). In each of these categories, statements made by any informant relevant to that category were also grouped together.

In the next section, we will examined the results of all thls interviewing, transcribing, analysis, and thinking.


[61] Let me state at the beginning that I don't believe I can "explain" these experiences or even attempt to understand them fully.

Jung said of the development of personality in which these experiences play a part: "There is always something irrational to be added, something that simply cannot be explained." (1954, p. 182).

Besides the reduction to logical processes which the world "explanatlon" usually connotes, there is usually an as- sumption of another reduction when this word is used-- the assumptlon of a general law or applicability of the findings true for all members of some given population. The individuality of these experiences does not allow such an assumption.

Franz (in Jung, 1964) stated:

Each of us has a unique task of self-realization . . . . It is difficult to summarize the infinite variations of the process of individuation. The fact is that each person has to do something different, something that is uniquely his own (p. 169).

William James, writing of religious experiences, put it:

Our explanations get so vague and general that one realizes all the more the intense individuality of the whole phenonenon (1967, p. 175). [62] In spite of these cautions, some common elements have, of course, emerged.

I will treat the material gathered in the interviews in two ways: first, as intensely individual accounts of very personal experiences (in this chapter, I will provide case studies of each of the 77 experiences), and second, as experiences which may be compared and contrasted in various dimensions (in the next chapter, I will discuss findings gathered fron all the interviews under such headings as "thoughts," "feelings," "senses," etc.). In these two chapters, my major purpose will be to try to describe these experiences in as much richness as possible.

In the case histories which follow, I have attempted to summarize and make more concise much of the material which the person being interviewed felt was important. I have also tried to include material which would answer most of the questions raised in the interview.

The first of the 11 case-histories includes a minimum of "narration" and is, in fact, largely conposed of edited and rearranged transcript material. Obviously, this method of presentation is somewhat longer than a more concise "narrated" version but I felt it was important to provide one example in all its richness and this particular informant is especially fluent and precise. The next 10 case-histories are written more concisely and use a great deal less quotation material. In all of these accounts, I have attenpted to keep my [63] interpretations and value judgments to a minimum (these I will save for the following chapters).

Abbreviations used include the following:
( ) = paraphrase of informants' own words
[ ] = "narration" of events, exploration, etc. by the author
[Names, locations, occupations and some dates have been altered to protect the identity of the informants. No other details have been changed.]

Angela Rimbaud

[64] Angela Rimbaud is 43 years old, married, and a devout Catholic. She teaches French at a local University.

During the course of some 9 hours of interviews, Angela related four distinct positive experiences. The first of these was a "peak experience" lasting 15 to 20 minutes which occurred when she was 17 and was driving wlth her boyfriend on a road south of San Francisco. As they came over a hill, the sight of a beautiful valley triggered a deep feeling of calmness and peace which had been unknown to her previously.

The second experience occurred when she was 21. She spent three days in New York City with a man with whom she felt very much ln love but who was married. She knew the three days would be all that they would have together since he was returning to California and his wlfe. She experienced during that time a feellng of extremely intense happiness to an extent previously unknown to her.

The third experience occured five years ago and involved a love relationship with R., a celibate Jesuit monk. Angela was married at the time. R. stayed wlth Angela and her husband for over a week. There was never any type of physlcal contact between R. and Angela.

One thing he said was that there was a deeper contact than the touch of hands and he was looking into my eyes when he said that. I've never been touched physically by anyone so deeply. And then he sald there's a deeper contact than the contact of eyes. [65] Around this time she converted to the Catholic faith.

The fourth experience was the one we actually focused on. This was the most recent and the most all-inclusive. The experience began in July, 1973, at a monastery ln Maine, to which Angela goes for a retreat for four days every two months. She had made a request during prayer: 'Let me be able to feel love for people I am unable to feel love for now.'

(What happened) was so dramatic and it was clearly in answer to (my) specific request.

She "fell in love" wlth a woman whom she couldn't have imagined she could even like-- much less love-- because of very great differences in their personalities. Angela is introspective, quiet, a very "private" person. Her new friend (K.) was loud, boisterous, exuberant, a "life of the party" type. And yet in a brief period of time a very deep bond of affection developed. Although they don't see each other very often now, their friendship is still very close.

When I asked her: about the duration of this experience, Angela surprised me by responding,

I think it's sti1l going on. Obviousy there are lots of variations and ups and downs and changes. What is going on has transcended my relationship with K.

She characterized the total 10-month experience by saying, [66]

It kind of surprises me-- the kind of organic growth that is taking place during this process. What expectations I had-- they were few-- haven't materialized.

Each time Angela went to the monastery on retreat (six times since last July), something was 'given' to her which she felt compelled to work on during the months before the next retreat. Sometimes what was given to her was a conflict to be resolved, a question to be answered, or a feeling to understand. She is unable to find a pattern in this process.

Every time I try to find a pattern it gets broken. I have to not program it.

The experience at the monastery is often quite intense.

The monastery is a place set apart . . . . There's a tremendous amount of power there. I can stop responding in computer ways and be open in a way that's hard for me when I'm expected to be active and to do things . . . . It's easier to be in the flow when I'm concentrated and passive-- as opposed to doing things that take a lot of superficial activity. (Outside the monastery) I feel (the flow) most of all when I'm (doing yoga). Then I'm closer to that other reality. (In Sunday school class I teach composed of ten 11-year-olds, it's more difficult.) I think I'm trying too hard to keep ahead of the situation. It's too active . . . . It's hard for me to 'be' for more than one or two people. I'm very drawn out to the periphery by the presence of other people. I can do it when I get away from other people and be by myself. But then when there are people who distract me, the vibrations are hard to deal with . . . . It's complicated getting un-programmed.

Leaving (the monastery) is always a shock . . . because I always expect that it will (carry over, but it doesn't). I really (feel) tne shock or the different worlds [Monastery and 'everyday']. It doesn't [67] seem to me that they ought to be so different. Usually the initial plunge brings me down to ordinary reality. (Since July) it's all been one experience, but within that experience it often drops down to ordinary reality.

Outlook on life: One of the most striking changes brought about by Angela's experience is a change in her way of looking at her life.

A major difference is an ability to trust what's happening rather than feeling that I have to be in control of what's happening.

She is more able than before to hear the inner voice of her 'true self' which she calls "Christ."

"It's the same thlng. Christ is the true self."

Another change is towards an effortlessness and non-conflictedness of action which Angela characterizes as "not doing."

All I have to do is not to do anything. Let it grow the way it wants to grow, not lay my expectations or desires on things. The thing that grows is always infinitely nlcer than what I could imagine. It's not just a static remaining in what happens on the retreat. If I'm hanging on to yesterday's situation I won't be open to today's situation. The struggle is always not to hang on to yesterday's good thing in order that today's good thing, which is unknown to me, which I can't predict, can come. It's so much more than anything I could imagine.

Not doing is very active. That's a lot of what I've been working on. Not doing something that's socially acceptable but that I'm not into. Not doing something that doesn't come from the center.

[68] I thlnk it's much more important for me to be true than it is for me to be polite. In terms of values, the truth is way on top.

The point of the whole experience is for Christ to live in me even though that's very very hard for me to do. At the end of this (process) . . . somehow, somewhere . . . is the goal of the mystlcs-- a kind of Union with God which I haven't any real idea of.

Changes in the senses and in the sense of significance or meaning:

Things have become much, much more significant. The physical reality of things, the physical reality of words, the physical reality of gestures-- (all are) much deeper. I don't know how I could describe that. (At the monastery) I eat very simple things and I enjoy it but I don't glutonize the way I do when I really get into eating. Perhaps (I'm a little more conscious of the taste), but not a great deal. I think I'm more conscious of appreciation. Appreciating it and using it in a kind of ascetic way.

There is a difference between the'heightening of sensation' (of this state) and normal non-perception, normal non-attentiveness. Maybe it's just a heightened attentiveness that makes it possible for me to be open more. Time is very slowed down. I don't think I'm open to the kinds of things that one would be open to on a drug trip-- for instance, colors and Nature and that kind of thing. I don't think it's that I'm indifferent to the natural surroundings, but they don't demand my attention a great deal. What does demand my attention is the church-- the physlcal building, the interior, the crucifix, the altar, the vessels, and the priests and their 'dancing', which is very beautiful. When they move around the altar to incense the altar it's a very beautiful dance. The stained glass windows are a very deep blue. I don't think these things are heightened and brightened the way I think you mean but they have an immense sigificance.

[Words]: To be really open is to let words come in- to one so deeply that the word becomes creative inside. Thinking gets in the way. The power of the [69] word (takes) possession of me. It changes things from being simply things that exist on a superficial level of reality to things that have-- oh, wow, the vocabulary just breaks down-- . . . power.

(On Good Friday, the cross over the altar was supposed to be taken down after the mass. I watched two monks take the cross down while they stood upon the altar-- an almost unthinkable action to me). Their actions were perfectly ordinary and at the sametime "perfectly out of this wor1d." The ordinariness was part of the significance as much as the extraordinariness-- perhaps even more so. But they both had to be present, both the ordinariness and the extraordinariness.

(In the back of the chapel another crucifix was hung. The cross was made of very rough wood and there was a horrible, tortured figure of Christ.) Here it was, just a thing. It wasn't doing anything. It was just being there. And it was communicating so much to me that there's no way of saying what it was communicating. There was no sense of heightened (vlsual) awareness. The meaning was the most significant thlng, even though it wasn't thought. It was just a sense of 'Wow!' The thing is deep, it is not just a thing that is four inches deep and occupies a certain amount of space . . . . (It has) a kind of visceral meaning. It's experienced with the whole body, not just the mind. It's not experienced as an ordinary object among other ordinary objects.It's experienced as something that speaks.

There's also a sense of 'presence' in the church. (It's) very warm, very peaceful. [She gestured with a wlde sweep of both arms to indicate the power and intensity of this feeling.]


I feel dlfferent. I feel-- Wow!-- It's like being in love . . . only when you're in love with a person your being in love is so fixated on that one person. With this, the sense of being in love comes from everywhere. Like I'm being supported. Like floating on a warm ocean. It permeates everything.

[70] The highs are higher. (The lows) have a different quality entirely. A sense of everything being profoundly all right-- incredibly, deeply all right. All I have to do is accept what's given. (I have) a lot more energy; I need much less sleep (only about six hours a night at the monastery).

Angela still experiences some difficulty with the expression of feelings, especially intensely positive or negative, feelings in a social context.

If I'm reading my situation right, I've got to shut them down, keep them low key. They're not socially acceptable. Any real feeling is not socially acceptable . . . . When it comes to the actual situation, I (often) act out of these polite ingrained responses.


(My thoughts are quieter.) And when I'm really thinking I can really think. There's a very marked difference between when I have something to think about and when I don't. When I don't, I shut up!


In terms of actual behavior, Angela feels that there have not been many marked changes as yet. However, she does relate one incident which illustrates a change in behavior for her:

In one group I'm in I feel sort of like a burr under its saddle. Their approach to things is pretty different from mine. Ordinarily I would be very reluctant to express too directly my differences. One day I felt pretty good . . . . I said, 'You're really into this thing and that's okay but I'm not'. [71]

Relationships with others:

There's (been) a slow evolution of my attitude toward people who are not that important to me. The people who are important to me-- these relationships are growing, but it seems to be more natural and orderly that they should. That doesn't seem so unusual. (The more unusual thing) is that my attitude towards people that aren't so important is becoming less critical, much more accepting, much less judgmental. When I love someone, I don't care what they do. It's not that I never judge people, it's (just that) the gravitational force (to do so) is not as strong as it used to be. I'm less inclined to get angry with people. It's a gradual thing. I'm far from being free from irritations and minor distresses, but they're less troublesome. I can be more detached about them.

I was thlnking about Perl's concept of frustration and support and what a hard time I have frustrating anyone. I've never felt myself able to be cleanly angry with anyone. The inability to express where I am is growing less. I can see the possibility of freedom of expression, including anger.

The (expectations) of people still intimidate me.

(My relationship with my husband) has been made better. This experience has made me begin to be able to let him be (as a separate person). (Sometimes we're apart) but then we come together again on a much better level. (A quote that comes to mind) is 'Let there be spaces in your demands.' It makes apartness possible. We can grow and let each other grow. Sometimes I find it a little threatening because of what T think its consequences might be.

Unification of opposites:

Self/Other: The last couple of months I've been doing a great deal of listening to people. I'm more able than I ever have been to (simply) listen. There's less of that little inner voice that stands back and makes comments and categorizes and evaluates. I'm being much more open. [72]

Feelings/Thoughts: (I think of this dichotomy) in terms of 'stories' as opposed to 'intellectual concepts'. A story is the flesh and bones of an abstraction. To have nothing but abstractions, to have abstractions with their stories detached is like having ghosts. Up until about five years ago when this whole business started (with my conversion), I was pretty much living in my head. That had been my commitment. My intellectual commitment was to ideas. They were disembodied ideas; they were somebody else's ideas . . . I tried very hard (as a teacher) not to 1et my feelings intrude into what I was teaching. Something that I've noticed recently and with a tremendous amount of joy is that I'm beginning to tell stories again. I'm living much more in stories than in analytical constructs. (My analytical thinking) has a lot more life in it now than ever before because (of the) stories.

Masculine/Feminine: That's been a big split. When I was little I thought it was much better to be a boy than to be a girl . . . . I was a tom-boy. To choose to be a woman is to choose to suffer . . . . I had been forced to accept suffering because I was a woman but I had never clearly chosen it. A lot of aspects of femininity I had shut down for various complicated reasons. (Since this experience) there has been an inner change-- an acceptance of femininity which I never deeply felt before. I don't even know that I feel it yet but the reason that I feel it's happening is because of a dream, which was so symbolic of the marriage between the feminine woman and the masculine lover; between the earthy, warm, generous, exuberant woman-- most of these things I've repressed in me-- and those masculine qualities in me-- strength, integrity, (self-confidence, assertiveness). The man is so strong he rubs a lot of people the wrong way . . . . There were actually two dreams: In the first there was a (marriage) ceremony, in the second they were lovers. [Weagreed about the possibility of a third dream-- the 'logical extension' of this sequence-- where the man and the woman were united in one body.]

Desires/Values: In general, (desires and values) are going in the same direction. You can't do a good thing if your inner being is not (in the same place) as your actions. [73]

Actions free/Determined: (The merglng takes place when I am alone or in a good relationship.) (It) really gets cramped when I get in the social situation. (There is a split between what I would do if I felt free and what I feel compelled to do out of social expectations, politeness, etc.)

Some Specific Experiences:

In, order to more fully convey the flavor of Angela's experience I will provide the reader wlth two somewhat longer descriptions-- the first concerning a period of several days in the monastery, the second involving an incident which took place outside the monastery.

In the monastery:

How can I describe what happened (During Holy Week)? It was just very, very heavy. Time just passed in a very, very slow way and I seemed to be getting deeper and deeper into (a very heavy feeling). The heavy (feelings) are a process of getting in touch with things I'm not normally in touch with, which I have to get in touch with (in order to grow) further. (If I don't get in touch with these heavy feelings), they block (my progress).

What I was into was Judas. It occurred to me that no one ever prayed for Judas. It seemed to me that people ought to. To condemn Judas is to condemn ourselves . . . . I think everybody is a betrayer . . . . Judas was more committed to his conception of what Christ was than being open to what Christ really was. He believed. Jesus was the Messiah-- for some reason wich he couldn't understand, Jesus wasn't dolng what he was supposed to [in Judas' conception, to provoke a politlcal revolution].

The betrayal that that signifies to me (is that people in general) find it extraordinarily difficult to be open to what is, to what is reality. I have all sorts of ideas what reality is or ought to be, what God !s or ought to be, what you are or ought to be. To see you as you really are and not as some fantasy I lay on you and to be faithful to [74] that when it's in conflict what I thlnk you ought to be is very, very, hard to do. That's what the message meant to me.

(I had) a tremendous feeling of desolation after Good Friday. I kept looking for a breakthough. (With the Easter Mass, although I had expected one) if I'm going to be in this thing for another year, it's all right, it's all right.

All through the afternoon there was a steadily growing sense that Christ had risen. Now it wasn't anything very dramatic or appearing in any earth-shaking way. (This was) a subjective certainty. My telling you Christ is risen is the same way I would tell you the cat is sitting on my lap [it was at the time]. It's a statement of fact . . . . The evidence is just the subjective awareness. (I felt like I was in love; I felt supported; love and warmth permeated everything). The area in which I was sitting (and the rest of the monastery) was the whole world and within that world was nothing but love and peace.

Outside the monastery:

I was distressed about coming down after leaving the monastery. (I felt) I'm not handling something correctly-- What am I supposed to do with these two different worlds? (Tuesday night) I went to the yoga class. At the end of the class I was talking to one of the students. He's a guy who's very hungry for physical contact and he wanted me to hold him. I held him for awhile and as I did I had the sense . . . that I was able to be transparent al- most and let love flow through me to him.It was not that I loved him. But I was able to be a vehicle of love for him. The impersonality of it was beautiful. There was no attachment. I was not hung up with this at all. And I realized that this thing that happens at the monastery doesn't go (when I leave the monastery).

Period Preceeding the Experience:

In tracing the roots of her experience, Angela stated that the previous Novenber [November, 1972] she and her husband had a woman living with them. This woman got very [75] intensely into religion. Angela and the woman had considerable difficulty in talking. One day they had a long ta1k.

She came on very strong. And she sald, 'Chrlst wants all of us'. And I knew that there were some aspects of my life that I was afraid of losing. The thing that I was afrald of (and I see this as somewhat neurotlc) was that I would lose my husband. (I made a commitment to Christ) saying 'Do with me what you will', but I was afrald I would retract the commitment (because of what it might require of me). I worked on accepting the commitment as much as I could.

(Several months later, while in church, I felt a very strong impulse to cut my hair). I was not really clear why I wanted to have it cut or what it symbolized. I knew it symbolized something. I knew that this was something that I had to go out and do right away. The impulse just got me by the elbow and took me to the hair-dresser's (before any opposing impulses could stop me).

(During the next few months I experienced several instances of being overwhelmed by very strong impulses during mass.)

(That Easter [1973] a certainty came to me.) That Chrlst's resurrection from the dead made some absolutely radical change in the nature of the universe and things would never be the same. This was the difference between an intellectual belief that he rose from the dead and the realization that it meant something. (It had) cosmic implications and implications that went backwards and forwards in time and into the very heart of the nature of reality.

From Easter to July was just pretty much a time of waiting. The thing that happened in July was for the first time really being able to pray-- really having a dialogue. (In July the experience I have been talking about actually began-- with my specific request in prayer that I might be able to love the types of people I felt difficulty in loving, and the answering of that request in a very dramatic way-- through the intense feelings of love I felt for K.)

Peter O'Donnell

[76] Chemical engineer; mid 30's.

Peter O'Donnell started his descrlption by saylng:

It was really the only experience I've had that came close to what you (described). (This is) easily the most positive experience I've ever had . . . . This was especially significant because it stretched (over) 2 1/2 months.

Preceeding this experience, Peter had been at a university in South Africa studying engineering for five years. The last year was especially intense. The last 13 weeks he spent 11 hours a day reading for hls final exams. Hardly ever leaving his room, he consumed 60 cigarettes a day. At the end he was just "physlcally and mentally exhausted."

Before looklng for a permanent job, Peter decided to meet a friend from his hlgh school days at a town called Tobernie, 2OO miles north from where he had been studying. There they would uork together on a short-term construction job-- helping to build an oil refinery.

When he arrived at Tobernie, he met Brighton and two friends who were living with him.

I immediately liked them. I could tell I was going to get on with them.

At the time Peter was a bit anxious about a decision he was trying to make; what type of engineering field to enter.

But after about a week, living and worklng and [77] socializing with these guys, all that anxiety left-- all the sense of impending hassle that I had when I arrived had gone completely. I didn't think or . . . even care about the (decision).

Life at Tobernie lmmediately settled into a regular routine: all four men lived together, worked together, went to the pub after work together-- in fact, they only times they weren't together were when they were "sleeping or fucking." A very strong bond rapidly developed between the four of them.

I may never have had such a good friendship before-- with all of them. I dldn't lLke being wlth anyone of them more than any (other). It was certainly the heaviest friendship . . . I mean I really liked being with these guys.

When I asked Peter if there seemed to be any change in the usual self/other boundary, he replied:

With me and the other three that certainly happened. I can remember when someone talked I didn't worry about the identity of the person as long as it was someone in the four and I could reply thlnking, well, that's one of the group talking.

The group experience was remarkable for the fact that although the four men were together almost constantly for ten weeks, there was no visible evidence of boredom (even though their work, "viewed objectively" was tedious and boring) and there were never any arguments.

There was never a sense of wanting to put anyone down after living together so long. In all my previous experiences, sooner or later someone was sick of the other's company.

[78] If anyone had criticized (someone in the group), we wouldn't have believed it-- just dismissed it or laughed . . . that's the way you react to criticism of yourself that you don't accept. I felt I knew these other guys so well (I wouldn't even have had to reply).

Within the confines of the group experience, things that normally would have bothered Peter had either no impact or were felt to be humorous. What might have normally been taken for "criticism" was seen to be a harmless "observation."

I used to pride myself on having the best jeans-- the most faded and the best. Hamilton told me the jeans I wore were the 'worst fucking jeans' he'd ever seen before. That beforehand would have really hurt me. I just shrieked with laughter . . . . I thought it was the funniest thing I ever heard.

Shortly after Peter's arrival at Tobernie, a fifth man came to live with the group. In spite of the fact that he did the same things all the rest did, Peter felt he was never part of the group experience.

Whenever I thlnk of Tobernie I can see the four of us and him sort of lurking on the fringes . . . . There was never any feeling of a conscious rejection . . . . No one was even rude to him . . . . You'd be talking and laughing at the pub and then he'd say something and you'd suddenly be aware that there were five people there . . . I can't even remember when he left.

This "fifth" person was the only one of the five to be actively corresponding with anyone at the tlme of the experience.

One of the major points stressed repeatedly by Peter was [79] how good he felt durlng this entire period.

It was a fantastic feeling . . . . I didn't think more than a day ahead. It was such a good feeling and such a high that I didn't want to think what was going to happen. It was the most elated feeling . . . absolutely no anxiety. I enjoyed everything so much . . . everything that happened-- eating, drinking, screwing, singing, laughing were just so fantastic and they all came together and that never happened before or since . . . . I can't stress that enough . . . a total sense of well-being. Everything was just great.

When talking about his feelings during this experience, Peter frequently linked them to the fact that he did not have to do any "logical thought" or planning-- that he could just "be" in the present- This he said was "ideal therapy" after his former exhausted condition.

Peter fe1t he "lived a far truer way than what (he) did before or since." This behavior was more natural, spontaneous, and uncontrived. Some things he did then he "never would have done before and never would do now."

For example, we'd get out of work and we'd start walking home-- 14 miles--there was no way of getting (a ride). Apart fron the fact that we were pnysically tired when we came to the end, no one complained.

Looking back at some of his behavior in bars, Peter feels if he saw someone doing the same things he did-- getttng drunk, laughing, singing, picking up women-- he would probably consider it "exhibitionistic." But he didn't feel any of that then. There was an essential unity of thought, feeling, [80] and action.

Everything I thought, everything I wanted, everything I said, and everything I did were identical.

One aspect of his behavior during this experience that was different from usual for Peter was sexual activity.

I don't think I've ever had such a good screwing time-- having so much success with girls, I don't know whether it was (because) I was so much more natural and didn't worry. I had phenomenal success with girls which I hadn't enjoyed in the past or since.

Peter and his friends picked up women in bars, restaurants or anywhere else. One of the women he was seeing at this time was a nurse. This relationship differed from other male-female relationships Peter had had.

I've never had a relationship like the one with the nurse before. (I've always had) heavier relationships. It was almost as if I wanted someone who was as carefree and natural as what the group had been and that's exactly what she was . . . . We never had any heavy discussions or any deep talk at all. It was all very frivolous and all lots of fun and we enjoyed screwing. We never even thought of it as a lasting relationship. I didn't feel bad about leaving. I'm pretty sure she felt the same way.

Peter stressed the fact that the way he talked with the others was very different from the way he normally talks.

Part of the system I had gone through I was always forming sentences before talking ta people. I would think out my sentences and give them. . . as much precision as I could . . . . At Tobernie, there was nothing contrived in anything anyone said.

[81] Everything I think I thought about was expressed because they were simple, sort of beautiful things-- jokes, laughter-- basic things-- friendship. There was never any sort of deep philosophical discussions. We just talked about what we were going to do.

He never worried about saying something and hurting anyone's feelings and yet he is qulte confident that he rarely, if ever, did hurt anyone else.

Not only was talk at a very basic, slmple 1eve1-- so also, according to Peter, was his thought. He rarely thought about anything intellectual, abstract, or philosophical. He was surprised that he was not bored in 10 weeks of this.

After workLng for several weeks at Tobernie, there was a short break for the Christmas holiday.

I went with one of the other guys to a tourist resort but the sense of comraderie wasn't there at all . . . . In a sense, I suppose the high was interrupted. I never felt down when I was on vacation but . . . I was looking forward to going back. Then we came back and it was all just as it had been before.

While at a party, Peter chanced to hear a record that a girl he had been seeing while at the universlty used to sing.

It was just like a trigger. As soon as I heard this record. . . I said to Brighton I'm going to go off and marry Pat . . . . It seemed as though I decided almost simultaneously with telling Brighton. Everyone at the party knew within a matter of two minutes . . . . Those sort of things I seldom express . . . . It was just so unlike me.

