Thank God for Altered States of Consciousness

Friday, 20 July 2018: 18:30
Oral Presentation
Abdulla GALADARI, Khalifa University, United Arab Emirates, Al-Maktoum College, United Kingdom
People usually fear the stigma of psychological health, as mainstream health practitioners label it as mental illness or disorder. However, with modern scientific analysis, there is a hairline between high creativity and mental illness sharing the same genetic link. The symptoms of the Muslim prophet Muḥammad are compared using modern neuropsychological techniques to evaluate his mental state, when he first claimed to be receiving a revelation from God while meditating in a cave. His symptoms suggest an altered state (psychotic episode). However, it is suggested that he had above average intelligence that when he entered the altered state, it protected him from falling into mental illness.

From the Bible, Ezekiel is considered by some scholars to have had suffered from schizophrenia. Buddha’s teachings and the Hindu Upanishads include that one must not have blind faith and remain open to various truths, since nothing may be taken as absolute. These teachings may mean that a person must have what we today call high openness to experience from among the big five personality traits in psychology. Perhaps enlightenment is the coupling of an altered psychological state with high intelligence and high openness to experience. In the case of Buddha, when he entered an altered state, not only has high intelligence protected him from psychosis, but his high openness to experience fortified him from going into delusion.

When knowing that religious leaders may have experienced psychological disorders, it may provide patients of such disorders and their families a positive perspective of such altered or psychotic states. It is the level of intelligence that differentiates between those who are in highly creative states to those who are in psychotic states. However, the neuropsychological and chemical interactions that are causing the mind to enter such states are perhaps indistinctive. Humanity progressed due to these genes.