He borrowed a car and drove the 500 mlles to Pat's house [82] where he told her and her parents he wanted to marry her. This time, although away from the others in the group, the high was not interupted. While driving to Pat's (and also on the way back) I Peter stayed along the coast and swam in the ocean. His actions felt "very natural." When he got sleepy, he'd just drive off the road and he'd be asleep "within a minute." Whenever he was hungry {no matter what time it was), he would eat. At one point, one of the tires received a puncture-- this didn't bother hlm at all. He simply got out and changed the tire. (He had been driving on "bald" tires-- another example of something he did then he says he'd never do now.) Although hls trip to arrange the marriage was one of the few times during the experience there was any appreciable concern with the future, once Peter returned to Tobernie he "pigeon-holed" the thought of marriage "for future reference" and didn't think about it any more.

Near the end of his stay at Tobernie, Peter and Brighton simply walked off the job to sunbath and swim in a river. They both got fired but they didn't care at all. In fact, when informed of the fact by a fellow-worker, they both "shrieked with laughter." This sort of action was something that was "completely foreign" to Peter's previous (and later) experience.

Finally, it all ended. Two of the group were going back to college. They all just said good-bye. No plans were made for the future. Peter has never seen those two since.

[83] I don't know if that's something we sub-consciously accepted as something that would never occur again and we didn't want to destroy what had been.

Peter went with his friend Brighton to stay for awhile at his brother's house. Here there were the pressure of other people and other people's feelings to consider.

Conversations reverted to being contrived . . . . As soon as it was apparent that there were other people's feelings to consider before you spoke I realized our Tobernie life-style was drastically changed.

At the end of the experience, looking back on it, Peter had the impression that it went incredibly rapidly. This contrasted with the feeling that, during the experience, "time meant nothing." Living in the present made Peter almost totally unconscious of the passage of time.

Peter views his experience as a "gap taken right out of (his) life." By this, he means he was very different during the experience than he was before or after. Surprisingly, Peter feels there were no lasting results of his experience.

I don't think I learned from the experience . . . . Things are exactly the way they were before my Tobernie experience.

Peter felt there were no changes in values or change in his outlook on life as a result of this experience. He is convinced the whole thing was "absolutely coincidental." He also said that if someone could demonstrate to him that it wasn't [84] coincidental, it would then perhaps have an effect on his life.

Peter, in short, attributes the "lack of responsibility" he was feeling at the time as important in determining the experience. Since being married and having children, plus having a job which he feels he has to "worry about" because of the nature of the job, Peter feels "absolutely pessimistic" about such an experience ever happening again. He feels there have been "ample opportunities" for such an experience to occur again in the four years since his Tobernie experience but there has never been a reoccurence or anything even closely approaching it.

Craig Postman

[85] Dairy farmer and landscape painter; 35 years old.

Craig Postman described an experience which happened while he was in a town called Oswald on the Oregon coast-- he calls this a "magic place" because many other people have been known to have very positive or high experiences there. At the time he was living in a hotel about a mile from a growth center where he was in his second month of an intensive Gestalt therapy workshop. He was also meditating quite often and smoking hashish every afternoon. It was after a light winter and the sun was just returnlng to Oswald. "The whole place was coming alive again."

One afternoon after having smoked some hashish, Craig was meditating. He found himself in an "internal dialogue with a teacher." Thls personification of one part of his mind, he said,

orchestrated all of the volces that would come through my mind but would not speak. He himself was the conductor of these voices.

He found himself asking his "teacher" varlous questions and the "answers" would be presented in his environment.

When I got into this phase, everything started happening in perfect synchronicity. I would sort of ask a question laughingly and something would happen in my environment which would immediately answer it.

He laughingly sa1d to himself, "By a lot af people's [86] standards, I'm sure you're quite mad right now."

Craig recognized that his internal "teacher" was someone who had appeared in a dream. In the dream, the figure was re- presented as an old man-- wise and "a very heavy character." He acted as a sort of guide for Craig and led him along a road through a woods.

He never says anything . . . and way in the distance-- there's a great jumbled noisy crowd of people falling over each other and jostling each other.

In the end of the dream, Craig found himself alone at the end of the road in Oregon. Now several years after the dream, he found hlmself actually in Oregon and his "guide" had returned.

Craig does not consider this a "drug experience"-- in fact, he's not even sure if he did smoke that day. In any case, if he was stoned, he says "It didn't alter the experience a great deal." This seemed to mark the onset of a more prolonged experience, lasting about a week.

Craig concentrated very heavily on his thinking processes when he was describing this experience.

I was very conscious and clear about what I was doing. If I was running voices in my mind, I was running them. I was aware of them. If I fell silent, I was very quiet.

Sometimes, while meditating he would "experience a growth of confusion," his mind would be a little "jumbled and rocky" and he might even get a bit paranoid. Then there would be a type of "break-through," after which he felt very clear-headed [87] ed. His visual perceptions also seemed unusually clear after such an experience.

. . . Visually, the world was very different. There was a quality of sparkling clear energy and things being c1ose. My eyes were real telescopes. Very much out in my environment instead of being back in any sort of tunnel vision.

During this period he found he was thinking much more in terms of images than in words. Often he would get a "flash" or mental image of something that was not perceived in external reality. He then started checking out the validity of these "intuitive flashes."

One day, Craig saw a friend standing about 50 yards away. Suddenly, he got an image of his friend in a bar kicking a table and throwing a pitcher of beer. When he shared the image with his friend, his friend sald he felt very angry but he hadn't realized it until he had heard Craig's fantasy. Later that day in a group, two people walked into the room and Craig "had a flash of them fucking."

I just said, oh, I'm jealous. What is this? But sometime later in the course of that session . . . I found out that they had just balled for the first time-- they were just returning from that.

Another day (the day he usually called his mother) he had a fantasy of his mother receiving some money.

I called home and she had just gotten a check from her boss's estate for $3000.00.

[88] Cralg couldn't recall an incident in which one of his fantasies actually preceeded the physical event although in the above example his fantasy was preceeded by his knowledge of the event. He states slmply, "I was in the most intuitive state I've ever been in my life." He feels this state lasted perhaps five days or slightly longer.

Craig's thinking, besides being more visual, also had "a dramaturgical quality." If there were words, these were likely to be said or acted out by different characters-- "a little play" in his mind.

I would not think about ideas. If some idea was on my mind-- it was likely to be personified by these people running off.

About hls feelings around this time, Cralg states:

I felt joyous basically. Very joyous and not particularly lost in any wrenching melodrama spaces. I felt very smooth and high . . . very clear . . . I had the sense of not fighting or struggling.

There were also some feelings of sadness, melancholy and loneliness-- although these were minor and not "particularly agonizing."

In general, Cralg was very much enjoying existence during this period.

I was being very much of a hedonist at the time-- I was savoring people, the environment I was living in, my sense or space . . . . I had what I needed. All was taker care of.

[89] Another important characteristic of this period was a sharpness of the senses. The visual aspect, has already been mentioned. All the other senses were heightened at various times. Craig recalls that he could sit next to a person and feel the warmth or coldness emanating from his or her body. He says he also gave a good massage then because of his sensitivity.

There was another change in perception, of a different order.

I was perceiving the significance, the inner connectedness; that everythlng rdas a coherent flow. Even more than that, that experience was a teaching. And it was directed . , . . There was an element of consciousness and wisdom . . . purposefulness.

When describing the activities of the day during this period, Cralg used the word "rhythm" several times.

[There] was kind of a very satisfactory rhythm to my day. Alone time-- together time --time for what- ever I wanted to do.

Connected with "his rhythm was the concept of "freedom "-- in part determined by the fact that there were very fewfriends Craig had in Oswald at that time. He experienced a feellng of a "lot of space" to move around in.

Besides a lot of space, Craig felt he had a lot of time-- time felt "slowed down." He could often see something coming in a group experience "three hours before it occurred."

[90] He felt a "sense of rightness" about everything he was doing and talked of "the integrity of (his) style" during that period.

Part of what Craig was doing was a "testing out" of some of the Gestalt notions, not in a philosophical way but in an experiential way. Although he was in a Gestalt group, he found he didn't participate all that much in the sessions. Instead, he took something away from the sessions and worked with it on his own. Malnly what he worked on was just staying in touch with what he was experiencing-- belng conscious of it.

Relationships with people during this experience were "not strikingly different" from usual. Craig didn't talk about his experience much to anyone but when he did it was usually in a humorous way. He felt he was available for contact with people, but very definitely a separate individual.

One thlng Craig did from time to time was to check out the "projections" of other people, or, in his words, "how people were running out their movies."

I had a very clear sense of almost a physical tug that (certain questions) would give me. (It was) their way of getting someone to do something-- their way of manipulating . . . . I could almost get a physical sense of their projections-- they had a tangible quality.

Cralg was very aware of the "games" others were playing and the lack of real contact in many of the interpersonal [91] exchanges.

Cralg was also concerned with breaking some of his old worn-out patterns of behavior and perception. One of these "programs" was the "fact" that he had ability but not talent. Getting ln touch wlth the unconscious sources of insplration manifested by visual imagery played a part in diminishing the strength of thls old program.

Cralg is not really sure when the experience ended-- it "just sort of trailed off." The meditation tapered off giving way to a fascination with taking pictures. This was related to the "sense of recovering of the visual dimensions in (his) consciousness." Earlier Cralg spoke of a central experience (involving some 'psychic' phenomena) lasting perhaps 5-7 days. Around this period-- both before and after-- things are somewhat hazy. There seemed to be a "lot of leading in and a lot of leading out." He feels the very high feelings might have ended once he left Oswald-- about three months after his "core" experience.

In the period prior to his experience, Craig experienced some emotional difficulties. After a month or month and a half of intensive Gestalt work he "went into a slump." He went out to Hawaii for the Christmas holidays feeling "kind of crazy and depressed." At a party at a frlend's house, Cralg tried to stay on the sidelines because of the way he felt.

[92] I didn't want to weird folks out. But I was crossing the room one time and an older woman stopped me-- in her 70s-- and said something to me. And I have no idea of what I said to her-- but they claimed later that I set her off. She went out for the rest of the night trying to save people's souls . . . . And I was accused of somehow bringing that about.

Before going out to Oregon, Craig suffered from some paranoid feelings of being attacked by "supernatural she-demons or sort of bizare, out-of-the-world monsters, demonic figures." In time, his paranoia went through changes, gradually becoming tied more to fears of being physically hurt or getting sick. After several months of Gestalt work and meditation, he came into a much more "clear" space (the present experience). At times it was clearer than at other times but Craig did not become overwhelmed by paranoia at any time during this period.

Although Craig viewed the experience as a "turning point" in his life, it was also seen as part of a natural growth process that had been in evidence long before. He feels the experience reinforced tendencies that existed in him previously-- tendencies some describe as "mellowness" and others describe as "laziness"-- the importance of being in the present rather than "rushing off to get somewhere else in my lifetime-- to be a success . . . ."

The experience was a spiritual one for Craig and he feels that to view it solely in psychological terms is a mistake.

Emila Kinkaid

[93] Secretary; around 30.

Emila Kinkaid described an experience which occurred in the winter of 1974. She said of this period:

It still stands out as a special time, a time that seemed to be different to me than the way my life goes on normally.

The experience took place over a span af five days, in a Gestalt workshop at a growth center.

Emila described the period immediately preceding this experience as a time of frustration and disappointments-- both in her work in a hospital and in a personal relatlonshlp with a man. In addition, in the house where she lived she was feeling oppressed by the number of people present and by their demands on her time and emotion.

Too many people around. I had so many things impinging on me-- so many people pushing me and so many people asking for things from me that I just got tired of giving it

It was also a time of transition-- she was leaving the hospital, which, although it had been frustrating, had provided a "core of friends." She was entering a new phase in her educational career and looking for some "new bases of support." She says of herself that she was "open to new things."

About a week after leaving the hospital, she heard of a Gestalt workshop to be given that week by Dr. Drake, a fairly [94] well-known therapist. On an impulse, she almost "literally jumped up and went to the phone." She had previously read part of a book by this man, but she really didn't know very much about him. Yet, for some reason, she had a very strong intuitive feeling that it was a good decision. Whlle she was excited at the prospect of the workshop, her attitude was essentially that she had no real expectations, that she didn't know what was going to happen.

This intuitive impulse is not foreign to Emila-- she bought a house in 10 minutes on a similar feeling. She feels these impulsive actions almost always turn out well for her.

As soon as the workshop started, Emila was immediately impressed and affected by Drake's presence. More than any other single factor, she stressed his personality and power in relating this experience.

There was something about his strength and his penetration [she laughed at the sexual connotation of this word]. He's a very penetrating person; he really gets down to the core of people very quickly.

Although she didn't work with him individually until late in the fourth day of the workshop, she felt

extremely close to him in a few hours just watching hlm touch other people.

Drake's directness threatened some people but Emila did not feel threatened. She felt she could share his own closeness and give him something. They had many Long talks. In [95] some ways she viewed him as the "ideal, mythical" father, the "Gestalt good father"-- although she could also see his faults and get angry at him.

Drake's strength and his honesty in confronting manipulative attempts and exposing "games" gave Emila a "sense of safety:"

His ability . . . made me feel very safe, I didn't have to be responsible for anybody . . . . I could let go because I felt like he was in touch and that he would be in touch with me if I needed to let go. (I had) a sense of him saying, "I'm here to help you take care of yourself and you don't need those games anymore." Those were factors that contributed to the feeling I had of being really at peace.

One of the maJor feelings Emila described was being comfortable or at peace with conflict or with not knowing exactly what she wanted at any particular moment. She felt she was "free to be ambivalent." Most of her individual work with Drake centered on the maklng of decisions and on her previous fear of ambivalence. The freedom to be indecisive led her to become more clear, in the long run, of what she did really want to do.

One example she gave of this freedom to be ambivalent involved a relationship with one of the men in the group. Emila was attracted to him but was "extremely amblvalent" about this attraction.

What I said to him was "I want and I don't want." And I allowed myself to say that rather than feeling I had to make a firm decision to be with him during the week or not.

[96] This opened the door to further talking and exploring of their relationship and one night they found themselves being very playful with each other. They had decided to spend the evening together with no further expectations and they ended up sleeping together.

That wasn't the high point of the week particularly. But I felt good because I felt I hadn't been coerced into anything-- I felt I had made my own decision. I felt that I had responded to my body and to things that were happening right then and it was real-- it was fun. We had a good time.

Emila stressed the fact that there were no expectations or major implications of this brlef interlude. Neither person had any illusions of a lasting relationship and each person was very honest with the other about both feelings and thoughts.

Besides the freedom to be ambivalent, Emila experienced other types of freedom that week. One was the freedom to act as she pleased-- to be as separate or as close to the other people in the group as she wanted to be at any particular time. Sometimes she held the hand of the man she had played with if she was feeling particularly in need of support. (She stressed the importance of his being free not to give that support if he didn't really want to.) This feeling of freedom was tied to an "inner sense" which told her what she really wanted. The consciousness of this sense was very much facilitated by the "body work" in the Gestalt group.

[97] She also felt the freedom to 'be' whomever she pleased-- to show various sides of herself, including the 'masculine' and 'feminine' elements.

There's a real polarity in me . . . . I have fantasies of my really tough side and of my really soft side . . . . I really felt free to be both of those things that week. Even the way I dressed. The first day I went I had on a really beautiful skirt . . . the next day I wore engineer overalls and heavy boots.

Emila felt free from some of the normal expectations she had of herself. This, coupled with the freedom to be ambivalent, changed the nature of the decision-making process for her. Rather than being thought out, decisions arose in an organic way out of the total present situation.

Besides the feelings of freedom, Emila also felt more physical and sensual, more aware of her body and of the messages it was sending. Much of this had to do with the group work but it carried over outside the group sessions. She also felt more compassionate than usual, a term Drake used in describing her. She was able to empathize with the feelings of the others in the group to an unusual degree-- to share their pain, aloneness, or joy.

Emila found some differences in her relationships that week other than those already mentioned, There was one man in the group whom she liked but was not physically attracted to. The man was attracted to her. She was a little confused at first how to express liking for him without his confusing [98] this for a sexual come-on. She got into a "playful relationship with him."

We had one evening of massage and he asked me if I'd be his massage partner. I felt ambivalent about that but, as it turned out, I enjoyed it. It was a nice way of expressing caring but it didn't become sexual . . . . I was very clear that I didn't want (anything else) and I made that very clear to him. . . being able to say 'no' is a really nice thing.

There was one woman in the group who was described by Emila as very "touchy-feely." With this woman, Emila found herself able to express warmth and caring without "getting roped into her touchy-feely world." She was able to avoid the polarities of isolation and total envelopment.

On one occasion (Valentine's Day) Emita got a bag of 'little kids Valentine's cards'. She was a bit anxious about giving them out to the group because of what they might think ("this is all so silly or stupid"). Part of her wanted to give them out, part of her was afraid to. She decided to bring the cards and, if she felt like it, to give them out. That's what she did.

I didn't feel anxious about it. I felt comfortable and happy. People thought it was neat. Tt was fun . . . . Drake wrote (in my autographed copy of his book), 'You not only give Valentines, you are one.'

In most of her relationships that week, Emila found she could be both very giving but also "selfish" it she needed to be. And these polarities could exist side by side without [99] the usual tension.

Emila felt a real peacefulness inside of her during that week-- especially noticeable when she was by herself walking in the woods. She felt especially receptive to the natural surroundings-- partly because she felt she was not hurrying-- "even in (her) head"-- to get somewhere.

I was aware that I was different in relationship to the environment-- the snow, the temperature, the colors . . . I wasn't having to push it aside because of thinking . . . or because I had something to do so I had to rush . . . . I had a feeling that I could just be. I didn't have to solve problems, make decisions, or analyze what was happening . . .

During one afternoon, Emila was so receptive to her surroundings that the normal inner/outer boundary was momentarily obliterated.

I was walking by myself at lunchtime. It was such a gorgeous day-- it was really almost warm and I really felt almost that I wasn't there. That the environment-- the trees, the light, the smell, the sunshine, everything-- that I really was a part of that-- it was almost like all those feelings went all the way inside me, that there wasn't a separation between my skin and the inside of me and the outside out there. I kind of lost myself there. It didn't last long-- maybe three minutes. I was just being very still and not moving. When I was moving, I was much more aware of my body and where it began and ended.

Emila emphasized the fact that the weather that week was exceptionally beautiful. The first day it snowed but every day thereafter it was bright, warm (in the 30s or 40s), and clear.

[100] Visual clarity was experienced as markedly improved during the week.

I felt like I could see better. . . . Everywhere I was I was pretty aware of color and light and shade. That was high for me.

The times when she was most high were those times she was alone-- usually walking by herself in the woods. Even in the group, Emila felt "alone" but not lonely-- "alone in a strong way." She became aware of a very strong need for privacy.

Emila's thinking process was somewhat altered during her experience. Her mind felt very "clear and peaceful"-- as opposed to the usual pattern of racing thoughts, agonizing over a decision, planning, worrying, and the like. The contrast between these two ways of thinking was evident each night as Emila got in her car to drive home. Just after leaving, her head would "start racing"again, The adjective "clear" was important for Emila in describing her feelings, her decisions, her visual perceptions, as well as her thinking.

One interesting aspect of Emila's experience was that some thlngs were seen to be less significant than usual. She put a lot of her "shoulds" away--

You should be more concerned, you should be studying harder, you should be reading this-- and I'd say fuck it! I don't want to!

The end of the experience pretty much coincided with the [101] end of the group. Emila felt no sadness or need to hang onto anything at the end-- she "didn't feel like crying." To the man she played with and stayed with that one night she said, 'It would be nice if we get in touch with each other-- if it happens, it happens.' To Drake she felt like saying 'hello', rather than 'goodbye'-- "hello to all the things that were happening in me, really." The sensory vividness mostly ended when she left that place, although at times she has recaptured it.

In her narration of this experience, Emila stressed at length the results, or carry-over, of the experience to her subsequent everyday life. One of the most immediate decisions she made was to go to another, longer workshop with Drake in California this summer.

Another maJor result was a change in the relationship with Richard, her boyfriend. Immediately after the group, Emila felt very much in touch with what she wanted from the relationship. One of the things she needed was that when there was a conflict between the two of them, that they discuss it openly. Richard felt unable to meet this demand. She broke off the relationship.

It was really an upsetting time but I felt clear.

In the next two weeks, Emila renewed many old friendships, made some major decisons, met some new people, and, in general, enjoyed considerable freedom. After two weeks, [102] however, she missed the closeness she had had wlth Richard, called him to make a date-- they got together again and Emila feels their relationship has been much better ever since. They are both more committed to each other and to the relationship than they had been previously. On the other hand, their separation made Emila aware of "how much I gave myself up to him" before-- of "how much of myself I had been misslng." Now she is determined to retain her individuality in the relationship. She gave an instance of Richard inviting her to a dinner that he was "under an obligation" to attend. She sald she didn't want to go (an alternative she wouldn't have considered before). Richard later told her he really appreciated her honesty.

Another result of this experience in Emila's opinion is that she has learned to start "taking better care of herself"-- spending more money on herself instead of agonizing over whether she should or shouldn't. Shortly after her experience she took a week's vacation in Puerto Rico, a rest she sorely needed but which she had previously denied herself.

Emila summarizes some of the main results in the following way:

I feel like I'm more at peace with myself; I'm better to myself; I've given myself more and I'm more honest.

She is less worried over her relationships. She feels more free not to contact some people without worrying what [103] they think of her. In general, she feels less worried and troubled by anxious thoughts since her experience. She also feels less like she has to live up to the expectations of anyone else. She had previously felt "locked into a pattern" in her vocation-- that people expected her to go a certain route. Now she feels she can go more her own route. Along with this, her values have become more her own and less coming from outside of her. She has rejected her father's 'rule'that, "Of course, you know what you want." She has given herself the freedom not to know all the time (to be ambivalent at times). As a result of her new-found freedom, Emila's ultimate direction is less clear-- she's less certain exactly what she will be doing in, for example, one year. But she feels very comfortable with this uncertainty and translates it into a feeling of openness and adventure.

A final result was Emila's being more open with a person with whom she lived and had considerable conflict previously. They have come to enjoy each other much more.

Emila felt that her experience had some "spiritual" implications-- that the therapy was a spiritual force. But she didn't, have any sense of a "supernatural kind of being that was bestowing any kind of meaning or anything."

Janice Darrow

[104] Writer, early 30's.

Janice Darrow described a perlod in her life that lasted over a year.

Prior to this period, Janice had left school and lived with a man in Rhode Island. She was very happy being with him, although she now realizes she was very subservient to him. They travelled to Europe together. Janice felt "up- tight" about all the travelling. They settled in a rural town in France-- isolated from the rest of the world. While Michael, her boyfriend, worked on his master's thesis, Janice wasn't doing anything. Her whole identity was wrapped up in Michael-- she was the "he1pless female." She enrolled in a school in France "just as an excuse to be doing something." The couple then went to England to live. There things were even worse-- the relationship was "startlng to fall apart." Janice did even less than she had in France. Finally, they decided to split up.

Janice came back to this country and applied to a university only three weeks before school was to start. Using a combination of "half truth" and "half bull-shit" she talked her way into a program.

She half-heartedly started looking for a place to live, but she soon realized she would rather live with her parents (in the same town as the university). She felt she needed the security of her parents' home at that time. She needed [105] someplace where she could relax and not be concerned about handling the responsibilities of living on her own.

I was feeling sort of like I'd been in a frenzy for a long period of time and I was feeling like what I needed was total relaxation.

When relating these feelings to me, Janice was conscious of the leaving of one dependent relationship (with Michael) and re-entering another (with her parents).

Janice was very excited about going back to school. In fact she states,

Almost everything focused on school when I came back . . . . When I talk about all these positive sorts of things most of them were academic kinds of things.

The excitement contrasted sharply with the previous attitude towards school: apathy and boredom. The year before she left for Europe she skipped "2/3" of the classes. She was "into peace and love and brotherhood" and academics had no place !n these values. While in Europe, her values began to change, almost imperceptibly. She began to get interested in thinking about things-- especially history. (Michael, on the other hand, started a shift in the opposite direction-- away from intellectual pursuits.) However, she wasn't really aware of the great changes that had taken place until she returned to school.

That put me in a situation I was familiar with-- it was like a before and after. That was when I could [106] really see it. I had really changed . . . . (In Europe) I wasn't making any effort. I wasn't saying I'm going to devote this period to personal growth. Just the things that came out of it were really obvious.

Janice described her behavior durlng this period as "super-pragmatic." She did anything she felt was important to her and found ways to get out of things she felt were unimportant. She talked her way out of three or four "stupld" required courses. She had a very strong sense of "direction"in her life, something that she felt was lacking in many of the students around her. She had a sense of her actions being both determined and free:

Everything I did was determined-- determined by me. I set about to do something-- a very definite direction. (I was) free in the sense that they were my actions and I was responsible for them.

Some of her energy for school-work, JanLce ascribes to a competitive urge. She felt she was just as intelligent as Michael and she was going to prove it. At the same time, she had her "own pure and honest interests and urges" to learn. She was successfully competing in a 1arge1y all-male department (history) but she was not afraid of losing her feminity. (Previously, intellectual interests were considered by her to be more of a "masculine" trait). Now she felt that sex-role stereotype to be less important.

About her feelings during this time, Janice first described how relieved she felt to be in the easy structured [107] life of home and school . She also mentioned how happy she felt about herself as a "productive person." She focused on a feellng of excitement which was often present:

I would tell people what I was going through and I'd, be really excited about it . . . that kind of excitement (which pecple pick up . . . by osmosis or something. And they would feel an immediate kind of 'Wow, that's really great, terrific!'

She described the physical sensatlon often felt during this period as like that felt "when you feel completely satisfied"-- "an absence of tension; confident; very sure of (herself)." She felt her feelings were "more honest" because she was "more honest with (herself)."

One idea that was quite predominant during this time was the idea of the responsibility one has for his own actions. Janice went through an "extreme" period during which she felt she couldn't be held accountable for anybody else's feelings-- they had to take responsibility for them. She gave an ex- ample of this:

When you walk into a room full of people-- a party-- where they're all your friends and you're with somebody who doesn't know any of them. What is your responsibility to that person? (Then) I would say, this person mingle with these people or he won't and I can't be the one who's responsible for that.

At present she views such thinking and behavior as "a lot of bull shit." She feels she was trying "in an artifical way" to brlng the polarities, "selfish" and "selfless" together. [108] Now she feels they can't come together.

Another idea that dominated Janice's thinking was "the power of positive thinking."

Her thinking, in general, she characterized as more efficient, which she sees as a "natural part of the growth that I went throught." She feels like her ideas and behavior "fit" better during this period than previously.

Before a lot of my ideas were sort of 'in' ideas that came from the outside-- they were being acted out but they weren't really mine. (In this period) I assumed I presented an appropriate behavior to what I was thinking instead of presenting an appropriate behavior to what I thought I should be thinking.

She relates the development of her own ideas to the lessened peer group pressure she fe1t (because of less "social-type" interaction).

A large proportion of Janice's description of her experience was concerned with her style of interpersonal relationships. Before leaving for Europe, her room at college had been "Like Grand Central Station."

I was everybody's friend. I knew 700 million people. And I came back and found that I didn't know any.

Once she returned, most of the old relationships she had previously developed at school were found to be superficial or boring. For the most part, these relationshlps "disintegrated." She had almost no friends that she merely [109] "socialized" with. She felt she was almost "blunt, with people--she had things she was interested in and had no time for "chit chat or idle chatter." She began to become quite intolerant of people who weren't vitally interested in what they were doing or who complained about a lack of interesting things at the university. It was not hard to maintain this intolerance because she was, in some senses, "isolated."

Janice was, however, attracted to people who, like herself, were very interested in, and excited about, whatever they were doing. Some of these people (perhaps two or three at any one time) she took as "models" for herself. One example of such a person was described as "an incredibly talented person"-- a musician who could play expertly recorder, piano, French horn and harpsicord, a craftsman who build his own harpsicord and a medical student "who couldn't handle the structure of medical school" and so dropped out and continued his studies on his own. The self-disclpline of such people Janice particularly admired.

Although she was still writing to Michael, they had an understanding that they would both see other people. During the first semester back in school, however, Janice avoided any type of emotional involvement with men. The second semester she met one man whom she became quite close to. She began to feel very restricted in thls relationship.

I was so into this independence thing. That was probably why any kind of closeness as a restrictive [110] relationship . . . didn't work . . . . When you get into a 1:1 relatLonship like that, it gets very confusing where your responsibility to yourself stops and your responsibility to the other person starts. I guess I really didn't want to deal with that.

The problem was in part solved by her friend's graduation and subsequent departure from the area. Tbey saw each other on occasions after that, but with much 1ess 'exclusive' connotations. They became more like just good friends.

Janice stated that durlng this period, she:

had a whole new frame of reference, and from my new frame of reference, my life seemed a whole lot more valuable than it seemed when I was in the other life.

The use of the phrase "the other life" glves some indication of how profound a change there had been.

Janice did not notice any alterations of the senses during this experience.

The end of this positive period came about quite abruptly. Janice was turned down from four universities she had applied to in England. This was the "first academically-oriented thing that failed."

Following the end of this phase in her life, Janice experienced a period of about a half a year when things seemed "very mediocre" to her. Friends of hers have told her that she was "just horrible" and that they couldn't stand to be around her then. After this period, a "happy medium" started [111] emerging. It was then that some of the "extremes" of the experience narrated earlier were modified (for example, the extreme way of interpreting one's basic "responsibilities").

There have been several positive results of this experience:

I'm much more aware of the kinds of thlngs I have to have around me to be successful-- structure is one thing; order; vibrant, exciting people . . . . It doesn't always function. But I do believe eventually all that's going to come together. I'm just more clear what kinds of things promote positive experiences. And I can-- to some extent-- organize those things in my life so that my life will keep moving on a positive keel . . . . I know now so many things about my llfe-- I know what I'm capable of . . . what my motivations are.

One specific result of the experience was a change in the way she related to her former boyfrLend, Michael, She went to Europe to see him last summer.

The change in me was wonderful. I was not intlmidated by him; I wasn't threatened.

The only experience that Janice felt was similar to the experience discussed here was the time she and Michael lived together in Rhode Island. However, she draws the clear distinctLon that then:

so much of the positive rested solely in my relationship with him. Now all these things inside me are changing.

Lilian Krackow

[112] Lilian Krackow described a very positive experience lastlng about three or four days which occurred in the summer of 1973.

A close look at the period preceding this experience seems to be especially important in this case. In the previous winter Lilian had spent a very intensive month studying for her cornprehensive examinations for the Ph.D. program in dance. Immediately after the exams were over, she felt very depressed. In an effort to find out what was bothering her, she entered movement therapy with K. Over a four-month period of time she continued working in therapy. Her body kept taking one position again and again: the position of a mother during child-birth-- "as if my body were trylng to reject something, press something out." Her therapist had to leave the area near the beginning of June.

About the week after the termination of therapy, Lilian was walking by the university infirmary. She had been having some minor "female" problems. "Something just snapped in (her) head" and she decided she had to go in the infirmary and see a doctor. She asked for a Pap smear. Two weeks later lt came back positive, indicating the possibility of cancer in the womb area.

Then followed two operations-- the first a DNC or scraping of the uterus-- definitely indicating cancer; the second a hysterectomy nine days later. During the period between [113] the operaiions, Lilian was quite upset" She felt intuitively that whatever was wrong was "more than cancer." She believed that cancer in the womb area might be related to psychological factors, and that if she did not get in contact with whatever was causing the cancer, it would reoccur even if successfully removed. She got in touch with a therapist friend of hers and they worked very intensively for several hours. This was a preparation for facing "the death" within her. Another friend threw the I Ching-- Lilian asked the oracle if the operation would remove the death. It answered to the effect, 'When the death is removed, new life will be born.' She had been skeptical of such procedures previously but she was 'amazed'. Another prediction was that she would meet a man who wouLd becorne very important in her life and who was really an artist.

Finally, she entered the hospital and had the hystorectomy. She was on a cancer ward for almost a month (tne incision had abscessed).

It was a terribly difficult experience . . . everyone was dying . . . . By the time the month was over, it was like being institutionalized. I was getting terribly used to it and beginning to think that that wes what life was like-- my world was made up of sick people.

During this time in the hospital Lilian's family and friends were "incredibly, absolutely, unbelievably" supportive of her. Her surgeon turned out to be the man, in her opinion, [114] the I Ching had spoken of.

Her surgeon turned out to be the man, in her opinion, the I Ching had spoken of.

He was really an artist . . . . He could teLl by touching the surface of the skin what was happening inside the body . . . . I totalty trusted him and he was totally honest with me.

At the end of a month at the hospital, Lilian's body was "crazy-- nothing was functioning right." She had lost considerable weight, her digestive tract was dysfunctional. She could eat only very little and could not taste anything.

She went to her sister-in-law's house, which was near the ocean, to recuperate. Her room faced the ocean. Lilian describes the beginning of the positive experience she focused on in the interview:

When I got out of the hospital, the whole thing started to hit me. Suddenly I started to see things very differently . . . . I couldn't believe it. They were all alive out there! They were all well! I kept saying, 'Look at them! I don't understand this.' It was just wild. I had forgotten that there was that world out there . . . that was kind of the beginning of the experience.

Her sister-in-law allowed Lilian to be an adult and "never pushed her" to eat. Meal times always included candles and a little wine.

After the first day, my body began to come alive again . . . I picked out a large green grape and bit into it and it was like the first time I had ever tasted a grape.

Besides her taste, other senses were sharpened. Her [115] brother put on some classical music.

It was like the first time I had ever heard music. It was so clear, so lucid and so beautiful.

Her vision was dominated by the ocean, which "was like a healing force." She just watched "the changes of light all day long."

She called the three or four days a "euphoric period"-- she felt "complete happiness." She felt "very appreciative and in awe of everybody and everythlng."

It was just such a fantastic realization of what being alive was about . . . .

It was different from the everyday, kind of mundane life that I'm living now-- which has high moments-- this was a continual high . . . a spiritual thing.

During this time "I felt very much love for Myron, the man who had read her I Ching. During the first few days of her stay (which is the duration of her experience) he was not with her. Towards the end of the week he visited, and, although this was also felt very strongly and as a type of euphoria, it was not as non-conflicted and 'real, real high' as the earlier period. Part of the confllct revolved around the fact that Myron was married.

It was just really close and nice. And the feelings were very strong . . . . we didn't know how to cope with it or what was going to happen. It's a foreboding kind of tragedy, but you don't look at it that way (at the tlme).

[116] On the second day of her experience, Lillan was undressing and her sister-in-law was helplng to change her clothes. She happened to look in the mirror. The image of her thin, naked body brought to mind a 13 or 14-year-old girl. Her body looked totally different to her. She exclaimed to her sister-in-law, I've been reborn. I can see it." The feeling she had was of "a total rebirth." This feeling she connected with an image that had come to mind during the therapy session with K. The image was an egg and she was inside the egg.

Lilian noticed more changes in interpersonal relationships during this time. She felt the relationship with her sister-in-law was "more intense and more personal"-- in part due to the fact that her sister-in-law was tending to her physical needs. Lilian was not in a position to do anything because of her condition. She could only receive-- something she had rarely experienced, previously. She learned how to receive during the whole of her operation and recovery-- and during the three or four day period being discussed.

Lilian also felt more free to say things to people. If she felt love, she could express it to the person.

The process of thinking-- during the entire period of recovery after the operation-- underwent some major changes. Lillan found it very difficult to connect thoughts; she could not concentrate on reading for more than a minute. At her sister-in-law's house.

[117] There were not a lot of stimuli. I was not thinking of a lot of other things at the time . . . . It was very peaceful.

The smallest task, like washing a dish, would exhaust her both physically and mentally. One time a woman called Lilian on the phone to offer her a job.

That conversation was hilarious because I couldn't really connect totally what she was saying and I knew she didn't know. After about a half hour I was exhausted in trying to make her think I was still sensible.

Lilian also had extreme difficulty in remembering names-- except for those of her famlly and closest friends. She explains these alterations in thinking as part of the healing process-- that her unconscious was acting in a protective way. She felt that if she was thinking as she normally does,

I couldn't have handled the (psychic) implications. It's the whole woman being removed, in a sense.

At the same time as one part of her brain was "sleeping," another part was reawakening. Her power of visual imagery were "heightened tremendously." She remembers listening to a record of some Indian music Myron had brought-- it would "send her off" on very vivid fantasy trips. She feels sure such an effect would be much less pronounced in her normal state of consciousness. Another time she was writing some letters to Myron about the sea. She felt a "total part of all that-- it was a real connection with the Universe."

[118] It was all pictures-- (not words). I don't know if it was seeing what I thought or seeing what I felt-- they (were) both the same thing.

Besides the sensory changes already mentioned-- Lilian described these changes as going "from death to life"-- there was another sensory change. She felt very strong sexual urges at this time. She felt sure that if she could have made love she would have. In one way, she wondered if she was testing herself to see if that was still possible after the operation.

Lilian felt that during this experience,

Everything had more significance. Absolutely everything. It was people, food, a whote spiritual thing . . . . Life had more significance-- something to be really valued.

She found that her experience in viewing death (and in facing the possibility of her own death) made her much more aware of the fragility and transiency of life. She became convinced that if there was something she really wanted, she should take it, "because there really might not be another chance." In some ways she realized that living meant taking at times a kind of healthy selfishness.

I don't believe in being 'selfless'. (Before this experience) I think I functioned "selflessly" with more concern for others than for myself.

Some other aspects of being were different for Lilian during this experience. Of her "inner voice" or instinctual [119] impulse, she stated firmly, "It was clearer." Besides the loss of boundaries felt with the ocean and her surroundings, Lilian felt a similar merging with Myron whenever they were together. Another factor which shouldn't be overlooked was the "tremendous pride" and sense of accomplishment connected with relearning to do "simple" tasks-- such as walking. One day she walked all the way down a big hill to the beach to get an ice-cream cone.

I had to feel I could do it and I did . . . . It was such an accomplishment. It was tremendously exciting.

The total high of the first three or four days started to become modified when Lilian's brother heard about Myron coming to the house to visit her. Her brother was quite disapproving of Lilian becoming involved with a married man who had chlldren. He felt she was being foolish. Thus, when Myron did visit, "There were some feelings of discomfort."

After a week at the house of her brother and sister-in-law, Lilian felt strong enough to go home.

There were several important results of this experience for Lilian. One of the first mentioned was a change in her relationship to her former husband. Earlier she had "protected him and hurt (herself) by doing it." As a result of this experience, she got in touch with some very negative feelings towards him.

[120] I really realized how much I hated him. It was like a cap had been on all those years.

She was able to separate her feelings from those of her children-- to allow them to have their feelings towards their father but to allow herself to have her feelings towards him.

She learned the importance of not putting things off and of treating herself well. Shortly after her recovery from the operation, she called work and told them she was leaving for a vacation in the West Indies.

I just called work and said, I have to have it now. That's it. And I went.

She has also learned to give herself more space and time to relax on a day-to-day basis. Previous to this whole experience, she had so severely overscheduled herself that she had to function "like a machine"-- busy from 7:00 in the morning till 1:00 at night each day.

The experience helped her clarify the values-- make them "much more emphatic." She discovered how important her children and friends really were to her. Her education, on the other hand, "meant nothing, absolutely nothing." When she had to decide whether or not to take a job in the mid-West and leave her friends in New England, she decided to stay.

How could I give that up? People who had given so much to me-- it would really be like cutting out half of me to do that. Why starve?

[121] Partly as a result of this experience, Lilian has become much more aware of the presence and the power of the unconscious within her. She feels that the "unconscious mind can be trusted" with regard to major decisions. Unfortunately, "there's no way to rush the damn thing."

Finally, some of the spontaneity and openness of the experience has remained. During the interview she told me:

If I wanted to hug you, I would do it . . . . I still function that way.

(When I left, she did hug me.)

Singh Ramur

[122] Carpenter, practicing yogi; mid 20's.

Singh Ramur has lived in a yoga ashram in Massachusetts for the past three years. The prolonged, positive experience he described to me has lasted for those three years-- with minor variations.

Singh studies and practices kundalini yogi with the other members of the ashram. Their spiritual Leader is Yogi Bhajan-- a fairly well-known adept of the Eastern way.

Much of what Singh told me was more "philosophical" than "personal history" in the sense that many of his statements were about his beliefs and most of his beliefs are derived from the teachings of Yogi Bhajan.

Singh believes that most of his spiritual energy is derived from "devotion to God" and from his practice of Yoga. He feels that all limitations are self-impositions and may be removed by oneself with discipline. One may view oneself and the world either positively or negatively-- Singh feels he is learning to see things in a more positive light all the time. When obstacles or problems arise, these are not normally felt to be negative-- they are instead viewed as challenges and also as opportunities to learn about himself. Breaking through such barriers (finding solutlons to the problems) is experienced with intense positive feeling.

Singh describes the total process he is going through (of which the last three years is seen as a small part) as a [123] process of growth, a journey of discovery in search of his higher consciousness. More and more of that consciousness is revealed to him as he grows.

It's like a ball rolling down a mountain-- just gathering dirt-- it's always an expansion. That's why it's an on-going high.

Singh views the path to enlightenment as a "long process." He feels it involves becoming more and more "objective"-- as free from "personal notions" as possible.

Since coming to the ashram, Singh's world-view and his understanding of himself, he says, "have been turned around 180 degrees." His basic attitude towards the world is more what Yogi Bhajan calls "an attitude of gratitude"-- he feels grateful for everything since everything can be seen ln a positive way and he is choosing to see things in their positive light.

Like I have a revelation that there's something in my personality that keeps me apart from others . . . It's a positive experience to discover that-- it's not a negative thing. And I just say, wow, I'm grateful to discover this in myself so that it does not go on any longer.

The continued practice of Yoga and living at the ashram have aided in a considerable diminuation of the conflicts Singh once felt.

I find that everything I had a conflict with before, I really don't now, or the conflict is so minimized it's not worth giving any thought to.

[124] Singh states that at the beginning of the process he ls describing, it was difficult to break some of the negative patterns he had been used to. But as time goes on, the momentum is heavily in favor of the positive direction.

I used to have a lot more trouble dealing with my parents. And now when I saw that-- it doesn't matter where they're at-- whether my parents love me or hate me-- they do love me. However I related to them was from my own fears or security . . . . whether it was positive or negative, it was really my own interpretation. Now I can go home and my mother can say, 'I don't like the life-style you live, I wish you didn't wear a turban and your hair's too long'. But I just look at that and really love her and see behind her words her love for me as her child.

The main activities that Singh engages in are the practice of yoga and work. That he feels so positively while working Singh feels is a validation of the fact that this feeling is "solid" and not a "momentary bliss-out."

No matter what activity he's engaged in, Singh feels he is liable to stop and say to himself,

'Man, I am so lucky. Man, it's incredible . God, I just wouldn't want to live any other way.' And that happens all the time.

The basic feeling is that "everything is all right."

Singh says that his feelings are "no longer governed by fear." He gave as an example his feelings toward Rani, a girl he was to marry two weeks after the interview.

[125] I look at Rani-- and I don't feel I have to do something to hang onto her because I love her so much I wouldn't want to lose her. Instead the feeling is just total, absolule, 'I love her', Period, you know. And the other stuff of, 'I don't want to lose her' doesn't happen.

In general, Singh feels his emotions have become more "regulated"-- it takes much more to provoke him, for example, although he "can still give rise to a little anger once in a while-- not much, though."

Thinking, too, has become more regulated, more under his control. He is less likely to be overcome by "staticy, erratic, freaked-out" thoughts. He was once "a very violent person mentalty." Now he finds his thinking fairly devoid of violent thoughts. He relates the process of gaining control over one's mind through the practice of yoga to a greater amount of freedom of action. Sometimes, especially while working, he keeps a "chant in (his) head."

Singh feels that it is now more difficult than ever before to engage in "wrong" actions. It is usually very clear to him what the "rightful way of being" is in any given situation. (As he said this, he made a gesture with his hand, starting at his stomach and rotating upward and outward.) If he fools himself into thinking something is "rightful" when it isn't, a conflict results. When he does do something "wrong"-- he usually means this in terms of wrong for the total group of peaple he is living with-- he tries not to be miserable about it-- he just tries to correct it.

[126] Singh feels that the way he relates to women has changed radically during this time. Before practicing Yoga he often got "very emotionally entangled" in relationships with women; he was "protective, jealous, self-asserting and domineering." Now, because he feels so much more secure within himself, he feels none of these things, he says. He also feels he has become much more "discriminating" in the women he chooses to relate to. Previously he related to women more on the basis of physical or sexual attractiveness.

(Now) what's important to me is that human-being inside that body (who's) communicating something to me or not communicating something to me.

At one point in the interviews, Singh said to me:

It's funny for me to be speaking in the first person (singular) because I'm naturally conditioned to speaking as part of the group . . . . So when I say "I" I mean "WE," too-- because that's what I would be saying if this weren't a personal interview.

He feels very strongly that the self-other boundary imposed by most people most of the time is usually absent in his everyday experience.

I don't exist by myself . . . . I can't separate myself from the everybody that's me. From the me that's everybody else.

Sometimes, he forgets this essential unity, but, "it's getting harder and harder to forget."

[127] There's a part of me that knows there's no separation. There's another part of me that's working towards remembering that all the time.

Besides the merging of 'self' and 'other', there is no major difference felt between 'outer' and 'inner'.

No separation. The outer world is totally perceived by the glasses that my inner need puts on. The world is negative when I'm negative; the world is positive when I'm positive.

Feelings and thoughts are also felt to be "more aligned and more alike each other as days go by."

Singh experiences his senses as "heightened and clarified: sight, sound, taste, feeling, everything. Pretty much all the time." But, he adds, "There's not as much desire to gratify those senses because they're more in perspective"

An intense desirfe to gratify the senses is really a mental thing-- not a sensory thing. (When) the mental thing is taken care of . . . the senses just happen when they happen.

Singh feels that, as time goes by, he is becoming more and more "selfless"-- concerned more with giving to others rather than with gratifying his own desires. He feels the "wanting to give" is a "primary urge" and that "the satisfaction that comes to (him from giving) is after the fact of just wanting to give."

Singh briefly alluded to the period before he came to the ashram.

[128] I was not fulfilled, basically. And I had a longing to open up myseif because I felt that the love that I had to give I was not really able to give and the love that I felt I deserved to experience I wasn't experiencing . . . . I was looking for this. And who can say what it is that got me here?

Jamy Bryerson

[129] Psychologist, early 30's.

Jamy Bryerson's experience occurred in Alburquerque, New Mexico, in the summer of 1973 and spanned about 2 1/2 months.

Jamy had been working in Massachusetts as a psychologist, primarily with schizophrenic patients. She went to a conference in Boston during which a woman spoke regarding the work she and several others were doing (in Alburquergue) using body movement as a key in treating schizophrenia. Jamy got very excited about the description of this method and, during a break, asked the woman if she needed any volunteers. The woman assured her they would welcome her interest in learning and working and invited her out to New Mexico.

Her initial attitude towards going out to New Mexico, Jamy told me, included both an eagerness to learn the treatment techniques and a low expectation of New Mexico. "It's gonna be hot and it's gonna be conservative."

Jamy arrived in Alburquerque and went to work at the hospital where the wornan who had spoken in Boston worked. There she was introduced to an older woman named Wilma, with whom she would share an office.

Wilma looked at me and I looked at her and we knew that something was going to happen . . . . That we were going to make something. It was just sort of like a given in the first ten minutes. We felt a spark.

Wilma immediately told Jamy she liked the way she sighed and [130] breathed, but that Jamy had trouble in unstructured situa- tions (Wilma could tell by the position of Jamy's legs). They started talking about the messages people's bodies send out and how to read them. Very shortly, there was a group therapy session with some of the patients at the hospital. Jamy was "overwhelmed" by this experience. WiLma walked around the circle of patients, making contact with each one. She demonstrated various means of coordinating the patients' visual, thinking and motor abilities-- such as throwing a ball to someone while calling out his or her name. After this group and after meeting Wilma, Jamy felt that she had finally found the "medium" with which she could reach her own patients as well as the medium most suited to her personality.

After the first day of work, Jamy visited Wilma at her home, a trailer near the desert.

I really truly felt I knew her and she knew me though we'd only been together for one day . . . . Everything was o.k. Just flowing.

The rest of the week they worked together every day at the hospital and Jamy felt it was the "beginning" of something. The next weekend, Wilma asked her if she would like to live in her trailer with her, instead of in the apartment she had been temporarily sharing. Jamy accepted the invitation.

Very much of Jamy's descrlption af her experlence concerned her relationship with Wilma. Soon after she moved into [131] the trailer, Wilma, around 50 at the time, told her she had been looking for someone "to pass the torch on to"-- the torch being her knowledge of the body and movement work. Jamy was eager to receive that torch. She relates the feeling between them at that point, to the relationship between Don Juan and Carlos Castaneda. Wilma, like Don Juan, had "power."

She could pass her hand over (yours) and it would feel hot, pass it over and it would feel cold.

Unlike Don Juan, she was somewhat afraid of how much power she had. Jamy described how Wilma once worked with a patient who had been catatonic for a long length of time. The patient broke out of the catatonic state with a "real primeval scream" and became "totally chaotic." Wilma saw this as progress but the rapidity of the response made her a bit wary and cautious about the use of her power.

Very soon after they met each other, Jamy and Wilma knew their's would be more than a 'work' relationship. A feeling of closeness and love was there. Jamy says of the relationship:

I never had a relationship so much where I felt I don't need to accommodate, adjust, be careful; I just feel like I'm loved. Whatever is me-- ugly, beautiful-- I'm loved for all that.

Jamy felt that Wilma appreciated parts of her that others failed to notice-- this was like a validation of her existence. Much of their time together was spent playing. Jamy discovered [132] that Wilma, like herself, liked to dance wLth shadows. They seemed to share a very similar vision of the world.

(What) was just sort of blowing my mind was the things that I considered private and unsharable and just within my own fantasy or thinking . . . she was doing . . . . She was living it as if it were an everyday accepted fact . . . . I can't really tell someone the exact feeling I get when I look out and see the leaves on that tree. With her, I could say, 'Wilma, hey, look' and look back at her eyes and she understood exactly what was going on and it was the same for her. Without explaining it.

Before meeting each other, each had felt a "pressure" to share their world vision with someone. Now, with each other, that pressure was being released. They reached a point of "ESP" at which they very often knew what was on the other's mind. One time, they had a long wait in the Registry of Motor Vehicles. They counted and averaged 20 times an hour when one would say something and the other would say, "I was just going to tell you that!" Jamy felt that she had entered a "different reality." Besides the ESP, Wilma showed her some other "paranormal phenomena." One time, Wilma told her about "earth auras"-- areas of the earth that are more charged electrically than other areas, in which one could see a "glow" or "shimmer." Jamy was able to see the "force lines" in this area.

I stood on them. I could feel a tingling. It was like getting charged up. And I felt like I was holding cups of static electricity. That's the only way I could describe it. And then I began to [133] get dizzy, sort, af light-headed . . . . (Wilma shouted) 'Get off!'

Jamy also said she was able to see "auras" around people. During our interview she said she was watching mine. Some of the other 'psychic' phenomena is not dependent on Jamy and Wilma being in close physical contact.

Now, she knows when I'm going to call and I know when she's going to call. And when we write, our paragraphs cross-- word for word, just about-- in the mail . . . . Talking on the phone, she can tell if I'm sitting; I can tell how she's breathing.

After a while, it became obvious to both of them that there was a sexual element in their relatlonship.

We realized it was a possibility . . . . It was a flow. There were extensions in a lot of ways and this was another extension.

Although Jamy regards Wilma as her teacher in many ways, there is a type of equality. Jamy has something Wilma does not-- she is good with words. She is able to translate some of the concepts that Wilma has into a verbal form. Some of these will be going into a book that Jamy and several other people are putting together.

When I asked Jamy if there was a type of "merging"-- a loss of the normal boundaries-- between herself and Wilma, she replied,

It wasn't merging so much as moving together . . . . We could be separate people and we still moved together [134] . . . There was a merging of something beyond ourselves or bigger than ourselves . . . . It was like a rounded cloud . . . . She's distinctly here and I'm distinctly there and we're surrounded by stuff which is us but that stuff is not just us but also something else, bigger. Maybe some people (call it) God.

Jamy felt that there was a force, perhaps within herself, perhaps within her relationship with Wilma, that just carried her along through the midst of quite ordinary events. And this flow had no pre-ordained, certain direction.

We don't know where we're going. We just know that we're moving . . . . Trusting our own movement enough to know it will come out somewhere.

During this time, Jamy felt the normal definitions of "masculine" and "feminine" were less polarized. Although she and Wilma were "definitely celebrating a woman thing," part of their relationship and their work together "was almost beyond 'masculine' and 'feminine'."

All through their relationship, Jamy was learning from Wilma about the body and about movement. Jamy had once been attacked in North Africa by an Arab and bitten in the throat. Wilma did a lot of work with Jamy's throat, which was very tense.

One time Jarny relived the scene of the attack and realized,

The woman, being socialized, you don't hurt, people . . . . When I could wake up the viciousness that would save me, my throat was O.K.

[135] Another time, Wilma worked on Jamy's throat, tilting her head back, while supporting it in her hands.

I felt myself sinking more and more into a black swirl, becoming littler and littler, younger and younger-- down to being a baby, which was to be totally dependent on her and totally helpless.

Wilma demonstrated graphically to Jamy that when one did this with patients, one got them to "regress."

Jamy feels her relationship with Wilma is the "most important in (her) life and will have the biggest influence." She has an intuitive sense that this is truer although she couldn't really explain it.

Much of what Jamy was attempting to do while she was with Wilma was to slip into a type of thinking or state of consciousness she calls "sub-cortical." This is a "subjective" state during which one lets one's "non-thinking processes" (such as intuition) take over, during which one does not try to "figure things out" or "pinpoint everything," during which one "lets everything just flow." During this time, thoughts had very distinct feeling qualities (and vice versa). Thoughts were often "play thoughts:"

We would have one thought and string other thoughts onto it-- to see where it went.

She and Wilma sometime want to do an experiment during which they will go off somewhere by themselves and attempt to "turnoff (their) cortical."

[136] No thinking, no rationalizing, no evaluating . . . . Let it go with both of us and see what happens. What we're working for is perfect synchronization of feeling and expression.

Jamy feels this experiment will involve getting free from her past, her family, her socialization and will involve a great deal of emotional pain.

At the same time as Jamy was going deeper into her "subjective" consciousness, she found she could concentrate better on "objective" reality, also. She found herself reading neuro-anatomy books "for fun"-- picking up the material extremely well and also relating it to many other sources of information (studies in graduate school, memories from childhood, etc.).

During her ten-week stay in New Mexico, Jamy engaged in an exercise that made the duration seem longer. They called it "time stretching ,"

which is slowing things down to the point where it is possible to experience the little things, all the richness of things.

Time stretchtng involved an awareness of the present moment-- an ability to not get cut off from the present by the imposition of the future. When Jamy came back to Massachusetts after the summer, she tried to maintain this ability. But it was eventually largely lost when she "got caught up in schedules."

Jamy felt her senses were "all alive and taking in" during [137] this period. "Turning off the cortical" and "time stretching" were both exercises that allowed an unusual rlchness of sensory data to come in. At times, Jamy was so open to sensory imput,

I felt over-loaded . . . . when I try to take it in plus make sense of it and see how it fits in and is usable, then it gets to be too much . . . . If I can turn off my cortical and not block-- just let it flow-- I couldn't get overloaded.

About her feelings, Jamy said,

I've never felt so alive and so expanded, whole and so untired . . . relief; 'at last'; ecstasy; there was a vibrating excitement; like waking up . . . . There was a kind of peace from a perfect kind of sharing . . . a different level of happiness-- beyond my happiness here.

In spite of all these positive feelings, some conflicts were present but "they didn't matter-- they didn't take away (from the experience)." one major conflict concerned her parents calling and asking her for money. In these and other confllcts, Jamy experienced the feelings of conflict, but also "learned a lot about handling them."

In one sense, the experience ended when Jamy left New Mexico to come back to Massachusetts. She had been seeing a man in Massachusetts and her understanding with Wilma was that she would be going back. In several months, her relationshlp with the man deteriorated. Meanwhile, she and Wilma had been writing to each other. Jamy went out to see Wilma [138] in February.

As soon as I stepped off the plane, there it was again. We were back in ESP in five minutes.

She stayed a week; they decided to lLve together (Jamy was leaving for New Mexico shortly after I interviewed her).

Jamy briefly mentioned some of the results of this experience: she has worked out some of the problems she was having with men; she feels it is easier to be closer to people now than before; she is more aware of her body and its messages. A very practical result was that she started leading movement groups, in which her own "style" has rapidly emerged.

In terms of religious or philosophical implications, Jamy felt there were none, really-- the experience, itself, "incorporated" (was larger than) any such notions.

The only time Jamy has ever had a similar experience (besides very short ones) was when she was in her early teens and was in a Girl Scout camp. There were no pressures, no conflicts and Jamy remarked, "that would fit as a 'prolonged positive experience'."

Anne Watson

[139] High school teacher; mid 20s.

Anne Watson briefly described an experience she had in the fall of 1972 while travelling in Europe. It lasted approximately one week. Anne felt that there was not really a lot she could say about this time-- perhaps because it was a very 'simplified' existence.

She had previous to this experience been travelling with a girl-friend whom she was not especially close to.

There were certain characteristics about her that really started bothering me . . . . I didn't want to be bothered by them any more.

Staying in a hostel in Germany, the two glrls met a Frenchman named Claude.

I knew this was someone I could travel with if maybe I wanted to split up with (my girl-friend) and travel with someone else.

She felt that Claude was really an "at ease" person and his inner security made her feeL very comfortable in his presence. He was different frcm most European men that she had met previously in that he seemed to understand American values and culture to some degree-- he had studied American history and spoke English fluently. He didn't force her into playing the stereotyped female role which she felt she did have to play with some other men.

Anne split up with her girl-friend and travelled with [140] Claude. They had no particular destination-- but travelled for most of the week they were together in Switzerland. Anne did not go into any great detail about her relationship with Claude, but she did say she liked his sense of humor and that they were in a simiilar place mentally when they met-- "the timing was important." Both were aware of the fact that this was not to be a long-term relationship. There were none of the pressures of a long prior history and none of the pressures of an anticLpated future. There was a certain affection but it was different from coming to the conclusion, "We are in love now." Anne said she felt she had to make no special effort to make things nice-- either for herself or for Claude. It was a comfortable, relaxed, non-expectant relationship.

Anne and Claude hitched rides through Switzerland. They only went short distances which Anne feels is one reason the travelling never became tedious. They were outdoors most of the time, did a lot of hiking and some mountain climbing. They ate very simply-- "bread and cheese," mostly. The weather that week "was gorgeous."

Another factor that added to Anne's ease was the fact that Claude spoke French and German fluently, She was relieved of the responsibility of having to communicate with the local people. If she did want to, she could try-- but the pressure of necessity was off.

During this time, Anne felt "no pressure, very free . . . [141] more in touch with (herself)." As she described these feelings, she made the now familiar gesture of the hand rotating outward from the stomach. When I asked her if there was any one place in her body where she could localize these feelings, she replied, unhesitatingly, "In my stomach." She also stated:

I was more constantly myself . I felt more like myself.

Her senses during the week were unusually open, especially to the natural surroundings-- "earth, wind, trees, water." She said, in fact, that the sharpened senses was "a realty good way to know" when one was in the midst of such a positive experience. Her feeling of appreciation of most things was enhanced-- especially "the sharing" with Claude.

Anne experienced during the week a feeling for the universality of man-- in spite of cultural differences.

You get a feel for some quality that's (just universal). You can communicate no matter what the barriers are.

She described this as a feeling for "humanity" or "people-kind."

Several "unifications" took place during this period. There was less difference between "outer" and "inner" in one sense:

What I was feeLing I was saying, and vlce versa.

[142] Feelings and thoughts were more aligned than usual. Desires "weren't in dreamland" and tended to coincide more closely with values. In the selfish/ selfless dimension, she stated:

I was more of both. That is the best of the unified dichotomies to express the whole experience.

The sense of time during this week "seemed irrelevant," as if "it wasn't there."

The experience essentially ended when Claude had to leave to go back to school in France. (He has since visited Anne in this country and their relationship still is quite good.)

The major result of her experience for Anne was "the realization that you can have those feelings and that they can be lastlng." This experience, she feels, reinforced a direction in her life which she was feeling previously-- following on inner "flow"-- and it gave her some foresight where that flow might lead. She felt that the experience was "splritual" but did not have "religious" or "philosophical" implications. Its main significance was in the fact that it was "so good."

[143] Suzanne Nervi

Medical technician; late 20's.

Starting in the winter of 1968-1969, Suzanne Nervi experienced a prolonged positive state that lasted about five months. She was in her last semester of college at the time, was doing some meditation and dancing, and was eating macrobiotically. She lived in a house with several other students. Suzanne is not sure how the experience began-- no specific starting point stands out in her memory.

She emphasized some unusually positive feelings during this period. She felt "balanced" and that "everything was O.K.." Although she is normally an anxious person, she was not anxious then.

I felt so relaxed in things that were happening and satisfied and alive, that I didn't have this fear of what I should be doing to be alive. There were a lot less things I was afraid of . . . . It was a time when I saw what it was like for everything to go well and to feel kind of peaceful.

In general, her feelings were very "clear" to her.

Besides the feelings of balance and peace, there were al- so feelings of adventure and excitement. At one time she had to move from where she lived to another place.

It's hard to believe, knowing the way I am now, but I think I enjoyed the whole process of the change . . . . It was like an adventure . . . . The notknowing was fun. It was risk in the good way.

[144] Another time, Suzanne was in a car with some frlends. She had just smoked some marijuana.

All of a sudden, I realized that we were going terribly fast and my normal reaction would be to get very nervous and to want to get out of the car quickly, but [this time] it was like an ecstatic feeling . . . It was like an adventure. And then all of a sudden I got my normal thought, "What happens if we crash?" and I started to get this dying thing, but it wasn't at all unpleasant. And then I found myself thinking I really wouldn't mind dying tonight.

Suzanne felt that she was so fulfilled and so alive, that the fear of death had lost much of its sting-- What if I die before I even really live?

Suzanne experienced some unusually intense feelings of "unity" or "oneness" with everything around her, especially other people.

I had this feeling of everybody kind of flowing into each other . . . and I felt very much at one with everybody . . . like I knew everybody, almost, and I didn't have to say anything . . . . I felt we were all part of something.

At the same time, Suzanne felt very defined as an indlvidual-- and these two feelings were not experienced as a conflLct.

Suzanne's self-image went through some changes. Normally, she worries how she is coming across to people-- being especially afraid she is being "stupid." But during this experience, she didn't worry about being stupid. In fact, one time, during a group discussion, a man turned to her and said, "You are the most intellectuaL female I think I've ever met." She [145] was able to "really accept" the compliment because it fit with her self-image at the time-- that she was very intelligent.

Suzanne focused a great deal on her behavior during this experience. She was more assertive, more articulate, and more open about her true feelings. She didn't see other people as vulnerable and needing protection as she usually does. Also, she didn't feel like she had to protect herself-- she felt like she was more interested in what she was saying than whether other people would react negatively to it. This is in striking contrast to her normal "nervousness" and being "wishy-washy" in confrontation situations-- of not saying what she really means. She censored her thoughts much less, but "never felt crazy" (in contrast to her usual feelings), even if people disagreed.

She aLso experienced a "nice balance of being active and being not active." When she was not active, she didn't worry about what she should be doing (again in contrast to the norm). When she was active, she didn't worry about what she should be doing (again in contrast tothe norm). When she was active, she didn't worry about,"What's gonna happen when this ends?" She relates this feeling of balance to her practice of meditation during this tlme.

when I started meditating, I just got up and started doing things with a kind of gusto that I had never felt before.

This activity felt very "natural" and at most seemed to "happen to (her)." She didn't have to fight herself (per usual) [146] to become active. She says, "It was just a whole different way of belng alive."

Suzanne characterized her behavLor as "more decisive." She felt that everything she was doing seemed so "natural" and so "right," that she was not afraid her decisions were eliminating a lot of other possibilities. Thus, she felt freer to make decisions. There was one other-- more specific-- behavioral change: prior to this period, Suzanne had been overweight. She had been a compulsive eater. During this period, she found herself satisfied much more easily-- "a bite of something, if it tasted really good-- was enough."

A very unique type of visual perception was present.

If I was walking down the street and looking at people, I just was constantly amazed at how beautiful everybody was . . . . Everybody looked like a unique kind of painting to me-- kind or smooth . . . soft . . . glowing.

Things that would normally detract frcm a person's beauty-- "messiness," "bad skin," or an overweight condition-- did not make the person any less beautiful in Suzanne's eyes. During a trip to Florida, Suzanne "couldn't get over how beautiful" the water was. Lying on a boardwalk, she had a feeling like she was "making love to the sun." The whole environment brought out in her very womanly and sexual feelings. She related this sensatLon to the feeling a woman gets during her period-- "womanly," "earthy," "very heavy" but "with (your) feet on the ground."

[147] The thinking process also underwent some changes. Suzanne very much "enjoyed" thinking and was tremendously excited about learning in school. This was in striking contrast to her previous attitude towards learning, which was "being very nervous about remembering things and performing." She felt "very open" to a lot of information and different viewpoints. She was amazed at the fact that the material in all of her course work seemed to be related to material in all the other courses. It was llke "the whole world made sense to (her)." At the same time as she felt she "knew everything," she also felt she "knew nothing"-- and each of these made her "feel great." She felt that there were billions of different ways of looking at life and she was learning a few of them-- but all those ways led to the same realizations.

When I asked Suzanne about the meaning or significance of the experience to her, she replied,

It had so much meaning that I almost can't answer the question because I don't want to put it in a category . . . . This is what life is . . . . I feel like I've experienced a cosmic kind of thing, knowing or being part of the world-- or being the world-- whatever.

She said that this was one of the few times in her life when she wasn't questioning the reality of her experience. Normally, an experience that felt so totally good would have been questioned-- "How can this be real?"

There were two relationships with men during this period [148] which were also somewhat different from what Suzanne had been used to (or has been since). The first of these was with a "high school drop-out"-- a "very selfish and irresponsible kid." He was temporarily staying in Suzanne's apartment, which she shared with three other girls. Suzanne felt "motherly" and "protective" towards him. She defended him when the other girls got mad at him for playing records very loudly. They had a sexual relationship, but Suzanne stressed the fact that she wasn't "hung up" on him emotionally.

And I wasn't hung up that I wasn't hung up . . . . I knew he was going to leave very soon. I just felt kind of warm and charmed by him. I didn't get a big infatuation and I didn't feel I had to please him. I didn't feel I had to be adequate . . . (but) it was very enjoyable and I did feet adequate because of that.

Because he was such a "free spirit," Suzanne didn't feel like she had to worry about hurting him-- "he could handle himself." She felt their relationship was "playful" and that she allowed herself the luxury of being "selfish."

While she was in Florida for the Christmas vacation, Suzanne met a man in his 40's. While the first relationship was unique in how young the boy was, this relationship was the first time Suzanne ever had a sexual relationship with a man this old. He was married but he was in Florida alone. She spent a night with him in his trailer.

I felt very much like a woman with him. I felt articulate, I felt mature . . . I felt intelligent, [149] like there were things I could teach him, . . . not because he needed to learn it, . . . but because he seemed interested.

When her friends drove back to New England, Suzanne decided to stay a while longer in Florida. She stayed with the man.

I really didn't want to leave Florida. I felt that Florida was heaven . . . like I was born to live there.

Besides the self/other unity already mentioned, Suzanne experienced some other unifications of qualities, that are usually separate or in conflict. She felt objectivity and subjectivity. "were the same thing."

That concept of opposites being the same can be a scary thing when you're not in this frame of mind . . . . It's not only scary; it doesn't seem possible.

Thoughts and feelings were "very connected" and inseparable. Suzanne also seemed able to pull from the "masculine " and "feminine" poles-- she felt more like a "real woman" and less like a feminine stereotype. She didn't in any way feel "asexual." Finally, she states that this experience was a "cross" between the conscious and unconscious mind-- but neither one of them individually.

In the temporal dimension, Suzanne felt very much in the present without the usual worries about the future. Time was felt to be an ally rather than an adversary. There was enough time for everything that was really important.

[150] The end of the experience was "like a crash." Suzanne had a little trouble remembering the exact chronological sequence of events, but she knows that she stopped dancing, stopped meditating, and stopped eating macrobiotically. The end of the experience came very close to the end of her school career but Suzanne is not sure if that had anything to do with the crash. She does remember, however, a particular girl telling her that she was "arrogant" and possibly" selfish"-- and that this threw her off balance. She began feeling guilty about wanting the privacy necessary to continue meditating-- that she was closing herself off from people. Another manifestation of the end of this period was a feeling of guilt over eating certain foods-- for example, cheesecake. Before this, Suzanne was on the macrobiotic diet but allowed herself moderate deviations from it with no guilt feelings. Finally, she recalls the influence of her mother in bringing about the end of the experience:

I remember . . . a vacation during this period when I went home . . . . (My mother) kept saying, 'How can a person who is up all the time feel happy? That isn't what life is. Life is ups and downs, constant change because what is happiness without being unhappy?'

Suzanne felt very angry and frustrated with her mother's reaction. She is not absolutely certain this reaction was a cause for the experience ending, but it seemed to be related psychologically to the end. Suzanne stated, 'My mother [151] usually does have a lot to do with the end.' Suzanne felt that she herself had something to do with ending the experience but that "fate" played a part also.

"It's our power but at the same time it's fate."

We have already said how Suzanne saw the beginning of this experience unclearly in contrast to the "crash" at the end. She did, however, specify a very clear personality change from the prior period. Before this experience she saw herself as,

like the jester almost . . . Funny all the time . . . but also compulsively eating and also hating myself and being fat and feeling fat and ugly and feeling like people liked me but also . . . hated me and thought I was a fool.

After the experience ended, Suzanne went through a long period of depression and anxiety attacks. She started going to a psychiatrist right after she graduated. In spite of the pain of the aftermath, Suzanne feels it was better than what was before. Now she can accept the "bad" feelings much better and does not try to ward them off by acting the clown. She can cry when it hurts and feel "cleansed" and strong afterwards. In many ways, she has stopped fighting herself.

Suzanne feeLs that her present life has some simllarities to this experience, although the latter was more "overwhelming." She relates the feeling experienced then to both the feeling of having a perlod and also the feellng of orgasm:

[152] Not the physical part of the orgasm, but the part that goes through the head . . . the sameness of everything . . . . I also feel very much aware of my body and in that way I feel very separate.

She localizes these feelings in the "lower abdomen" which was also the site of the basis of action during the experience. In this latter connection, she felt that what was inside (specificallyr at that part of her body) was a part of, somehow vitally connected to, the outside world.

One effect of the total experience has been the effect on relationships previous to the experience. Suzanne rarelysees anyone she knew before the experience.

Most of them . . . I wish I could be frlends with them. I see them and I realLze that I really (can) not.

Wescott Pomeroy

[153] Corporate lawyer; mid 30's

Wescott Pomeroy described one of the most unusual experiences in this study. It occured in April of this year and lasted about three days. Wes quit his job on a Monday. On Wednesday, he and a frLend drove down to Pennsylvania where they were going to watch a gymnastics meet. In retrospect, even the driving was somewhat unusual. Usually, Wes would look at the mileage and after about 200 miles decide to rest. But this time he wasn't even conscious of the mileage-- "all of a sudden we were there and it was 6 1/2 hours later."

Wes. and his friend, Bob, were supposed to meet another friend, Norm, in Pennsylvania. Norm was not "where he was supposed to be"-- instead he was staying at the house of Mike and Wendy. Wes and Bob decided to meet Norm there. Wes feels the house definitely had something to do with the experience that took pLace there. It was a big, old, "hippie" house-- a house in which many types of people on many types of trips had lived. It was almost as if the house contained the "cumulative effect" of all their growth.

What happened at the house was a specific and quite unusual type of group experience involving all five people.

It just happened. Like all of us felt like we were drawn (there). These were five people that were there: two of us came together, two lived there, and the other person . . . knew the one person that I was with.

[154] In many ways, thls was a group of strangers for Wes-- he knew. only Bob before this experience.

Wes felt that there was an "energy flow" travelling through the house. This was obvious immediately in the way everyone seemed "in tune"-- or synchronous-- with one another. Much of the time was spent talking. If one person in the group had a thought or a feeling, the other people would have the same thought or feeling at the same time.

What was happening was the feeling was going around the room. The force was going around the room. The energy was going around the room and, as a result, we were all tuned into the same thing.

At one paint during the experience, Wes was reading from a book to two of the group-- the other two had gone to the store. When the two that had gone to the store returned, they were met by a hushed silence-- a reaction to what had been read.

The feeling existed in the room. It was really strong, really powerful.

Without anyone telling him, Mike "knew" what the others were feeltng. These experiences happened many times during the weekend. At the beginning, people "tested" each other to see if they were feeling or thinking the same thing, but when it became obvious they were, there was less need to test it.

"ESP" became an accepted fact. Another example that Wes gave of the synchronicity of events was the fact that people might [155] all go to bed at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning, one would wake up at 9:00, for example, and another would have just woken up. Within 15 minutes, the whole group was assembled again. The sense of synchronicity or "ESP" didn't transfer to people outslde the group.

Wes felt like he had entered a "different reality;"

I realized that I was just operating at a totally different level than I ever had before. My whole body, my whole mind, my whole soul was involved in this event. . . . We were all experiencing a reality that we had never experienced before and we were all experiencing it together.

The experience seemed to "open new doors" in Wes' consciousness.

Even though everyone was "sharing" the experience of a new reality, they all were experiencing it differently, each in his own way. At one point during a period of silence, for example, one of the people revealed he had been thinking about how an earlier topic of discussion-- the concept of a "social reality"-- affected him personally. He was thinking in terms of dealing with graduate school. Wes was amazed because at that moment he had been dealing with the same concepts but in terms of his life: thinking about his checking account, car, and other material possessions. The third and last person present, Wendy, had also been thinking about this concept-- but in terms of its impact on her as a woman.

One of the important consequences of this experience was [156] that Wes realized that each person has his own reality, instead of there being only one reality. "Reality" was seen as a "commonly accepted illusion"-- subject to change if one's perspectlve changed (which it did that weekend).

The group experience was intimately tied to the experience of alternate views of reality. Wes felt that although he knew very little about the "physicat lLves" of three of the people present (never having met them before); he knew a lot about them "in terms of where they are in life" (their inner selves). Letters Wes received from two of these people confirmed for him that their experience was as important and intense as his had been. Curiously, one of the group, Bob, Wes felt, didn't totally comprehend the group experience.

There were times when I noticed that Bob's behavior was what I considered strange . . .-- in terms of how all of us were relating to the group as a unit, and to each other, and to ourselves, Bob was relating differently at times . . . (although) most of the time he seemed right there.

Bob afterwards told Wes that he hadn't felt the group experience as strongly as he felt Wes had.

Durlng this experience, Wes felt more "like himself," less afraid to say what he was really feeling. He felt he could be anything-- he didn't have to be anything in particular. He would be accepted whatever he was. He related this to Don Juan's concept of "not doing"-- not doing the socially approved or accepted action.

[157] It was like all of a sudden I "not did." And a lot of people "not did" at the same time. And so it amounted to was a leap for all of us.

At one point during the weekend, everyone in the group took LSD; but only after the reality of the group experience had already been firmly established. Amazingly, the drug had little effect. Wes had no hallucinations. He also drove over 1 1/2 hours after having taken the acid. Wes felt that the "doors were already open"-- so the acid had little effect. On the acid, Wes and Mike played a game of trying to blend with their surroundings. Bob and Norm walked right by them without noticing them. That night (apparently after the acid had completely worn off) Wes tried the same tactic with someone else. Wes was the only person sitting on a bleacher-seat in a gynnasium after the gymnastics meet. A friend was nearby.

He was like on two steps below my feet. And he's looking all over for someone he knew. And he looked right by me! He just turned all around and went right over my head. He just looked all around me and didn't see me . . . .

Wes relates his feeling during the weekend to the satisfaction one feels after an orgasm:

There wasn't any physical sex, but there was sex. Like I got that sexual feeling, that satisfaction that I have had from sex. My mind was satisfied.

He also described some other very positive feelings:

[158] There was this whole thing inside of me. Like, ima- gine a whole other body within your body-- the exact same size as your body but inside you . . . and it's like a glow. It's like a marshmellow. It's that kind of puffiness . . . . It's just a real good warm feeling . . . . It's love . . . . Those were my feelings all weekend.

Wes felt the "inner glow" or "warmth" was more than metaphorical: Although the house they were in was unheated and the weather was cold, everyone felt physically warm.

When I asked Wes if his senses were affected during this experience, he told me:

I can't really answer that because I think a new sense in me developed by crossing the conscious / unconscious line. I think that became a new sense . . . . That wasn't one of the five . . . . It wasn't like my ears were hearing any better but I was hearing different. It wasn't like my eyes were seeing any better but I was seeing different . . . . I was actually aware of what I was doing . . . . It was like I was 'the one that watches' . . . . I was the overseer of my senses.

A very important aspect of this experience for Wes was a new awareness of his natural surroundings-- this was not just an "appreciation" of nature but a particular way of perceiving the interrelation between himself and happenings in nature. His new friend, Mike, taught him some of these ways of perceiving. Four of the group were in a Forest Reserve one afternoon:

I've never been there like I was able to be there then . . . just feeling myself totally at one with nature . . . . What was going on outside of me was also going on inside of me. I was a part of [159] that . . . . There was no question about it.

The outer / inner boundary had been shattered. Wes felt that his having a particular thought and a leaf falling off a tree at that exact moment were intimately, totally connected. They were meaningfully related ("synchronous" in Jung's definition). He felt that nature would provide him with "answers" to questions he might have if he was aware enough of his surroundings. He related this to Don Juan's teaching of Carlos Castaneda.

In the forest, the group had to cross a stream by means of a precarious tree limb. As Wes was crawling across, the branch gave way and he found himself falling. He immediately thought, he was not going to "try" to do anything-- he relaxed his body and the sagging branch stopped at that point.

The thing was that by doing that I went from within to without.

Only one person fe1l into the stream. Wes feels it was somewhat significant that that one person was Bob, the "outsider" in the group experience.

Everything during this experience seemed more "significant" to Wes-- and also more real in some ways. He felt that he was more "in the present," more "there," less in daydreams, fantasies, anticipations of the future, or nostalgias about the past.

Besides the "ESP"-type phenomena, Wes' thinking was [160] affected in some other ways. For one thing, he recovered many past memories-- for example, "little incidents that happened in little books that I had forgotten I even read." He not only remembered these instances, but they were meaningfully linked with what was happening in the present. He felt his "unconscious had been broken into," that his unconscious was becoming conscious, that there was "transference" between the conscious and the unconscious.

There were also quite a few other unifications of opposites or conflicts. Feelings and thoughts were experienced as much more connected and less separable. There was "no conflict" between being selfish and being selfless. Desires and values came together-- old values were "shattered." Actions felt both free and determined at the same time. He gave as an example their meeting at the house:

We were all pulled to the house. It was a free action on our part to go there but it was as if it had been pre-deterrnined.

There was also a change in the usual distinction between "masculine" and "feminine:"

There was nothing inside of me telling me I was a man or telling me I was a woman. What uas inside of me was that I was a person, and to me it transcended that. I see that as being trans-sexual . . . I think that's within me now . . . . There's no such thing as masculine and feminine.

Wes viewed the total experience as a "quantum leap" in [161] growth. He stresses the fact that he "wasn't trying to do anythlng"-- it just happened. Another way he views the experience and its aftermath is the following:

There is a self that is me and part of that self that's me is tied into something that's greater than me. And that's a door right now that's closed to a certain extent. It gets more and more open every day.

He sums up the experience still another way:

Everything that ever happened in life for me was all pushed through the eye of a needle and the eye of the needle was that weekend.

Some of the intensity of the experience, as weLl as the group phenomena ended, when Wes left Pennsylvania. However, he feels that the essential aspects of the experience have not ended. Immediately after he left Pennsylvania, he started trying to intellectually figure out what had happened to him and the others. He "tied himself up in knots" before he realized this attempt was doomed to failure. He started to relax and to simply observe the effects the experience had on his life.

There were many "results " of this experience in Wes' life. He feels he has become more open with many people, "like (he's) never experienced before." He's more honest about his feelings and less worried about what others will think of him. He's less selfconscious.

[162] I've never been able to be in a room with 30 people and "make out" standing up, and not feel self-conscious . . . . But now I'm able to open myself up in terms of experiencing the whole of it.

He still sees the world in a "new perspective." He gets "messages" from certain songs or records or in certain books-- messages that confirrn his new worLd-views. He is more in the present; some of his past has been "erased;" the future is of less concern to him and it's also less certain. This lack of certainty carries with it certain feelings of "awe" or even a type of "fear." Wes is taking steps to become more aware of both his feelings and his body-- he talks much more than ever before with close friends about his feelings; he has done things like taking a day-long seminar in foot-massage to learn more about his body. He is becoming much more aware of "habits" or patterns that have kept him in bondage-- his awareness of these have led to changes over time in some cases. He is looking inside himself for answers now, rather than outside himself Wes also spoke about a very specific change in the area of his sexuality.

I never really made love to anyone until last week. And I never knew that I'd never made love to anyone . . . . I've had ejaculations but I never had an orgasm-- . . . body, mind, and spirit . . . just exploding or uniting together.

Wes still feels "confined in certain situations"-- especially when he's around people whom he knew before the experience. He finds it "difficult to be different from what [163] (he) was."

This experience has had some very profound philosophical implications. The first is that Wes sees life as a "process," now as opposed to "being (in) finite units." He doesn't feel this process leads to a certain point-- it's never ending. The second major implication is that life is a paradox. Wes wants to live "within the paradox" rather than trying to resolve things as being either X or Y.

The only mistake you can make is to resolve the issue . . . . You want to live with the paradox. As you do that things become less and less critical. 'What difference does it make? It's not the right question!' No matter where we started-- no matter what book, what statement-- we always come back to that.


[164] It became obvious during the course of this study that many of the prolonged positive experiences being discussed had several elements in common. Some of these elements were a confirmation of my a priori abstraction of this state (given on pages 52-3). Others were additions to that picture. Some elements were characteristLc of one or more people's experiences but were minimal or totally lacking in others'.

In this chapter, I will compare and contrast the different experiences explored in the last chapter in terms of some of the dimensions found to be most relevant to understanding the experiences. I will also relate the findings to relevant literature in this chapter.


There was wideopread variability of duration in experiences. The following table gives the duration of each person's experience:

Angela Rimband 9-10 months (on-going at time of interview) Peter O'Donnell 2 1/2 months Craig Postman 5-7 days ("core" experience); overall experience --several months Emllia Kinkaid 5 days [165] Janice Darrow over one year Lilian Krackow 3-4 days Singh Ramur approximately 3 years (on-going at time of interview) Jamy Bryerson 2 1/2 months Anne Watson 7 days Suzanne Nervi 5 months Westcott Pomeroy 2 1/2-3 days

One surprislng commonality was the relative ease with which most people were able to mark the 'boundaries' of their experience: it began at a specific time and (if it was over at the time of the interview) it ended at a specific time. The only exceptions to this were Craig Postman who felt the end of his experience "just sort of trailed off" and Suzannne Nervi who had difficulty remembering exactly when her experience began. The duration of these experiences places them somewhere between Maslow's momentary "peak experience" and permanent state of "self-actualization." Laski's term, "unitive state" would be applicable in terms of the duration of these experiences.


The location of the 11 experiences is given in the following listing [tnese are the true locations-- therefore, the informants' names are not given].

1) Massachusetts
2) Pennsylvania
3) Phoenix, Arizona
4) New Zealand
5) Big Sur, California
6) Montague, Massachusetts [166]
7) Leverett, Massachusetts
8) Massachusetts
9) Switzerland
10) Amherst, Massachusetts
11) Cambridge, Massachusetts and Key West, Florida

The natural features of the location were emphastzed in several of the interviews. Two of the people felt the locations of their experiences (Big Sur, California and Phoenix, Arizona) were very important in determining the experience. Big Sur was called a "magic place" and Phoenix was thought to have some special characteristics because of the Indians who once lived in that area. The ocean played some role in four of the experiences (especially emphasized in Lilian Krackow's experience). Emilia Kinkaid felt most at peace alone in the woods. Anne Watson very much focused on the natural surroundings (especially the mountains) in her description, while Jamy Bryerson's experience was connected with being near the desert. It shou}d be recalled in this context that one of the "triggers" for "ecstatic" experiences in Laski's analysis was nature-- especially mountains and the sea.

Prior Period

The most common characteristics of the period preceeding the actual positive experience were subjectively negative: anxiety, depression, conflict, frustration.

Peter O'Donnell at law school was "physically and mentally exhausted;" Craig Postman went through a paranoid [167] period before his experience and also felt "crazy and depressed" at times. Emilia Kinkaid was feeling frustrated in her relatlonship with a man and having some extreme conflicts at the hospital where she worked. Janice Darrow was feeling very depressed, isolated and overly dependent on the man she was living with. Lilian Krackow had gone through a depression, learned she had cancer, and had to endure several operations and a month in a cancer ward. Singh Ramur was "not fulfilled" and had some emotional problems before he came to the ashram. Anne Watson had been travelling with a girl friend whom she was becoming increasingly annoyed with. Suzanne Nervi before her experience felt "manicky," "confused," "superficial," "like a jester" and wondered if people hated her.

The only informant who went into detail on the prior period and didn't stress many negative feelings was Angela Rimbaud. Her feeling was one of anticipation or "waiting."

Several theorists have postulated extreme negative feelings before a positive "break-through" experience. Jung wrote of "inner or outer fatalities" (1959); von Franz, of a "wounding of the pesonality" (in Jung, 1964) ; Maslow, of a "kind of death prior to rebirth, with consequent nostalgia, fear, loneliness, and mourning" (1964, p. 190); and James of "broodlng depression, morbid introspection, anxiety, and depression" (1967, p. 167). Jung felt such feelings were necessary to motivate the person towards growth, a manifestation of which is the positive experience. The "Death-Rebirth" analogy is also very applicable: before the emergence of a [168] new personality, the old one must 'die' and that usually involves some degree of pain and suffering. Lilian Krackow used this very analogy in describing her experience.


The onset of every one of these experiences can be seen as involving some sort of change from the prior period. In most cases, this change involved some rearrangement of the external environment. In the two cases in which primary focus was put upon internal changes, the external environment was also involved (as will be seen). There were three types of situations associated with the onset of these experiences:

1) A change in physical location-- this figured in seven of the 11 experiences: Peter O'Donnell left hls school and hitched 600 miles to Tobernie; Emilia Kinkaid went to a growth center in California; Janice Darrow left Europe and returned to the United States; Lilian Krackow left the hospital cancer ward and went to her sister-in-law's house by the ocean; Singh Ramur came to the ashram in Massachusetts; Jamy Bryerson left New England and went out to New Mexico; Westcott Pomeroy left New England and went to Pennsylvania. In each of these experiences, the onset seemed to coincide or nearty coincide with the person's arrival in the new environment. Feelings of anticipation or excitement often pervaded the actual arrival. It will be remembered that Laski (1961) had listed a change of location (especially "holidays") [169] as a possible occasion for a "unitive state." The change of location was associated in some of these cases with a feeling of relief or escaping an oppressive situation. This was especially true in the experience of Peter O'Donnell, Emilia Kinkaid and Janice Darrow.

2) Meeting someone whom the person had not known before-- this type of experience was associated with the onset of five of the experiences (there was overlap with the above category in three of these cases): Peter O'Donnell met Hamilton and Rogers for the first time when he arrived at Tobernie; Emilia Kinkaid met Drake when she arrived at the Gestalt group; Jamy Bryerson met Wilma when she learned they shared an office the first day she worked in the hospital; Anne Watson met Claude at a hostel in Germany; Wescott Pomeroy met Norm Mike, and Wendy for the first time when he arrived at the house in Pennsylvania.

In most of these cases, there was an immediate, intuitive feeling of a type of closeness that usually must await the passage of some superficial preliminaries. Peter O'Donnell "immediately liked " Hamilton and Rogers; Jamy Bryerson felt a certainty that she and Wilma would be very close-- she felt a "spark"-- within the first 10 minutes; Wescott Pomeroy felt a unique type of communication between himself and his new friends almost, immediately. Emilia Kinkaid felt "extremely close" to Drake in a few hours of watching him work. Laski (1961) had mentioned a love relationship as one [170] possible occasion for a unitive state and "intimate conversation or contact" had been listed as a possible trigger for an ecstatic experience. These meetings remind one of the 'I-Thou' encounter described by Buber (1958; see my page 29).

3) There is a third type of change which is more unusual and more difficult to briefly generalize. However, surprisingly, there were two examples of such an onset in this study and they had distinct similarities. We may characterize the aspects of this type of onset;

a) The person is actively involved in withdrawal from the normal external environment-- Craig Postman was involved in meditation at the time of onset, while Angela Rimbaud was deeply immersed in prayer. Ornstein (1972) states that the original purpose of prayer, like that of meditation, was experiential, and, in fact, had a function similar to meditation-- the conscious withdrawal from routine thoughts and perceptions in order to allow another dimension of consciousness to emerge.

b) communication with a deep level of the person's consciousness, in both these cases, occurred during the withdrawal exercise. For Angela it was the first time prayer meant "really having a dialogue." This dialogue was between her ego (or "self") and Christ (which is identical with the "true self" for her). In this dialogue, it will be [171] remembered, she made a specific request-- to be able to love people she normally couldn't feel love for. Craig, during meditation, became engaged in an "internal dialogue" with the "kind of guru who never answers"-- an old wise man, who had earlier appeared in a dream. He asked this teacher some questions.

c) The deep level of the person's consciousness (Christ for Angela and the 'teacher' for Craig) is experienced by the person as 'answering' the request or question through means of the environment. The environment for Angela produced K.-- who was to become exceptionally close to her-- a "dramatic answer to (her) specific request." Craig's environment would "immediately answer" the questions he half jokingly asked his internal 'teacher'. This correspondence of internal and external events is "synchronicity" in Jung's terms (1996d). I will reserve a more detailed discussion of this type of phenomena for the section entitled, "psychic phenomena."

Diekman (in Tart, 1969) used the concept, "deautomatLzation" to characterize the meditation procedure: normal abstract thoughts are inhibited and replaced by a receptive perceptional mode. This mode is characterized as more "primitive'-- similar to the perceptual and cognitive functioning of children and primitive people. It is not uncommon for [172] children to hold dialogues with "invisible friends" but for normal, healthy adults, this is rare, to say the least. (Craig Postman had thought to himself, "You're out of your mind, you know").

I don't think there is any way to 'explain' the onset of these experiences, to the extent that knowing certain variables we might predict or actually voluntarily bring about such an experience. I do think we are in a position to say that certain external situations appear more favorable than others-- for example, a change in physical location. When the favorable external situation coincides with a receptive internal situation-- perhaps occasioned by a period of suffering, trying to consciously "solve" conflicts, and an eventual "surrender" to higher powers, the result may be such an experience. Or we could argue that the "surrender" or giving up of effort produces a sort of vacuum that must be filled-- and since the old way no longer works, a new way must arise. If this new way truly derives from the deeper levels of one's own personality (the "true self" in Jung's terms), the resulting experience will be felt psychologically as being "more oneself," "truer to oneself"-- descriptions which many of the people in this study used when talking about their experiences.

Another condition which apparently must be met for this type of experience to occur is a confrontation with pain in the prior situation. Deadening onself to this pain keeps it [173] from motivating the person to grow beyond it-- perhaps producing some sort of neurotic stalemate or vicious cycle. Openness to one's own pain appeared to be necessary for growth in these experiences.

Characteristics of the State Itself

Activity. Basically, people in this period performed many of the same actions that they usually would. However, the informants did stress certain types of action as playing a large part in characterizing their experience.

The most prevalent type of activity mentioned was physical activity-- in several cases there was a heightened awareness of the body, especially in motion. Peter O'Donnell's experience involved heavy physical labor (construction), much walklng, a large amount of sexual activity, and swimming; Emilia Kinkaid felt highest walking in the woods-- she was also very much in touch with her body due to the Gestalt workshop; Singh Ramur focused on physical work and on the practice of yoga; Jamy Bryerson's work at the hospital involved a particularly acute awareness of the body as well as considerable physical involvement; Anne Watson hiked and climbed in the mountains while travelling; Suzanne Nervi emphasized the fact that she was taking dancing lessons for the duration of her experience; Wescott Pomeroy mentioned walking in the woods as an integral part of his experience; Angela Rimbaud often feels highest when doing yoga.

[174] A type of activity related to physical movement (and, in a way, subsumed under it) was engaging in types of therapy-- either as a client or as a therapist-- focusing on the body. There was an unusually high degree of such activity in this group: both Craig Postman and Emilia Kinkaid were clients in a Gestalt workshop; Lilian Krackow had been in movement therapy prior to her experience and closely linked the two experiences psychologically; and Jamy Bryerson was involved in being a movement therapist as well as being a 'student' of Wilma's.

There was a relatively high incidence of meditation in this group: Craig Postman, Singh Ramur (yogi meditation); Suzanne Nervi (transcendental meditation); Angela Rimbaud yogi meditation, as well as an experiential form of prayer very similar to meditation). Although Lilian Krackow did not call what she did "meditation," some of her activity, especially sitting and watching the ocean, seemed very related. One of the long-term effects of meditation is the dishabituation of the "normal" (usual) responses to stimuli in the environment (Ornstein, 1972). Thus, it is possible that in some of the experiences in this group, the activity of meditating was at least in part responsible for some of the sensory phenomena.

Three people in the study mentioned drug usage-- Craig Postman (hashish), Suzanne Nervi (marijuana or T.H.C), and Wescott Pomeroy (LSD). In no case was it felt to have been [175] primarlly responsib1e for the experience. It may be seen as simply one avenue of self-exploration engaged in by people who are on a voyage of discovery.

It is interesting to note that only two people in the study-- Peter O'DonnelL and Jamy Bryerson-- were working "straight" (9:00 to 5:00) jobs during their experience. In both cases, the work experience was heavily modified by the presence of very significant others (the three others in the 'group' with Peter; Wilma to Jamy). Peter pointed out that in his 'normal' work (in an engineering firm)-- in which there are responsibilities and clients to worry about, such an experience would be impossible. Jamy mentioned that the most significant part of her experience with Wilma occurred after work-- when they could, in private, explore some of the implications of the day's work. Jamy also stated the difficulty of maintaining the positive state of consciousness once she returned to the East and "got caught up in schedules." It would appear, then, that the organized work world is essentially inimicable to these types of experience. The break-up of time ("scheduling") and the heavy feelings of responsibility often associated with work are particularly counter-productive to this type of state. Each draws one's attention away from the present moment-- either in the memory of past situations or in the anticipation of future ones.

Relationship With Others

[176] One of the most interesting aspects of these prolonged positive experiences was the manner in which people having such an experience related to other people. Three dominant themes emerged in the discussion of relationships: 1) a sense of freedom-- to be with another or not to be with another at any particular time; to express oneself freely without worrying about another's feelings; and to just "be" oneself without feeling a pressure to conform to the expectations of others; 2) a feeling of intimacy in primary relationships, often after very little contact with another; 3) in less central relationships, a more relaxed, tolerant, playful attitude.

The dominant theme was that of freedom. People in this state felt the freedom of choosing who they would relate to and when they would relate. Craig Postman was very conscious of a feeling of "space." He would choose to talk to a person in a workshop one night, and a person on the staff of the growth center another night. He could also choose to be alone-- he emphasized the need for privacy as central to this experience. Emilia Kinkaid also felt very free "to be with or to be separate." In the relationship with the man who was her massage partner she felt the freedom to say 'No', when the question of sexual involvement arose.

Another type of freedom stressed was the freedom of expression. People during this experience felt more free to [177] express what they really felt or thought. Peter O'Donnell's speech was more 'uncontrived" than ever before (or since). What "(he) thought (he) said." He was less worried about hurting anyone's feelings than usual, yet, he feels he said very little that was meant to hurt anyone's feelings because he felt so content himself. Lilian Krackow felt more free to express whatever she was feeling-- verbally or non-verbally. Suzanne Nervi emphasized the fact that her speech was much less censored than usual-- she was more interested in conveying her thoughts than she was worried about how they would sound. As a result, she felt that she was more successfuf in getting across to another the image of herself she felt was real. Wescott Pomeroy emphasized the fact that with the others in the group he could "cut through the normal social bulLshit" very quickly-- it wasn't necessary. Janice Darrow felt she carried honesty to the point of "bluntness," and had no use for "social chit chat."

Along with being able to say what one feels about another, seems to come an increased ability to accept what another feels about oneself. Peter O'Donnell's feelings were not hurt by his friend's observation about his jeans-- or by another friend's criticism of the way he sneezed (he felt that he normally would have taken offense). Jamy Bryerson felt very open to observations made by Wilma about her body, movement, breathing, that would seem threatening to some people. Singh Ramur does not feeL threatened or offended if [178] someone criticizes his turban, clothes, or long hair.

The last type of freedom spoken about was the freedom "to do" or "to be oneself." Peter O'Donnell feels he lived a "far truer" life then than ever before. He has a hard time understanding now how he felt so unselfconscious while he was dancing, singing, drinking, and picking up women in bars. But he does know that he never felt like he had to live up to any particular expectations with the others in the group. In Wescott Bomeroy's experience, he states:

I never felt I had to be anything special. I didn't have to be a clown . . . . I didn't have to be a businessman . . . . I didn't have to be anything. I just could be whaever I am.

Travelling with Claude, Anne Watson felt no pressure of the past and no pressure for any particular future. She felt comfortable and at ease just being herself. She felt "more like (herself)" than at other times. Emilia Kinkaid felt safe and secure enough with Drakes's strength and honesty that she "could let go."

He would be in touch with me if I needed to let go and I didn't have to have any games to cover up the inside of me.

With Wilma, Jamy Bryerson felt no need to "accomodate, adjust, or be careful." She felt like the more she could be herself, the more she would be loved. She emphasized the fact that Wilma's "appreciation" of her qualities allowed her to "be [179] herself" more fully.

A second major theme that evolved from the interviews was that of intimacy-- very deep feelings of closeness and inter- personal communication of a very "real" sort. Peter O'Donnell felt his frlendship with Brighton, Hamilton, and Rogers was probably the "heaviest friendship of (his) life." He had a "real affection" for the others. Emilia Kinkaid felt "very close" to Drake-- during her long talks with him she sensed his aloneness and felt she gave to him as well as received. Lilian Krackow's relationships with her relatives during her convalescence were "more intense and more personal"-- especially with her sister-in-law, who was caring for her physical needs. A unique aspect of Lilian's relationships during this period was that she learned to accept care from others-- she had previously been used to only giving it. Jamy Bryerson felt that her relationship with Wilma was "the most important in (her) life." It was characterized by exceptional closeness and intimacy to the point where they experienced "extrasensory phenomena" (ESP) with each other to a very large degree. Their intimacy also had an element of play in it-- whether it was sharing thoughts or specific activities. An element of equality was also present: Jamy was able to 'translate' into verbal concepts some of Wilma's non-verbal intuitions or perceptions; Wilma was able to teach Jamy much about the body and the non-verbal realm. Wescott Pomeroy, during his group experience, felt like he knew very well the inner [180] lives-- "where they are in life"-- of Norm, Mike and Wendy. As with Jamy Bryerson and Wilma, this relationship was so close that often words didn't have to be spoken for one person to know what another was thinking or feeling. Again, this was identified as an "ES" phenomenon.

A particular type of relationshlp that developed in two cases-- those of Peter O'Donnell and Wescott Pomeroy-- a commonly shared group experience-- is of particular interest. Before undertaking this study, I seriously doubted that a prolonged positive experience of the type I described could take place within a group simultaneouslv to more than one person. This appears to have happened in these two cases. It is useful to note, however, that in one of these two cases (Peter O'Donnell), no personal growth was experienced as a result of the group's phenomena. The other case (Wescott Pomeroy ) also left me with some doubt about the degree to which the experience was personally integrated-- the interview with Wes seemed to be one of the most "fragmented" in many ways. These observations would fit with Jung's view of group-experienced periods of growth (although he appears to be thinking primarily of larger groups):

To experience transformation in a group and to experience it in oneself are two totally different things. If any considerable group of persons are united and identified with one another by a particular frame of mind, the resultant transformation experience bears only a very remote resemblance to the experience of individual transformation. A group experience takes place on a lower level of [181] consciousness than the, experience of an individual. This is due to the fact that, when many people gather together to share one common emotion, the total psyche emerging from the group is below the level of the individual psyche . . . . That is why the group's experience is very much more frequent than the individual experience of transformation [he probably means very short-term group phenomena in terms of frequency]. It is also much easier to achieve, because the presence of so many people together exerts greater suggestive force (Jung, 1959a, p. 125-126).

Whether the type of group experience which occurred to the two people in this study is, in general, a less integrated experience of growth, remains to me an open question. There is some evidence in this study to show that it was less integrated-- especially in Peter O'Donnell's case in which he admitted there was absolutely no carry-over from the experience.

An interesting side-road to the group phenomenon is the fact that in each of the groups, there were four major participants and one person, a "fifth member," who remained psychologically outside the experience. I will only mention the fact that Jungian psychology stresses the importance of the occurrence of certain numbers-- the number "four" is especially indicative of "wholeness," of "completion" (v. Franz, in Jung, 1969).

Most people were able to experience both intimacy and freedom during these periods. There was one case in which these two aspects of living were in conflict. Immediately after Janice Darrow returned from Europe, she shunned any type [182] of emotlonal involvement, especially with men. In the second semester, however, she did get involved with a man. This relationship lasted for a while but then Janice began to feel restricted. Her independence was more important to her than the relationship, so she ended the "heavy" involvement.

Perhaps one reason that freedom and intimacy could co-exist in most of these experiences is that the intimacy was of a sort that allowed a lot of space for other relationships or activities. The intimacy in most cases was a shared experience of a particular point in time-- and not seen as a demand for all time. Many of the intimate experiences were of short duration-- people left each other-- most with an open-ended attitude about the future. Peter O'Donnell never saw Roger and Hamilton again; Emilia Kinkaid left Drake; Jamy left Wilma; Claude Left Anne Watson; Wescott Pomeroy left Norm, Mike, and Wendy. Two of these people, Emilia Kinkaid and Jamy Bryerson, were thinking of recapturing at Least part of their experience. Shortly after the interviews, each was leaving on a journey to see the person they had come to know during their experience: Emilia to be in a month-long workshop with Drake in California and Jamy to go to live with Wilma in New Mexico.

The third major theme that emerged from the interviews with regard to relationships had to do with those relationships that were less central to a person's life at the time of the experlence . We might call these "peripheral" [183] relationships. Most people found themselves more tolerant, easy-going, and "playful" in these relationships. Angela Rimbaud felt more accepting, more tolerant and less judgmental of people who were not central in her life. Peter O'Donnell felt much more tolerant of others than he ever had before (or since) in his life. While travelling, Anne Watson met people of many nationalities and felt with most of them a basic commonality of experience-- due to their "humanity" or "peopleness"-- which transcended national boundaries.

An interesting exception to this increased tolerance for others was Janice Darrow who found herself less tolerant of some people-- especially people who, like herself previous to this experience, were bored with, or apathetic towards, learning. She felt that her isolation-- occasioned in part by the conflict she felt between "independence" and "closeness"-- allowed this intolerance to remain unchallenged.

The attitude of casualness and playfulness carried over into sexual relationships. Several people were able to thoroughly enjoy sexual relationships without any of the agony sometimes occasioned by heavy emotional involvement.

Peter O'Donnell, for the first time in his life enjoyed a very carefree, "natural" sexual relationship with the nurse without any restrictions, expectations of fidelity, expectations about the future, or emotional entanglements. Emilia Kinkaid's one-night "affair" had no lasting repercussions on the rest of her life-- mostly it was just fun. Suzanne Nervi [184] was "not hung up emotionally" on her high school drop-out friend, nor was she "hung up that she wasn't hung up." Jamy Bryerson's experience was especially significant in that, in her relationship with Wilma, there were elements of both playfulness and seriousness, transiency and durability.

Most of the characteristics of the people in these experiences (with regard to their relationships) are similar (or identical with) characteristics Maslow ascribed to "self-actualizing" people: "increased acceptance of others; increased spontaneity; increased detachment and desire for privacy; greater richness of emotional reaction; increased identity with the human species; improved interpersonal relationships" (1962, pp. 23-29). However, it is also important to state that a person may be experiencing an otherwise very positive state and at the same time experiencing the opposite of one or more of these characteristics (for example, Janice Darrow's increased intolerance of certain people while in the midst of an otherwise very positive state).


Some of the most uniform findings in this study related to feelings experienced during the positive period. Most of the feelings described were, of course, positive-- the manner in which I defined the type of experience I was looking for was certainly at least partially responsible for this. Many of the positive feelings could be grouped into two [185] main categories (after Tomkin's [1962] breakdown): 1) interest-excitement and 2) enjoyment-joy. In the first category were mentioned such feelings as being excited about learning, feeling very "alive," feeling a "vibrant excitement," feeling "ecstatic," or "euphoria" and feeling a "sense of adventure" in taking some risks. In the second category were mentioned such feelings as "peacefulness," "total absence of tension and anxiety," "relief," "total sense of well-being," a "feeling of balance," "confidence," feeling "whole," the feeling that "everything is O.K.," feelings of "satisfaction"-- "similar to sexual satisfaction;" feelings of "relaxation," feeling "smooth," "happiness" and "joyfulness." The second category seemed to predominate in the descriptions to some extent, although most people mentioned both types of feelings.

Two feelings that were consistently mentioned were a feeling of freedom and feelings of love. Wescott Pomeroy felt a new "freedom to breath" during his group experience. Angela Rimbaud felt the sense of love "coming from everywhere"-- "life floating on a warm ocean." Emilia Kinkaid felt more "compassionate" than usual with the people in the workshop. Singh Ramur felt more "loving" towards everyone since his experience began. Wes described the love feelings as an "inner glow" and "like a marshmellow" inside his body-- "a real good warm feeling."

Most of the people in the study also described some negative feelings during this experience, Angela Rimbaud felt [186] she had to go through heavy negative feelings at times in order to continue to grow. These were experienced as part of the total growth process. Peter O'Donnell felt a little anxious at the start of his experience while he was trying to decide what fieLd to enter-- these feelings left entirely after about a week. Craig Postman felt sad and loneIy at times but "not particularly agonized." He may have had some feelings of paranoia-- but if so, they were much more tied to his physical condition (and had some reality basis) than were previous paranoid episodes. Janice Darrow felt intolerant of others at times and also felt "restricted" in her one "heavy" relationship during this period. Lilian Krackow felt "some discomfort" about her brother's attitudes towards her lover. Jamy Bryerson had some conflict feelings while in contact with her parents, but she learned how to handle these. In general, the negative feelings were very minimized during the entire experience. In some cases, the experience of "negative" feelings was thought to be essential to growth.

One feeling was described by only one person in the study-- Suzanne Nervi-- but it seemed so important, I will mention it here. Suzanne, during a particularly reckless car drive with some friends, felt a sense of ecstasy to the extent that she experienced a loss of the fear of death-- perhaps an acceptance of death, at least for a brief time. Unfortunately, I did not ask any other people in the study if [187] they had experienced a similar feeling. Lilian Krackow did state that before her experience she had to confront the possibility of her own death by cancer. Both Don Juan and the Zen Masters stressed the importance of the confrontation with, and acceptance of, one's own death. Don Juan's description of the encounter:

Death has two stages. The first is a blackout. It is a meaningless state . . . . It soon vanishes and one enters a new realm, a realm of harshness and power . . . . (This) second stage is the real stage where one meets with death; it is a brief moment, after the first blockout, when we find that we are, somehow, ourselves again. It is then that death smashes against us with quiet fury and power until it dissolves our lives into nothing (Castaneda, 1971, p. 237).

The Zen Masters' description of the 'correct' mental attitude towards life included the consciousness of one's own death (Kapleau, 1967), Jung, in a small essay, "The soul and Death" (1969b), expressed the opinion that shrinking from death is unnatural-- that it is indicative of a person who has not l ived fully-- of someone who needs more "time " in order to really live. I would expect that the type of experience being focused on in this study could make one more conscious of the fact of one's death and could possibly change one's stance towards that fact.


Both the process of thinking and the content of thinking were generally altered during these experiences.

[188] Several people experienced a "quieting" of their mind during this period: there was less "internal talk." Angela Rimbaud experienced periods of "silence," Emilia Kinkaid of "calmness," Jamy Bryerson of "no thought." Thoughts were often experienced as "clearer"-- not as jumbled or contradictory. Emilia described her thoughts as "slowed down," in comparison to the normal "hurrying" or "rushing" going on inside her head. Thinking was often less disconnected from other aspects of behavior-- such as speaking or feeling. Peter O'Donnell said that whatever he had thought about he said (there was very little censorship of thought).

The process of thinking was also changed in other ways. Several people felt that thinking was more efficient when they were really concentrating on something. Jamy Bryerson was amazed at how easily she could pick up complicated neuroanatomy books and comprehend them; Janice Darrow was in her intellectual "prime;" Suzanne Nervi felt much more "intelligent" than usual. Along with increased efficiency to "absorb" new connections between normally very disparate topics, Suzanne was amazed how all of her school courses seemed relevant to each other-- she felt like "the whole world made sense to (her)." Jamy found memories from graduate school and from childhood connecting logically with things she was reading about in neuro-anatomy. In this latter instance, new connections were facilitated by the recovery of long forgotten memories, an emergence of material once unconscious. In [189] Wescott Pomeroy's experience, a recovery of such memories-- some from little books that (he) had forgotten (he) had read" also occurred. This recovery of forgotten material represents one level of a collaboration of the conscious and the unconscious. Jung felt that only through such a confrontation and collaboration could the process of individuation take place (1969e).

Another characteristic change in the thinking process was towards more "playful" thoughts. Jamy Bryerson and Wilma enjoyed "stringing thoughts together to see where they would go." Suzanne Nenri found herself much more enjoying the actual process of thinking-- rather than worrying about the finished product.

There were some more dramatic changes in the thinking process. Several people reported increased visual imagery in thinking and a decrease in verbal abstractions. Lilian Krackow's visual imagery was "heightened tremendously;" Craig Postman's imagery was "much more vivid." He had a sense of "thinking visually rather than verbally . . . attending to the images and not tacking on words." Lilian's increase in imagistic thinking came at the same time as a decreased ability to handle very complex thoughts-- especially abstract ones. She had, for example, extreme difficulty in remembering names. Craig's thinking at this time possessed a quality of drama-- the ideas were represented in his head as a play being acted out. This reminds one of Angera Rimbaud's change [190] in thinking from abstract "concepts" to "stories." This type of thinking is more "primitive" but, in some ways, more lively than the usual thinking in abstract verbal concepts. Ornstein (1972) relates such thinking to the right hemisphere of the brain-- the more intuitive, sensuous, receptive, experiential side. This is the mode of perceiving and thinking awakened through most meditation procedures. Craig and Angela had both been meditating in a formal sense. Lilian had been "meditating" on the ocean and its changes throughout the day in a less formal sense. Apparently, the shock she had experienced with her operation was, in fact, responsible for the slow-up of the normal intellectual functioning-- which allowed the latent mode of consciousness to express itse!f.

A final change in the thinking process occurred during Wescott Pomeroy's experience. Contrary to some of the other experiences (especially Emilia Kinkaid's), Wes felt that his thinking was speeded up, in part due to the tremendous amount of input being received from the others undergoing a similar experience.

Besides the changes in the process of thinking, there were also some changes in the content. Some people experienced much "simpler" thoughts than usual. Peter O'Donnell is certain he didn't think about any intellectual, philosophical, or abstract ideas during his experience. He thought mostly about very simple things: friendship, women, drinking, eating, jokes. Some other characteristics af the content of [191] some people's thoughts were: less future-oriented thoughts, less worries, less violent thoughts (stressed especially by Singh Ramur), and more "positive" thoughts (stressed by both Janice Darrow and Singh). Janice felt her thoughts during this period were "more realistic" and more her own-- as opposed to introjected but unassimilated "in" ideas.

In several people's experiences, dreams played an important role. Craig Postman's 'teacher' was an old man who had previously appeared in a dream. Angela Rimbaud's two dreams concerning the union of masculine and feminine aspects convinced her that these aspects were becoming less polarized in her life during her experience. Retated to her dream is Jung's hypothesis that the "self" is represented in dreams as either a bisexual being (the hypothesized third dream in Angela's sequence) or as a "divine, royal, or otherwise distinguished couple" (v. Franz, in Jung, 1964, p. 204). Lilian Krackow's dreams and fantasies about herself being united with the ocean played a large part in determining her state of consciousness during this period.

[Aspects of thinking related to 'psychic; phenomena will be discussed in a special section.]


Behavior for most people during these experiences was harmonious and 'balanced'. As Suzanne Nervi put it, "a nice balance of being active and being not active." There was [192] neither too much activity nor too much passivity.

To attain such a balance, old patterns of behavior based on old patterns of perceiving and thinking had to be broken. Here it is impossible to separate the perceptual component of being from the behavioral. Change involves both-- often simultaneously. Don Juan's technique of "not doing" was employed by several people. People "not did" what they normally do due to a changed perception of reality (or vice versa). Often this change took the form of "not doing" the normal socially-expected behaviors in communication with others. This was possible primarily when the degree of trust and openness in a relationship allowed people to dispense with these often superficial and 'peripheral' (in Allport's terms) rituals. Another form of "not doing" is breaking habitual patterns of behavior based on preconceived time schedules ("eat lunch at 1:00; sleep at 12:00," etc.). several people mentioned changes in this direction.

As a result of "not doing," behavior was generally more spontaneous, uncontrived, and relaxed, less determined by long-range goals or desires, and, in general, more 'natural'. Peter O'Donnell did what he felt like doing-- even if it meant getting fired for swimming while he was supposed to be working. He said what he was feeling without censoring it. Taking care of bodily necessities (such as eating and sleeping) more often followed his body's actual rhythm and less often followed a preconceived "schedule." Craig Postman also [193] mentioned the "rhythm" to his movement through the day. Many people mentioned a new found "freedom" of movement (Wescott Pomeroy mentioned the "freedom to breath"). In some cases, this could be seen to be at least partially due to the external situation-- many of the experiences occurred during a "time-out" from the usual hectic schedules of modern living. Angela Rimbaud's most intense experiences often occurred at the monastery; Peter O'Connell was in a "non-worry" job (he didn" care if he got fired or not since it was only temporary); Craig Postman and Emilia Kinkaid were in therapy workshops; Lilian Krackow was recuperating from her operation at the ocean, Anne Watson was travelling in Switzerland and Wes Porneroy was essentially "on vacation." Many of these people experienced a change during this period in the direction of slowing themselves down, taking a rest, becoming less active. The balance had previously gone too far in the active direction (Peter O'Donnell and Lilian Krackow had previously physically "exhausted" themselves from overwork; Craig Postman, Angela Rimbaud, and Emilia Kinkaid all stressed the freedom from "too many people" during this period). One result of slowing things down ("time stretching" in Jamy Bryerson's terms) was that a person had more time to play. Behavior became more playful. Emilia Kinkaid emphasized how much fun she had playing with one man in her therapy group-- pillow fights, "gymnastic type things," dancing in a very spontaneous and rhythmical way. Jamy Bryerson and Wilma played much of [194] their time together-- "dancing at shadows" was one favorite.

In people who had formerly been too passive (perhaps bored and apathetic), the new balance was more in the active direction. This was true for both Janice Darrow and Suzanne Nervi, who discovered a new pleasure in being active. Both got turned on to learning for perhaps the first time since they were children. Janice felt very 'productive', in contrast to the usually over-active people who felt best just 'being' and not producing anything. Interestingly, Janice was perhaps the only person in the study to emphasize the positive value of structure and of a regularly scheduled routine during her experience, in contrast to the usual emphasis on the freedom from structure and routine. The idea of a balance reconciles what might have otherwise appeared to be a contradiction. Whatever one had to do (or "not do") in order to attain a balance of movement more in keeping with the rhythm of his or her body-- this generally occurred during these experiences.

In a few cases, behavior was very rnuch 'simplified'. Anne Watson just walked, climbed a little, and ate-- not much else. Lilian Krackow, after her operation, was incapable of any but the simplest actions-- anything else was just too mentally and physically exhausting.

Some people mentioned being more decisive-- Emilia Kinkaid because she allowed herself to be ambivalent until what she really wanted became obvious; Janice Darrow because she [195] generally knew what she wanted; and Suzanne Nervi because her choices didn't seem to be eliminatlng other desirable alternatives. Coinciding with Suzanne's lessening of motoric confusion was a lessenlng of communicative confusion-- she felt very much more articulate during this period. Decisiveness, articutate speech, self-assertiveness-- all are part of being aware of what one really wants or feels. When one is clear on the "internal message," behavior acquires a unity of action that is manifested in fluidity, gracefulness, and power. These were all characteristic of behavior during many of these experiences.


People varied to the degree that their senses were affected during these experiences. Several peopLe (Angela Rimbaud, Peter O'Donnell, Janice Darrow) felt that their senses were not changed during the experience. In spite of this, both Angela and Peter made particular mention of how much more they "appreciated" sensory phenomena and Angela also felt she paid more "attention" to certain stimuli in her environment-- especially significant objects in the church or monastery (such as the crucifix).

Most people, however, did report changes in the senses. The most common experience was a heightening of visual input or a visual 'clearing'. Craig Postman after meditating mentioned a visual quality of "sparkling clear energy," as if [196] things were very close or his eyes were "real telescopes." Suzanne Nervi experienced a sharp visual impression of people's faces-- they appeared clearer, soft, almost "glowing," as if with an inner light. Emilia Kinkaid felt like she could "see better"-- she was very much aware of color, light, and shade-- especially in the forest. Lilian Krackow was very much aware of the changes of light on the ocean. Jamy Bryerson reported a somewhat different visual phenonena: she could see a "glow or shimmer" in different areas on the ground-- these Wilma referred to as "earth auras." She could also see "auras" around people. Castaneda (1968) had also mentioned seeing such phenomena. Changing the normal type of receptivity to sensory phenomena-- whether by some form of meditation or by "shutting off the cortical" in Jamy's case-- may result in a new capacity to perceive sensory data not ordinarily able to be perceived (Ornstein, 1972). The religious experiences in James (1961) and the ecstatic experiences in Laski (1961) often included similar changes in visual phenomena. Reports of changes in visual processes as part of a long term experience (as in this study) are much more rare.

Several other specific sensory changes were noted-- all in the direction of increased sensitivity. Craig Postman mentioned an increase in the tactile mode-- he could feel the warmth or cold emanating from a person's body if he sat next to that person. Lilian Krackow mentioned a heightening of both the senses of taste (while eating a grape) and hearing [197] (while listening to music). The way she described these experiences-- as if it were the first time she had ever eaten a grape or listened to music-- gives one a sense of the dishabituation of the usual perceptual categorization-- a momentary suspension of thought about the stimulus and a new awareness of that particular stimulus. Such a description corresponds to the experimental results attained in studies of yogis after meditation (Arand, Chhina and Singh, in Tart, 1969; Ornstein, 1972) and in Zen masters during meditation (Kasamatsu and Hirai, in Tart, 1969). In these studies, repetition of an external stimulus (an auditory "click") did not result in habituation of the response-- the last click was responded to just as strongly as the first. Apparently, no mental "model" of the stimulus as repetitive was formed, so its impact was not diminished (Ornstein, 1972).

Two women in the study, Lilian Krackow and Suzanne Nervi, experienced an increase in sexuality. This would seem to be a specific type of increased bodily awareness. Emilia Krackow, when discribing a particutar sexual episode, made it clear that she was more in touch with, and able to respond better to, her bodily feelings.

Several people made more general statements about changes in their senses. Singh Ramur felt that,

Everything is heightened and clarified: sight, sound, taste, feeling, everything-- pretty much all the time.

[198] However, he added that he experiences less desire to gratify his senses now. Anne Watson noted a heightening of all her senses and a greater responsiveness to the natural surroundings (trees, water, wind, etc.) in particular. Lilian Krackow felt that all of her senses went "from death to life."

Besides changes in the existing senses, of least one person (Wes Pomeroy) mentioned a feeling of having a "new sense" developed. He said,

Instead of being anyone of my senses, I was all five. I was the overseer of my senses . . . . I was the one that watches.

He states that his hearing and seeing weren't any "better," but they were "different." This difference had to do with him being more "aware" rather than his senses being different. It is difficult for me to fully comprehend this change-- perhaps it is merely another way of stating what the other people, have called a "sensory change."

Writing about the sensory changes during 'mystic' or 'religlous' experiences, Deikman (in Tart, 1969) noted:

It is hard to document this perceptual alteration because the autobiographical accounts that Underhill, James, and others cite are a blend of the mystic's spirituat feeling and his actual perception, with the result that the spiritual content dominates the description the mystic gives of the physical world (p.33).

One advantage of my largely 'secular' accounts of such changes is their obvious lack of 'contanination' of the [199] reports of sensory phenomena by a pre-existing religious framework.

Related to the sensory experience during these periods is the fact that several people made specific mention of the weather. Craig Postman's experience had its onset about the time the sun was returning to Oregon, after the winter. He states:

Everything was coming alive again . . . . We would go outside and just sort of space-out in the sunshine.

During Anne Watson's travels through Switzerland, the weather was "gorgeous." After a light snow the first day, the weather while Emilia Kinkaid was having her workshop was "really wonderful . . . just beautiful."

Closely related to the sensory phenomena was an overall feeling of "appreciation" of them-- a enjoyment of the world as experienced through the senses. Craig Postman felt he was a "hedonist" at that time, "savoring everything." Peter O'Donnell enjoyed everything-- talking, drinking, sex, laughing, eating-- far more than ever before. Lilian Krackow during her euphoric three or four days was "very appreciative and in awe of everybody and everything" so much so that she felt "reborn." Janice Darow appreciated vibrant, exciting people much more, but bored, apathetic, complaining ones much less than before this time. Angela Rimbaud said she felt appreciative of various sensations-- such as eating-- but she felt no need to "gluttonize"-- she was using her senses "in an [200] ascetic way." Singh Ramar's attitude of gratitude helps him appreciate almost everything, although he admits that he's "still more partial to being outside in the fresh air than being in a basement in a warehouse."

Sense of Significance or Meaning

One question I asked every informant was whether or not during this experience he or she felt a sense of significance or meaning in everyday living that was not felt previously. Several people (Angel Rimbaud, Wescott Pomeroy, Lilian Krackow) felt that "everything was more significant." Angela stressed especially the "physical realities" of things, words, and gestures-- all were experienced much more deeply, often in a "visceral" way (as in the example of the crucifix). Certain events-- such as the two monks standing on the altar to remove the cross-- also possessed a very high degree of significance for her. She felt the juxtaposition of the "ordinary" with the "extraordinary" in such an event was part of the significance of the event. Lilian felt that "life had more significance" then, as did everything else. Janice Darrow similarly stated that, "life seemed a whole lot more valuable . . ." and Suzanne Nervi that, "this is what life is-- I've experienced a cosmic kind of thing."

A lesser number of people felt that the only real significance or meaning of the experience was that "it was so good" (Anne Watson) or "enjoyable" (Peter O'Donnell). Both [201] of these people stressed the fact that they felt no other sense of meaning or significance in the experience. Interestingly, these people stressed the importance of external situational variables more than most of the others. I think there is probably a connection between these two facts-- if one places the locus of control totally outside oneself (the experience is felt to be due primarily to external contingencies), one is less likely to feel a sense of deep significance or meaning in the experience.

Craig Postman felt that things things were not more significant but that he was perceiving a significance or meaning that was always there but that he hadn't always seen. Everything seemed significant in that it was part of a "flow," that it was part of a "directed" "teaching." To Craig, this experience revealed an "element of consciousness, a wisdom and purposefulness" in the Universe.

Finally, Emilia Kinkaid emphasized the fact that it is possible during such an experience to regard some aspects of living as less significant. She threw away a lot of her "shoulds" and didn't accord them the significance and meaning she once had, thus, in a sense, breaking their "power" over her life.

Sense of Reality

Human beings have at their disposal under normal conditions a sense of how "real" a particular situation feels. In [202] its most obvious form, this sense can differentiate between the "reality" of the dream and the "reality" of waking life-- usually the latter is felt to be "more real." When this sense of reality breaks down, when one can't distinguish fantasy from external reality or dream from waking, one is ususally called, "psychotic."

I wanted to find out if this sense of the "realness" of living was affected during these experiences. Did the person feel more "real;" did the events in his life seem more "real"?

This was a difficult concept for some of the people in this study to grasp. Once I explained it satisfactorily, a number of people (Angela Rimbaud, Peter O'Donnell, Janice Darrow, Lilian Krackow, Anne Watson) felt that they experienced no change in this dimension.

Some people, on the other hand, felt there very much was a change in this sense of reality. Every one of these people felt the change was in the direction of experience as "more real." Most of them related the sense of reality to changes in sensory vividness-- especially the heightening of visual acuity (true for Craig Postman, Emilia Kinkaid, Suzanne Nervi, and Wescott Pomeroy) . Apparently, the more "clear" one's vision is (at least in this culture), the more "real" the percept is felt to be. Suzanne felt this was one of the few times in her life when she found herself not questioning the reality of her experience-- am I "really" happy? The realness of the experience eliminated the need to question it.

[203] A few people felt that they didn't experience things as more real but that they instead experienced a different reality. Singh Ramur said his view of reality has changed entirely-- that he has a different framework for viewing the world. Jamy Bryerson felt she hadn't experienced the "usual" reality participating in such activities as standing on "earth auras." Wes Pomeroy, in spite of his statement that "things were more real," also felt like he had discovered the relativity of this concept, that each person had his own reality and reality is subject to change.

Unification of Opposites

During my own experience, there were times when I felt myself in a situation in which aspects of living that were normally separate or in conflict were somehow united. Jung wrote of a "transcedent function," arising from the union of conscious and unconscious contents, manifesting itself as a "quality of conjoined opposites" (1969e, p. 90), and Maslow (1962) of the resolution of dichotomies in self-actualized people. In this section I will discuss the responses to questions concerning some specific unifications.

Self/Other. I asked every informant whether there was any time during the experience when his or her "self" seemed united with that of another person.

Several people felt that their "selves" were very distinct, separate, or "defined" in relation to other people [204] during most of this experience. Some of these people (Angela Rimbaud, Craig Postman, and Emilia Kinkaid), at the same time as they felt very separate, felt "more open" to other people. Angela felt she could "listen better;" Craig felt "available for contact." Janice Darow during her experience also felt herself very separate and defined, but in contrast to the others, felt less open to most people. She felt her isolation was necessary in order that her "self" could become stronger. She had previously been "too available."

There was considerabLe evidence of unification. This was experienced by some (Peter O'Donnell, Lilian Krackow, Singh Ramur, and Wescott Pomeroy) as a "merging" of self and other, a loss of the normal boundaries, or a "loss of ego" and by others (Jamy Bryerson and Suzanne Nervi) as both a separation and a unification at the same time. Jamy stated:

There was something about having a very distinct sense of who I am-- more so than at other times in my life, and, at the same time, finding it most easy to be synchronous with another person, without losing myself . . . . It wasn't merging so much as moving together.

She felt that there was a merging of something bigger than either she or Wilma. Suzanne felt "at one with everyone" she saw-- a "definite oneness with people and things, but, at the same time, "very defined and individualized."

Anne. Watson's response was a little less clear to me. It seemed as if she felt both a separation and feelings of [205] "humanity" or "people-kind"-- which might have been experienced as a type of merging.

Outer/Inner. Most of the people in the study did experience a unification of aspects of reality that might usually be separable into "outer" and "inner"-- the basis of the distinction being whether something is felt to be "inside" or "outside" the person's body.

Several people felt a unification of "inner" and "outer" within the sphere of the "self." Peter O'Donnell stated that his thoughts were identical with his words and behaviors. Janice Darrow's thoughts and behaviors seemed "more in line," one result of her thinking having become more her "own;" Anne Watson spoke of a unity between feelings and what was being said.

Other people felt this unification involved other aspects of reality besides the "self." Here we are speaking of a unification of the "self" with the "environment." Emilia Kinkaid experienced a momentary disappearance of the normal boundary between her insides and the outside world while she was walking in the woods. Lilian Krackow felt a very strong connection between herself and the ocean:

The sea-- the waves-- just feeling a total part of all that. It was a real connection with the Universe.

Singh Ramur stated firmly his belief that there is "no separation" between outer and inner-- if the world looks negative, [206] it's because he's feeling negative. Wes Pomeroy, especially while outside in nature, felt

really strongly that what was going on outside of me was also going on inside of me.

Suzanne Nervi experienced a "definite oneness . . . with things" in her environment.

Subjective/Objective. Most of the people in the study had a difficult time relating their experiences to this concept. The way I defined it was: an essential unity of subjective, or personal, evaluation of a person, situation, and place with what the person judged to be the "objective" (as apart from his own judgment) reality of that person, situation, or place. Some people felt they could not separate the concepts in their everyday life, so they weren't sure if, or how, they were changed.

Only one person stated with any definiteness that there was a unity experienced of subjective and objective. Suzanne Nervi said, "they were the same."

Jamy Bryerson related the term "subjective" to her concept, "sub-cortical" and "objective" to her concept, "cortical." She felt her experience was primarily "subjective" in these terms-- shutting off the normal thinking processes-- but that the experience was "objective" at certain times-- for example when she was studying neuro-anatomy.

Singh Rarnur, on the other hand, feels the process of [207] growth leads one to become more and more "objective" and less "subjective." For him, "objective" is retated to the infinite, and "subjective " to the "finite."

Feelings/Thoughts. Feelings and thoughts are not really opposite. They are often, however, in the course of everyday life, in conflict.

During these prolonged positive experiences, there was an almost unanimous finding that feelings and thoughts were "more connected," "more alike," "more aligned" than they usually are. This means the common conflict between the two was drasticalLy reduced. It is important to note that "feelings" were in most cases still distinguishable from "thoughts"-- they weren't "merged"-- they just were not in conflict. As Jamy Bryerson put it, "feelings had thought qualities and thoughts had feeling qualities." Singh Ramur did, however, postulate a possible merging in the future; he said thoughts and feelings were becoming "more alike each other all of the time."

Angela Rimbaud thought of this dichotomy in terms of "stories" (feelings) and "intellectuat concepts" (thoughts) . A story is the "flesh and bones of an abstraction." Angela felt her analytical thinking had becone very much enlivened during her experience by its becoming less separable from feelings ("stories").

Masculine/Feminine. I wanted to determine whether a person's usual polarization of "masculine" traits and [208] "feminine" traits was more unified during this period.

Most people chose to answer the question in terms of themselves, rather than in terms of their perception of other people.

Several people felt there definitely was a "merging" of these two qualities in their own lives during this experience. Emilia Kinkaid felt an unusual freedom to display both her "tough" and her "soft" sides. These sides were manifested in the clothes she chose to wear-- one day a beautiful skirt, the next day overalls and heavy boots. Jamy Bryerson felt that both she and Wilma possessed qualities of both polarities and that some of their work "was almost beyond masculine and feminine." Wes Pomeroy felt that what was inside him was more than just a "person" than either "man" or "woman"-- he felt that he had transcended sexual differences to some degree. This he referred to as being "trans-sexual." Angela Rimbaud wasn't able to pinpoint any actual changes in her life, but she still felt that these polarities were starting to merge on the basis of her dreams of a union between one figure representing womanhood and another figure representing manhood. When I originally asked this question, I had assumed that if there was merging of the two polarities, it would mean as acquisition of some of the opposite sex characteristics. In contrast to this, Angela felt her experience was enabling her to better accept her feminine qualities, which she felt had been repressed to some degree before this.

[209] Several people did not feel a merging of masculine and feminine qualities but they did feel less stuck in the extreme polar stereotypes during their experience. Anne Watson didn't feel like she had to play the stereotyped feminine role with Claude-- she felt like she could just "be herself." Two women-- Janice Darrow and Suzanne Nervi-- felt the ability to be interested in intellectual matters for the first time. Prior to this, they had felt this was more of a "masculine" province. Both emphasized the fact that becoming more intellectual did not make them feel less feminine. Suzanne put it, "I felt like a real woman" by "not being a woman" (playing the standard stereotyped role-- which to her meant "playing stupid" to some degree).

Other people (Peter O'Donnell, Craig Postman, Singh Ramur, and Lilian Krackow) were not aware of any changes in this dimension towards greater unity.

Desires/Values. Again, these are not strictly opposite, but they are often in conflict in everyday life-- the conflict between what one wants to do and what one feels he or she should do.

Most people felt these two polarities were closer together or even coincided during this experience. Emilia Kinkaid threw away some of her "shoulds," thus diminishing the distance between values and desires. Janice Darrow's desires and values came together in the "whole academic push." Lilian Krackow's "decision to take" was a unifying infuence. Because [210] she was so content, Anne Watson's desires "were not in dream-land." Bringing them down to earth helped them to coincide with her values. Suzanne Nervi was so content during this period in her life, she said she had few intense "desires." She would have rather substituted the term, "likes" for "desires"-- her "likes" did seem to coincide with her values. Angela Rimbaud felt her desires and values "are going in the same direction," in general.

Selfish/Selfless. Several people felt that during their experience this dichotomy was less polarized. Wes Pomeroy said there was "no conflict" between the two, Suzanne Nervi that they "were not different." Emilia Kinkaid felt as if she could be either if she had to and that there was less of a polarity between them. She gave as an example of this sense, her clarity in knowing what she wanted (friendship without sex) helped the man she was with (in her workshop group) be more clear on what he wanted. Her actions were both "selfish" (in that they were for herself) and "selfless" (in that they served another's best interests). Anne Watson said she was "more of both" during her travels in Switzerland and that this was "the best of the unified dichotomies to describe the whole experience." In this regard von Franz had noted, "an unconditional devotion to one's own process of individuation brings about the best social adaptation" (in Jung, 1969, p. 223).

Janice Darrow felt that she tried to make these two characteristics come together in her attitude towards taking [211] responsibility for oneself, but looking back now, she feels this was "artifical" and that these two can't really come together.

Others in the study experienced very much of a separation between these two concepts. Singh Ramur and Craig Postman felt less "selfish"-- to them this word had negative connotations. Lilian Krackow, on the other hand , was just learning how to become "selfish." To her this word had a more positive connotation.

Freedom/Determinism. During my own experience I felt a stronger unity between freedom and determinism. By suspending action and thought long enough to get in touch with my "inner voice"-- certainly experienced as part of myself but not a part of myself I had anly conscious control over-- I sensed what I really wanted to do in any situation. Because I had no conscious control over this part of me, this direction felt "determined" in a sense. But, at the same time, I knew this was "me" making the decision, so I felt free at the same time. In addition, I felt free to disregard this inner voice if I so chose, but I don't remember doing so.

Most of the people in this study felt a similar "merging" of, or at least more closeness between, these two polarities. One of the major aspects of this merging was that there weren't a lot of alternatives at any one time which one had to decide between. Usually, action just "flowed naturally" and it might only be afterwards that one realized he or [212] she had made a decision. Suzanne Nervi felt very free but her actions "didn't even feel like a choice." She also said, "It's our power but at the same time it's fate." Peter O'Donnell felt his actions were very much determined by the external environment, where he was living, who he was with, his job schedule, etc. What he did never varied very much so there was little feeling about alternative actions. Yet, at the same time, he felt extremely free.

Wes Pomeroy gave a good example of the unity of these two polarities. With the other people in the group he had felt "pulled" to the house where their experience occurred, yet he had felt free to go there or not to.

Angela Rimbaud qualified the unity by saying it was present for her in "good" relationships and when she was alone but was less present in social situations. Here the freedom to be herself was often cramped by the determinism of social conventions and potiteness.

Emilia Kinkaid distinguished freedom from determinism in her actions but they appeared to be less in conflict and more in harmony. Getting in touch with what she wanted (which seemed 'determined' to her) was followed by increased freedom of action. EmiLia felt more able to make decisions, and, unlike some others in the study, more conscious that she was making a decision.

LilLan Krackow felt "more free" during her three to four day period but there was no feeling of merging between freedom [213] and determinism.

Conscious/Unconscious. This was a question I asked of only the last few people since I hadn't thought of it at the beginning of the study. A person I was to interview but who had to cancel the appointment for personal reasons suggested the dichotomy. It also became salient after reading some of Jung's works.

Several of the people to whom I asked this question did feel less of a difference between conscious and unconscious during their experience than at other times. Suzanne Nervi felt her state was "a cross" between the conscious and the unconscious. Wes Pomeroy said his unconscious was becoming conscious, that there was "transference" between the two, and that his unconscious "had been broken into." Singh Ramur felt more and more of his unconscious was becoming conscious-- eventually he feels there will be no unconscious.

Consciousness of an "Inner Voice"

One of the more "unusual" questions (I had thought) I asked was whether or not the person was more in touch with an "inner voice" or "inner sense" during this experience. I was not sure if anybody would know what I meant; this is somewhat of an elusive and difficult to verbalize sensation. Surprisingly, almost every one of the informants knew what I was talking about. They had almost all been conscious of such a [214] "voice." One person preferred to call it an "inner sense," another (Angela Rimbaud) felt the voice was that of Christ (or her "true self"). One person said the inner voice was "clearer," someone else that he was "more in touch" with it, and another that he had a "sense of rightness" about his actions because of this inner sense.

During the interview with Janice Darrow, she was describing some physical feelings (relaxation, absence of tension, almost a "heaviness") associated with this state. On an impulse, I asked her if she could localLze these feelings in her body, if the "inner voice" seemed to emanate from any particular place in the body. She couldn't.

In the next few interviews, I also asked this question. My feeling that there might be a localization in the body was partly unconscious inspiration and partly based on an observation I had made during several of the interviews. While describing this experience (especially how they felt or acted during it), some people used a specific physical gesture. This was a circular motion of the arm, starting at the stomach and continuing outward and upward and then downward, until an arc roughly equivalent to a semi-circle had been described. One word in particular was associated with this movement-- the word, "flow." My hunch was rewarded: four out of five people were able to localize the "inner voice;" the gesture had been meaningful in every case, the localization was in the stomach (in one case the "lower abdomen"). Jamy [215] Bryerson replied when I asked her:

I feel it sort of bubbling up from here [indicating her stomach]. This is the key area. This is where porcupines curl around-- that's the gut . . . . This is where the feelings are . . . . This is it-- for sure.

Singh Ramur said,

This right here [indicating his stomach] is the source of all your power. Now we're talking about mind-body, aikido, Tai Chi, the sorcerers of the south-west United States. When you move your vital energy, your'e really moving this. That's a gut feeling, for sure.

Maslow's (1962) notion of "impulse voices" and the "inner voice" described by Jung (1959) and v. Franz (in Jung, 1969) are relevant here, Jung feels this voice generally whispers "something negative, if not actually evil." The voice puts one in touch with a part of himself that he previously had considered outside himself and had usually considered 'evil'.

If we do not partially succumb, nothing of this apparent evil enters into us, and no regeneration or healing can take place . . . . If we succumb completely . . . a catastrophe ensues. But if we succumb only in part, and if by self-assertion the ego can save itself from being ccmpletely swallowed, then it can assimilate the voice, and we realize the evil was, after all, only a semblance of evil, but in reality a bringer of healing and illumination (1954, pp. 184-185).

Although the "inner voice" often compelled the people in the present study to undertake actions that were different from [216] their usual actions (and, in many cases, contrary to former values), there was no mention of the impulse being felt as "evil." Most of the descriptions of this process were more similar to Maslow's definition of "impulse voices"-- knowing "what one really wants or doesn't want, what one is fit for and what one is not fit for" (1962, p. 779). The Chinese notion of "Tao"-- "the undiscovered vein within us"-- likened to "a flow. of water that moves irresistably to its goal" (Jung, 1959, p. 186) is another way of speaking of the "inner voice."

The concept of "intuition" is very simllar to hearing one's inner voice. Jung called intuition, "perception via the unconscious" (1959b, p. 282). Several of the people in this study mentioned an increase in intuitive ability during this time. Emilia Kinkaid's decision to go to Drake's workshop was an "intuitive impulse." It couldn't be rationally explained, but it felt right. There was also a very keen sense of excitement present. Jamy Bryerson's decision to go out to New Mexico after hearing the woman talk about her work there also was very mch an intuitive impulse-- not at all rationally thought out or planned.

Time Sense

I was interested specifically in how the passage of time was experienced during these periods.

Two responses predominated: the first was that the passage of time was felt to be very slowed down. Angela Rimbaud, [217] Craig Postman, and Jamy Bryerson all experienced time in this manner. Jamy, in part, voluntarily brought this sensation about by her technique of "time stretching" described earlier, The second major response was that time was "irrelevant," "meant nothing," or was "unimportant." Peter O'Donnell noted during his experience on the job in Tobernie, "no one clock watched." Singh Ramur feels time is "no hassle" and that the "notion of time has to dissolve" eventually to achieve the most total growth.

A few people noted that they sometimes lost track of time (never to any "pathological" degree) due to their intense involvement in whatever they were doing.

Viewing the experience from the end (afber it was over) Peter O'Donnell felt it went very quickly, in spite of the fact that during the experience, time felt slowed down.

Suzanne Nervi felt her experience contained elements of "timelessness"-- it seemed outside the nomnal flow of time.

A few people did not feel any change in the sense of the passage of time.

A different aspect of the modality of time is one's location of oneself along a continuum stretching from the past, through the present, into the future. Most people during these experiences felt themselves located more in the present, less in the past or the future. The present moment was being drunk in all its fullness-- "second-guessing" the past and "pre-programming" the future were drowned in the waters [218] of the present.

Psychic Phenomena

One of the most dramatic, unexpected, and exciting findings in this study was the presence of 'psychic' phenomena-- those felt to transcend the normal functioning of the sensory modalities; "extransensory" happenings. I had no a priori questions about such phenomena-- they emerged spontaneously during the interviews. Four of the 17 informants mentioned specific instances of psychic phenomena. Before considering these in any detail, we shall review some of Jung's ideas on the subject.

In a paper entitled "Synchronicity: An acausal connectingprinciple" (Jung, 1969d), Jung tackled the subject head on. "Synchronicity" was defined as "the simultaneous occurrence of a certain psychic state with one or more external events which appear as meaningful parallels to the momentary subjective state" (1969d, p. 441). Synchronous events were described as consisting of two factors:

1) an unconscious image comes into consciousness either directly (i.e. literally) or indirectLy (symbolized or suggested) in the form of a dream, idea, or premonition;

2) an objective situation coincides with this content.

Some examples of synchronous events given by Jung are: [219] extrasensory perception (ESP); astrological predictions; psychokinesis (PK); "out of the body experiences" with a perception of simultaneous "outside" events at a distance from the physical body of the person; premonitions.

Jung gives an example of synchronicity from his own practice:

A woman I was treating, had, at a critical moment, a dream in which she was given a golden scarab.While she was telling me this dream I sat with my back to the closed window. Suddenly I heard a noise behind me, like a gentle tapping. I turned round and saw a flying insect knocking against the window pane from outside. I opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in. It was the nearest analogy to a golden scarab that one finds in our latitudes, a scarabaeid beetle, the common rose-chafer . . . which contrary to it; usual habits had evidently felt an urge to get into a dark room at this particular moment (1969, p. 438).

Synchronous events are defined as, and experienced as, non-causal. Jung states:

Under certain conditions, space and time can be reduced almost to zero; causality disappears with them . . . . (1969d, p. 446).

Just as the introduction of time as the fourth dimension in modern physics postulates an irrepresentable space-time continuum, so the idea of synchronicity with its inherent quality of meaning produces a picture of the world so irrepresentable as to be completely baffling (1969d, p. 513).

Jung felt that synchronous or acausal events only appeared to be baffling or mysterious because of our "ingrained belief in the sovereign power of causality" (1969d, p. 518). As stated earlier, these types of events are thought to be more [220] prevalent in crucial phases of the process of individuation. With this as a background, let us look at some of the psychic experiences reported.

Angela Rimbaud had been praying. It was the first time she felt herself really able to "have a dialogue." She made a request in prayer to be able to love the types of people she felt herself unable to love. Shortly afterwards she met K., "fell in love" with her, and felt the external environment had provided the answer to her request. Although this was experienced as an acausal phenomenon, it may be argued that Angela prepared herself psychologically for such an occurrence, thereby facilitating the actual occurrence. Although the conditions certainly are not controlled enough to satisfy a parapsychologist, the "subjective reality" was of an event outside the normal realm of causal phenomena.

Craig Postman gave several examples from his experience. He felt he could ask his "internal guru" a question and the external environment would immediately "answer." Unfortunately, he gave no further elaboration on this particular process. Craig also felt "intuitive flashes" at times-- visual images. He began checking out the accuracy of some of these in terms of their correspondence with the external reality. Once he got an image of his friend throwing a pitcher of beer in a bar. His friend was standing nearby. When Craig told him the fantasy, his friend said he had been feeling very angry but hadn't known it until Craig had told him the fantasy. [221] That same day, in a group, Craig got an image of two people making love. He found out later they had just made love for the first time prior to coming into the group. In these two examples, one could argue that Craig had available to him bodily cues that might explain the intuitive flashes without the necessity of hypothesizing ESP. ff this was the case, we must still admit Craig possessed a degree of sensitivity to such cues far beyond the usual range. In another example Craig gave-- a premonition of his mother receiving money and his later finding out that she had received $3000 from her boss's estate-- the argument of a heightened sensitivity to bodily cues is not possible. Here we have either a coincidence or an example of synchronicity-- "ESP." The subjective reality for Craig was that this was a synchronous event-- a meaningful parallel between internal and external realities without a causal connection.

Jamy Bryerson experienced with Wilma a number of occurrences of "ESP"-- where what she was thinking was immediately verbalized by Wilma, or vice versa. One time, while waiting in the motor vehicle bureau in Albuquerque, they averaged 20 times an hour for such occurrences. Jamy (in Massachusetts) could also tell when Wilma (in New Mexico) would call before she actually did. She also mentioned their paragraphs crossing-- "word for word, just about"-- in the mail. Jamy also mentioned some other "paranormal" phenomena-- seeing "earth auras" and "auras" around people's bodies. I will not try to [222] 'explain away' any of these occurrences.

Finally, Wes Pomeroy experienced probably the heaviest concentration of psychic phenomena during his group experience in Pennsylvania. Very often one person could verbalize about word for word the next thought in another person's head-- this seemed to be happening almost continuously for over three days. In one case, Wes was reading from a book to two people. He finished reading and there was a hushed silence. The two other members of the group returned. One of these people didn't have to be told the central idea that had just been read-- he could "sense" it in the room-- as if the feeling just hung there. During this period, Wes tried to make himself "one with his surroundings." Another person who knew him was very close by but apparently didn't see him or recognize him. Due to the nature of the setting-- a large gym in which Wes and his friend were the only two people present-- his friend on a bleacher two steps below Wes-- it is highly unlikely that this was a "normal" misperception. In the woods, Wes felt an intimate connection between his inner thoughts and external events-- such as a leaf falling at the exact instant he had a particular thought.

The weight of all these reported experiences leads me to conclude that "synchronous" and other paranormal events can be a part of these prolonged positive experiences. As if the reports of such events weren't enough to lead me to this conclusion, an event of this type occurred during one of the [223] interviews. While I was talking to Suzanne Nervi about her experience of some of the unifications of dichotomies, I kept getting a particular visual image in my head. This corresponded with nothing that was being said verbally. After a while, I said, "I keep getting a particular visual image as you're talking." I was just about to show her the image using my hands to illustrate-- I already had one fist clenched. She exclaimed, "I know how the other hand is going to go." She then proceeded to show me how I was about to put my other hand. It was exactly right (it was sort of cupped, a few inches from the other hand that was in a fist). We both looked at this and wondered what our unconscious had come up with. My immediate asscciation was to Yin and Yang-- the male and female principles-- the active and the passive. She agreed. Mostly, we were both amazed.

In connection with these experiences, I must mention some work done in Czechoslavakia and reported in Ostrander and Schroeder's "Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain" (1970). Dr. Milon Ryzl, head of an ESP laboratory in Prague, feels that the ability to visualize images mentally is central to good psychic (ESP) performance. He describes an "active mental inactivity"-- the inhibition of verbal thought (which sounds very similar to Jamy Bryerson's "turning off the cortical") and the waiting for an emergence of a visual mental image. Several people in this study had reported a decline in verbal thought activity (corresponding to the left brain [224] hemisphere according to Ornstein, 1972) and an increase in the ability to visualize mentally (corresponding to the right cerebral hemisphere).

Teachers or Spiritual Guides

Another concept that arose during the course of the interviews was the concept of a "teacher," "guru" , or spiritual guide. A prototype of the teacher is Don Juan, the old Yoqui sorcerer. Castaneda had to entrust himself into Don Juan's hands in order to learn his vision of the world, in order to see with Don Juan's eyes. Once he had grasped this vision (after ten years "apprenticeship") there was nothing further Don Juan could teach him-- he was on his own.

Several people in this study mentioned people whose influence seemed to be that of a teacher or guide. Emilia Kinkaid's emphasis on Drake's personality and strength and how these enabled her own strength to emerge is one example. Janice Darrow mentioned using certain people in the academic environment as "models" for herself during this period. Singh Ramur clearly identified Yogi Bhajan as his guru, one who taught him a particular vision of the world. Wilma for Jamy Bryerson was also clearly a teacher-- on one level of bodily movement and techniques of therapy, or another level of a world-vision lncluding psychic phenomenon, "earth auras," etc. In a more limited way, Wes Pomeroy felt Mike was a type of guide for him-- in helping him relate to nature and to see [225] the relationship between himself and nature.

One characteristic of most teachers or guides is a degree of personal power. Emilia Kinkaid and Jamy Bryerson often used the term, "power" when referring to their respective teachers. This is a difficult to define concept-- but it is related to the extent that these people affect the minds and feelings of others in contact with them.

A few people's guides were experienced as 'internal', within their own psyches. Craig Postman's guru was an old man who had appeared in a dream. He answered only through events in the outside environment. Angela Rimbaud's spiritual guide is Christ, whom she feels she can engage in direct dialogue, but who also, on occasion, answers her through the external environment.

My main feeling about teachers is that there is a time for teachers and guides and a time to undertake the journey alone. One can only rely on the inner sense. or intuition to tell one when the apprenticeship is over.

End of the Experience

Some very specific patterns emerged in terms of the end of these experiences.

The most common occurrence was the "loss" of a person or persons who had been significant to the experience. In every case, this "loss" did not necessarily mean the end of a relationship-- it meant primarily the leaving of one or more [226] people, usually with an "open-ended" understanding about the possibility of future closeness. The end of Peter O'Donnell's experience coincided with the leaving of Hamilton and Rogers; Emilia Kinkaid's experience ended when she and Drake parted; Wes Pomeroy left Norm, Mike, and Wendy in Pennsylvania; Jamy Bryerson left Wilma in New Mexico; Claude left Anne Watson in Switzerland. All of these partings coincided with the end of the experience.

Where the person in the study was the one who left, there was another factor related to the end of the experience: a change of environment. Thus, Peter O'Donnell left Tobernie and went to his brother's house; Emilia Kinkaid left the workshop in California and came back to Massachusetts; Wes Pomeroy left the others in Pennsylvania and returned to New England; and Jamy Bryerson left New Mexico to return to the East coast.

Another major factor connected with the end of these experiences was the influence of other people on the person having the experience. Lilian Krackow felt her "euphoria period" began to change when her brother started voicing opposition to her seeing Myron because he was married. This introduced elements of conflict which were not previously felt. Suzanne Nervi mentioned two people who seemed to have an influence on her experience near its end. One was a girl who told her she was "arrogant" and "selfish;" the other was her mother who constantly questioned the value and "reality" of Suzanne's experience. Susanne began to feel guilty about [227] different things near the end-- closing the door to her room to be alone and eating "deviant" foods while on a macrobiotic diet, for example. It is possible that some of this guilt was induced through the actions of these others. Peter O'Donnell also mentioned the influence of other people in bringing about the end of his experience. When he and Brighton arrived at his brother's house, they felt they had to be careful of what they said so as not to hurt anyone's feelings. The atmosphere was totally different from that at Tobernie, in part due to the differences in the people in the two places, conversations became "contrived" again and Peter knew his "Tobernie lifestyle" had come to an end.

Only one person in the study-- Suzanne Nervi-- mentioned specifically feeling some responsibility for ending the experience. She felt that she did have some influence in ending it, although "at the same time it was fate" (and also perhaps her mother).

Janice Darrow's experlence ended when she was turned down from four schools in England-- indicating to her that her previous self-image as "infalliable" in academic matters had to be changed.

A few people felt a "crash" at the very end of the experience. When Wilma left for a few days near the end of Jamy Bryerson's stay in New Mexico, it felt like "heLl." Suzanne Nervi's experience ended "like a crash" and was followed by a long period of depression and anxiety attacks. For most [228] people, however, the end, although quite definite, was experienced as more of a change rather than as a drastic "crash." Craig Postman couldn't remember the exact end of his experience-- he said , it "just trailed off."

In two cases, Angela Rimbaud and Singh Ramur-- the experience was still on-going at the time of the interview.

Characterizations of the Total Process

I was interested in finding out how the people in the study viewed these experiences in terms of their lives and how they characterized the "total process" of the experience.

Most of the people viewed these experiences as part of a confirmation of, and/or a clarification of, a natural process of growth. The total process was referred to in different terms-- "the growth process," "development," "a natural flow," a process of continual "expansion," or "an ascending spiral." This last term, used by Angela Rimbaud, is an image that has been used to refer to the process of 'individuation':

The process is that of an ascending spiral, which grows upward while simultaneously returning again and agrain to the same point ( v. Franz, in Jung, 1964, p. 225).

Many people felt this experience reinforced or clarified a direction their lives had had previously but was only now-- under the aegis of this experience-- seen clearly. Wes Pomeroy felt his experience was part of a natural process but it also [229] was a dramatic "quantum leap" in his devetopment.

Other people viewed the total experience somewhat differently. Suzanne Nervi viewed it mainly in terms of "really being alive." There was the sense that this is what life really is, with the implication that life is felt as "veiled" to her much of the rest of the time. Lilian Krackow viewed her experience as an instance of "death and rebirth"-- the battle with cancer represented the "death" and her recovery represented a "rebirth," a renewal, a reawakening.

One of the most unusual characterizations of the experience was Peter O'Donnell's. He felt his Tobernie experience was simpty a "gap," discontinuous with the rest of his life. He saw no personal growth leading up to it and no results in terms of personal growth. He saw it as the consequence of the coincidence of a number of external factors.

Besides asking how they would characterize the total experience, I also asked, more specifically, if the experience had any philosophical or religious implications.

Most people felt the experience was "spiritual"-- but did not specify exactly why, nor did they relate it to any a priori religious concepts. Several said, although it was "spiritual" it had no supernatural meening and did not have any relevance to religious questions such as the existence or non-existence of God. A few people even felt it confirmed their belief that organized religion was not for them.

Two people-- Angela Rimbaud and Singh Ramur-- felt their [230] experiences did fit within a pre-existing religious framework-- a Christian framework in the former case, a Yogic framework in the latter. It is interesting that these were two of the longest duration of the experiences in this study (they were also the only two still on-going at the time of the interview) . It may be that the religious framework, although abhorrent to some, allows the continuance of a prolonged positive state for others, this is probably in part due to the effect of consensual validation by others using the same framework-- other Christians or other Yogis-- especially those in immediate contact with the person. This effect, in contrast to the termination of many of the other experiences with the "loss" of a significant other, may indicate the importance of some type of "spiritual community" in prolonging these experiences.

A few people in the study (Peter O'Donnell, Janice Darrow, and Jamy Bryerson) felt the experience had no religious or philosophical complications. Jamy said, "I don't know what it was" but felt it was larger than, and able to incorporate within it, religious or philosophical notions.

There was one very specific philosophical or religious implication mentioned. Both Suzanne Nervi and Wes Pomeroy dealt with the concept of "paradox." Suzanne felt that in any conflict or dialectic argument, one shouldn't choose either side as opposed to the other, that one must find a "third way" that encompasses both sides. Wes expressed a very similar notion-- the importance of "living in the center [231] of the paradox"-- again seen as a "third way"-- as opposed to making a decision for either of the two conflicting sides. This is similar to Emilia Kinkaid's new found ability to live with ambivalence. In all of these cases, the positive state was experienced as a "third way" in which actions didn't seem to contradict or ignore desirable alternatives, but instead seemed to encompass them.

Result of the Experience

Although the majority of the experiences were felt to have 'ended' at a particular time, there was considerable carry-over of the positive effects to "everyday" life. Some effects were discussed by a number of different people, others were idiosnycratic.

Some of the more common results included: more trust in the unconscious, less need for 'control', less anxiety about the future; feelings of 'security' or 'strength' not previously felt; the ability to be more clear on one's wants and needs (Emilia Kinkaid was more clear on what she needed from her relationship with Richard. When he couldn't give it, they broke up. Two weeks later they got back together again in a much stronger way for both of them; Janice Darrow became more aware of her needs-- especially the need for structure and the need for exciting, vibrant people in her environment); the ability to be "nicer" to oneself (both Emilia Kinkaid and Lilian Krackow took long overdue vacations shortly after [232] their experiences; Lilian also learned not to over-schedule herself and to give herself more time to relax); increased ability to accept reality without pre-judging it; thoughts experienced "clearer;" renewed interest in learning; and alterations in the way of viewing reality. All of these essentially involve results affecting the "self."

Other common results affected relationships wlth others: prior conflicts were worked out in some cases; some relationships became more open and close (Angela Rimbaud's relationship with her husband was made better, as was Emilia Kinkaid's relationship with Richard; Peter O'Donnel1 decided to marry Pat as a result of his experience); some people were able to 'detach' themselves from previous relationships felt to be hindering their growth (both Janice Darrow and Lilian Krackow got in touch with very negative feelings towards men they formerly had very close relationships with; both had felt very submissive; now they were more emotionally detached and not as intimidated); in several cases, friends or acquaintances people knew before the experience could no longer be seen as friends-- they were felt to hinder further growth, some people feeling they had to behave in the "old ways" around these people.

There were also some results true mainly for specific individuals: Craig Postman recovered his powers of visual imagery; Emilia Kinkaid felt freed from the expectations of others as far as her professional life went; Janice Darrow [233] became more clear on her goals and capabilities (in contrast to some others, who felt less clear on their direction in the future); Lilian Krackow recovered some repressed feelings and felt her values were made more emphatic (education was seen to be "worthless;" her children were seen as "everything") ; Singh Ramur received the ability to remain happy and "positive" most of the time; Wes Pomeroy was able to experience orgasm for the first time, became less inhibited, and feels more in the present than ever before.

Just about all of these results are consistent with most psychological theories of "mental heatth," "personal growth," or "self-actualization" (Jahoda, 1958; Maslow, 1962; Tomkins, 1962; Perls, 1969).

One person-- Peter O'Donnell-- felt there were absolutely no results of his experience. This perhaps underlines the importance of being able to see the experienee as part of an overalL process. If this vision is absent, which it was in Peter's case, the experience has no "meaning" in the person's life and is viewed solely as a "lucky accident."

Finally, one person-- Suzanne Nervi-- experienced a very difficult period of depression and anxiety following her experience. In spite of this, she felt these feelings were better than her "superficial," "confused" state before the experience. It was as if the experience opened the door to growth-- painful, but necessary to Suzanne's personality.

Similar Experiences

[234] I asked each informant if they had had any experiences they considered similar to the ones focused on in this study. I did this partly to gauge the rarity or commonality of such experiences in these people's lives.

Several people had no experiences that they felt were similar, except perhaps for "little flashes" of short duration. Peter O'Donnell emphatically said he had "none-- even approaching (this)."

Some people mentioned experiences that were similar in some respects-- few people mentioned more than one that fit into the category of a "prolonged positive experience." Angela Rimbaud mentioned the three-day period in New York City with the married man and the week-long period with the monk; Craig Postman mentioned an experience during which he was in a hospital after a serious accident-- he felt himself very much merged with his environment; both Emilia Kinkaid and Jamy Bryerson mentioned periods in girl scout camp when they were much younger; Janice Darrow felt the time she lived with Michael in Rhode Island prior to their European trip was a "prolonged positive experience;" and Suzanne Nervi related her experience to her life in the present, although the earlier experience was felt as more "overwhelming."


[235] This study has explored relatively new terrltory. The characteristics and variations within the experiences reported here do touch at points theoretical assumptions made by others, primarily in theories of personal growth and "self-actualization." Yet the total concept that was the focus of this study has not been addressed in those theories.

The most influential theories of positive being in psychology (those of Jung and Maslow) have focused on either the process of becoming ('individuation' in Jung's terms) or a relatively continuous state of positive being ('self-actualization' in Maslow's terms). The only major exception to this polarization into 'being' and 'becoming' has been Maslow's investigations of the 'peak experience'. I believe the state I have explored in the present study, like the 'peak experience', must be viewed both as a state of positive being and as part of a process towards the growth of the personality. Whereas 'individuation' might be symbolized as an ever-ascending slope and 'self-actualization' as a relatively stable plateau, the prolonged positive states I have been discussing may perhaps be symbolized as plateaus temporarily breaking the upward climb of an ever-ascending slope, as states of pure 'being' in the midst of 'becoming' (In such a schema, the peak experience might be represented as a sharp peak erupting out of an ever-ascending slope). Not all of the experiences [236] fit neatly into such an image, but this is the general trend.

The experiences in this study have been shown to have many characteristics and phenornena in common,so much so that I believe we may be justified in speaking of a class or family of experiences which we might term, "prolonged positive experiences." A general description of the state would include the following elements (a more complete description of which is found: in Chapter V):

1) A prior period of anxiety, conflict, frustration or depression.

2) An onset usually involving some change in the external environment (either a physical change or a new relationship), but at times involving a withdrawal from the external environment into oneself.

3) A change in type of activity-- the most common changes being an increased emphasis on physical activity and awareness of the body, and a reduction or absence of the normal pressures associated with working.

4) A sense of freedom in relationship with others; an unusual degree of intimacy, often after very little contact; and a tolerant, reloxed, playful attitude towards people, in general.

5) A high proportion of very positive feelings-- of both the "excited" and "relaxed" variety (Tomkins, 1962); a low proportion of negative feelings; the ability to handle, learn from, and grow from negative feeling states.

6) A quieting of the usual mental "dialogue;" [237] greater efficiency in thinking and concentrating; a possible decline in verbal content with a corresponding increase in visual imagery; a focus of thinking more on the present moment than on past failures (or successes) and future events.

7) A balance between being active and being passive resulting in more graceful, powerful, "centered" behavior.

8) A heightening or 'clearing' of the senses, coupled with increased appreciation of them and of living, in general.

9) A heightened sense of significance or meaning.

10) A heightened sense of "reality;" a possibility of seeing reality in new ways.

11) An experience of the unification of some, normally polarized, dichotomies, especially: self/other; outer/inner; feelings/thoughts; desires/values; selfish/selfless; freedom/determinism; conscious/unconscious; masculine/feminine.

12) A more clear apprehension of an "inner voice" or "sense," often localized around the stomach or abdomen region of the body; a possibility of trusting and acting on one's intuitive impulses.

13) A slowed-down experience of time or a feeling of the irrelevancy of the normal division of experience into temporal units; a sense of being in the present moment (Psychoanalytic theorists (Bergler end Roheim, 1946) have linked the perception of time to the experience of either pleasure or duty: "The period during which time stops is always one of pleasurable activity . . ." (p.201) "[The normal perception of] time and duty are associated" (p. 198)).

14) [238] A possibility of 'psychic' phenomena-- synchronous events, ESP, precognition, or paranormal visual phenomena.

15) The possibility of a major influence during the experience being a person seen as a teacher, guru, or spiritual guide.

16) The end of the experience usually coinciding with some changes in the external physical environment (such as change of location or "loss" of a significant other, often the teacher or guide); the end might also be due, in part, to the influence of pressures from other people.

17) The experience is seen as part of an overall process of growth and usually is felt to have 'spiritual' implications.

18) The experience usually brings about very positive changes in the person's life, lasting long after the experience itself has terminated.

19) Although this type of experience was felt to be relatively rare, most informants could remember at least one previous similar experience and did not discount the possibility of future occurrences. In fact, several people felt the experience taught them some of the essentials for having a similar [239] experience and might thereby facilitate such an occurrence in the future.

The implications are several:

1) Research in parapsychology will eventually have to be tied in with theoretical discussions and experimental findings concerning states of health and growth of the personality. Jung merely hinted at such a correspondence in his work on "synchronicity." More concern with psychic phenomena is called for if we are to understand states of health prone to such phenomena.

2) If we are to understand the phenomena of health or of the growth of the personality, further studies of positive states of being must be undertaken. Like James' varieties of religious experience, there are undoubtedly varieties of prolonged positive experience. We are in no position, at the moment, to undertake such a categorization.

3) Theories of psychological health must begin to deal with a spiritual aspect of life that many of them have ignored. Eventually, such work may lead to a bridging of the gap between the field af psychology and spiritual disciplines. This possibility is explored by Maslow in his work, Religions, Values, [240] and Peak-Experiences (1964).

4) Clinical psychology, especially in its practical application (therapy), can learn from such spontaneous growth experiences; we need to consider the possibilities of a "therapy of health," as opposed to a therapy aimed only at eliminating sickness. Research has shown clearly that the dimensions of negative states or feelings and of positive states and feelings may be largely uncorrelated in a given instance (Bradburn and Caplovitz, 1955). If our models of therapy are aiming towards health or growthr we cannot therefore rely on research into sickness. We must undertake research into the positive realms and begin to apply these results in therapy.

The applications of research into positive experiences to therapy will not be easily accomplished. Some potential difficulties can be foreseen.

A therapist in the midst of a prolonged positive state might well be a more powerful change agent than a "normal-neurotic" therapist. The state is characterized by a lack of conflict and a unification of vital energies. A therapist experiencing such a unification would probably be better able to focus on his client. A crucial question which then [241] arises is, Would he or she choose to direct his or her energy towards doing therapy? The state is usually characterized by a freedom to follow an internal impulse. Surely that impulse would not always dictate doing therapy. Perhaps trying to "do therapy" when the internal impulse is clearly indicating another direction is not therapy at all but only "playing at therapy," using external paraphenalia {offices, degrees, etc.) to substantiate the act. Perhaps it is best to "do therapy" only when the vital energies are totally participating in the act. If this is so, we must overcome some of the structural components encountered in most therapy situations which hinder such experience.

One difficulty in directly applying some of the findings of this research to the practice of therapy involves the matter of scheduling. In most cases, the break-up of time due to scheduling was felt to be inimical to prolonged positive experiences. If we are interested in facilitating such experience on the part of the therapist, as well as the client, how are we to get around the problem of scheduling an appointment, the very scheduling of which might cut across and abort a naturally occurring growth sequence? Can there be a therapy of health whose very model of operation embodies the findings of research into healthy experiences? One possibility in terms of arranging therapy would be to provide a place where people could go at any time they feel a need for therapy. This place would also be a center where other people ('therapists') could go when they felt their energies were [242] collected enough to do therapy. In other words, the therapist would be available only when his inner impulse led him to that place. This, of course, would lead to an unavailability of some therapists at certain times. This might be partially compensated for by the increased effectiveness of a therapist when he or she was available. Obviously, such an idea is only a rough approximation of a workable reality at this point and many details remain to be worked out.

Another possibility with regard to scheduling is that there may be a balance of scheduled and unscheduled time which might maximize the probability of a prolonged positive experience. Thus, it may not be necessary to abolish scheduling completely, only to insure that scheduled time is not excessive. There might also be a type of spacing of scheduled and unscheduled time which might allow positive experiences to occur, much as the rate of learning is affected by whether the practice sessions are "massed" or "spaced." One individual's needs with regard to filled and unfilled time would possibly differ greatly from the next person's. This would necessitate the discovery of one's personal optimal schedule. The discovery of such a timetable would be an extremely exciting adventure (perhaps the healthiest people are already consciously or unconsciously engaged in such a search).

We must also consider the setting that therapy might occur in. Many of the positive experiences in this study seemed to be influenced by natural surroundings-- the ocean, mountains, the woods, a desert. A therapy of health would do well to use [243] some of these powerful natural forces. This would involve a change of setting from a stuffy or sterile office to a rich or barren place in nature. Such changes have already been made in some places, such as at Esalen Institute on the Pacific Coast in California.

Aside from arranging a time and a place for therapy, another consideration is the form of therapy. Most research has been into sickness; most models of therapy based on that research have focused on conflicts or sickness-- the usual aim being to reduce these. Is it not possible to focus primarily in therapy on integrated aspects of a person, on facilitating growth and positive experiences rather than focusing on conflicts and attempting to reduce these? One possible alternative is a therapy focused specifically on training a person to better hear his inner voice. This voice would lead at times into pain, but it would also lead to freedom and joy. Some forms of "sensitivity" and "encounter" groups certainly tend towards this direction; it is questionable, however, whether the group form is always the best for achieving such awareness. There is always the possibility of a relatively unintegrated "group high" which diminishes shortly after the group experience.

Any therapy which attempts to facilitate the type of experience reported in this study will have to emphasize an awareness of the body and most likely will have to include some forms of strenuous physical exercise. People in this state repeatedly stressed the importance of these factors. [244] Many of the techniques of gestalt, bioenergetics, movement therapy, and "rolfing" address themselves to the body and might conceivably be adapted to such a form of therapy. The practices of yoga, meditation and zazen might also be drawn from. I even wonder if the type of therapy I am thinking of creating/discovering has already been, in whole or in part, created/discovered, perhaps in a non-Western form. If it has, there still remains the problem of integrating such techniques into this culture.

An important component of many of these experiences was a sense of excitement, adventure, and even, at times, danger. A therapy of health must be less conservative than most conventional therapies. It might involve physical dangers or hardships, such as are included in the "outward-bound" model, which tests the limits of a person's physical, mental, and emotional capabilities in rugged wilderness settings. It might involve a journey (an actual physical journey) that is meaningful to the person involved. The prototype of such a physical, emotional, and spiritual quest is given in Rene Daumal's Mount Analogue, in which a group of people attempt to climb a mythical mountain-- a voyage of the soul as well as of the body. Castaneda's books also provide some useful examples of such voyages of discovery.

A major question with regard to translating the results of this research into clinical practice is in discovering the limits of how much of an intrinsically spontaneous, natural process can be taught, manipulated, or facilitated. [245] To what degree can such transformations take place with conscious intent? It seems likely that we may increase the possibility for the occurence of a prolonged positive experience by increasing our consciousness of the process, but that unconscious factors would still play a part in the occurence of such an experience at any given time.

Related to the difficulty involved in establishing a mode of therapy which would allow or facilitate prolonged positive experiences is the difficulty in envisioning an application of this research to the everyday work world. Again the factor of scheduling is certainly one problem. Another is the alienation that most people feel from the work that they do. Would widespread facilitation of this type of experience result in less work because people wouLd be unwilling to assume certain functions? Truly healthy human beings would be unwilling to serve functions that they felt to be useless, ridiculous, or degrading. Neither would they be able to rationalize or cut themselves off emotionally to perform tasks. However, it is likely the necessary work of the society would be more efficiently accomplished by healthy, happy people who could create new timetables for themselves.

On an individual level there is the question of how one maintains a positive state of being and at the same time manages to do some work that will enable him to survive when most work (as it exists now) is probably counterproductive to such experience? The individual must try to find/invent forms of [246] working that are not felt to be alienating or externally imposed. These forms must satisfy the strivings of his or her inner voice as well as certain demands of external reality. This is an exhausting but worthwhile struggle.

One fascinating aspect of these experiences with profound implications is the way people related to others during the experience. In many cases, a very powerful and important relationship was in no way defined by a "type" or duration of commitment. Relationships seemed more unique and more transient. For people following their inner voice the time may come when they have to leave someone they have been very close to. To deny the voice would lead to the continuation of the relationship but personal stagnation. How many people denied this type of growth to themselves because they clung tenaciously to a relationship in spite of inner urgings to the contrary?

I believe that people will more and more have to come in touch with their "inner voices." Survival previous to this age often demanded a supression of the inner voice in favor of external "reality" demands. Such demands were in part based upon economic factors and in part based on social pressures. As the absolute nature of such demands decreases (with the increase of available or potential leisure time, as well as with the continued breakdown of past standards, traditions and institutions, the erosion of the sanctity of marriage being one example) (Such changes are vividly described in Toffler's Future Shock (1970)) a new basis of action will have to be [247] established in a person's life. The more firmly grounded is this basis of action inside the person, the more that person will be able to flow with the often chaotic changes of modern society. A person holding stubbornly to the outmoded external forms will be brittle and may break, while one in tune with his inner self can abandon old forms and flow with (and influence) the forces of change. In one way, it is possible to see the rapid changes of the modern age as facilitating the type of experiences reported in this study. If one can hardly keep up with nor make sense of the myriad fluctuations in the external world, he may be forced to discover and hold onto the only thing that is reaLly stable-- his inner self.

A person following his or her inner voice might evolve some highly unusual relationships. Such relationships would embody a balance of closeness and freedom-- with as much space as possible between the people so as not to cut off individual growth, yet not so much space as to lead to a feeling of isolation. Such relationships are exciting but also dangerous. There are no previous forms to follow, no pre-written "script" to be acted out. Security based on tradition is absent. One must be open to radical changes in these relationships, such as one person leaving, often for a long time, perhaps forever. One must be strong enough to handle such changes, but, at the same time, not be hard, cut off, or invulnerable. Perhaps we are at the beginning of an era in which it wi11 be possible [248] to love another yet not be dependent on that person. The ability to do this may become necessary for psychological growth as the pace of change in society accelerates.

One of the most important and yet difficult to integrate findings of this study was the influence of pain and suffering in these experiences. Most of the positive experiences were preceeded by a period of suffering of one type or another. I stated that it appears that being in touch with one's own pain perhaps was a necessary precondition for this type of experience (Bakan (1968) has discussed some aspects of the relationship between pain and growth, specifically the paradoxical nature of pain, which on one hand may lead to growth and development, but on the other to disintegration and death). What is unclear is whether this "death- rebirth" cycle undergoes any change over the course of a particular person's development. For exanple, it may be that every state like the ones in this study is preceeded by a confrontation with pain, but that the intensity of such a confrontation lessens as the person develops-- i.e., a person learns to live with suffering and is somehow "outside" it, especially if the memory of past positive states (and/or the expectation of future ones) is strong.

If the effect of pain is diminished over time, are we also to expect a diminuation of the pleasurable excitement of the subsequent positive state? There is no really valid way of answering this question but it would seem reasonable that in some ways this may be the case. In other words, as one develops and matures, pain is felt and borne but is not [249] experienced as devastating as it once was, pleasure and excitement are experienced but perhaps in a less intense way. In terms of a simple contrast effect, this would seem to be the case. If pain is in general less devastating, the relief from pain will not be experienced as quite so liberating as would relief from a more intense suffering or conflict. This is in keeping with adaptation level theory (Hetson, 1954) which states that subjective experience in a given situation is a function of the discrepancy between past and present experience rather than a function of the absolute level of stimulation in the present situation. Also, as a person over the course of time becomes healthier, we might expect that what he calls "prolonged positive experiences" would differ less from the rest of his life than had earlier experiences. One's whole life gradually comes to be experienced as a "prolonged positive state." This might mean that the prolonged positive states experienced later in life would tend to be experienced as "calmer" and "quieter" than the earlier states. Developmentally, the "peak experience" may be the first glimpse of prolonged positive states to come, the most prolonged state being "self-actualization."

In contrast to the possibility of a gradual "quieting" of these experiences over time in a person's life, is the possibility of increased excitement integrated with increased calmness. This would correspond to Tomkins' (1962) statement that the most positive experiences have elements of both "excitement" and "enjoyment." If the former case is true, [250] predominance of "enjoyment" and "calm" type descriptions (such as given by many of the people in this study) might indicate a more developed or integrated experience than one emphasizing predominantly "excitement" type terms. If the latter case is true, a predominance of either "enjoyment" or "excitement" type descriptions would be inferior developmentally to a more balanced experience.

The answers to questions of this sort will definitely have to await the results of further research-- specifically research into the course of development of prolonged positive experiences during a person's lifetime. Such research would also help to answer two other questions: 1) Does the length of these experiences generally increase as one develops? 2) Do environmental conditions become less important in precipitating and maintaining such states with further personal development? My guess in each case would be affirmative-- such trends would further confirm the idea that these experiences are forerunners of a general, overall psychological state of health or "self-actualization."

On the subject of further research, one limitation of the present study must be highlighted here. This is the fact that the sample population was limited to mostly fairly young (40 and under), mostly bright and well-educated, mostly middle-class people. Do other "types" of people have similar experiences or are these experiences somehow connected to the relative luxury of middle-class (or upper-class) freedom? One of the extremely difficult tasks of future research will [251] be to somehow compare experiences coming from people with totally different value, meaning, and reality schemes. Understanding each of the 11 experiences in this limited sample and then comparing these was an extremely difficult and challenging task. For example, when one person used the term, "objective" to describe a certain process, another might use the term "subjective" to describe essentially the same process. With a more heterogeneous sample, semantic variations of this sort could only multiply. One question which might be answered after doing studies of this type with older, less educated, and/or working-class people wou1d be: To what extent are such experiences and/or the reports of such experiences influenced by the consciousness of certain literary sources (such as Castenada, Jung, Maslow) and happenings (such as encounter groups, gestalt therapy, etc.) liable to more directly affect the middle-class?

Still another rather fascinating possibility in terms of future research would be cross-cultural studies of these types of experience. Do such experiences exist in other cultures; in every culture?-- How do they vary across cultures?

The present work is just the barest beginning in some exciting new realms. My hope is that it will stimulate the reader to make his own discoveries, whether personally or scientifically-- perhaps those polarities may even merge. [252]


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