Main Session: Genie Palmer, PhD
Exceptional Human Experiences (EHEs): Therapeutic benefits and consequences of disclosure
Historically, many names have been suggested for a variety of extraordinary experiences. The evolution, which travels from William James’s religious experiences to Rhea White’s exceptional human experiences (EHEs), will be traced and how our understanding of the nature of these experiences has changed over time. With White’s definition of EHEs, distinctions will be made between exceptional human experiences (EHEs) and spiritually transformative experience (STEs). To deepen understanding of potentially transformative experiences, White’s description of how an exceptional experience becomes an exceptional human experience will be presented, along with a Glossary of Terms as a way of creating a “language” of these experiences. With added understanding and appreciation for the importance and wisdom of such experiences, a deeper dialogue can occur around the beneficial aspects of disclosure and the creation of a “breathing space” for full expression of EHEs. Consequences of disclosure and potential for unhealthy side effects will be explored.
A brief review of work and life impacts of EHEs, along with current research will demonstrate how these experiences are currently being disclosed into the world. Braud’s “Rainbow of Experiences Model” and “the beyond that is within” and how this model extends current views of EHEs and STEs will conclude the presentation.
Genie Palmer, Ph.D., is associate professor and Director of the Writing Research Center at Sofia University in Palo Alto, California. Palmer’s primary research is focused on the expansive nature of human experience― meanings and life impacts of non-ordinary, transcendent, and exceptional human experiences (EHEs); and spiritually transformative experiences (STEs) of ecstatic states of consciousness (mystical, peak, and epiphany experiences).
In 1998, Palmer and two other Sofia students won the school’s first Sydney Jourard Award for excellence in student research from Division 32 of the American Psychological Association. Under the guidance and mentorship of two leading experts in the field―William Braud and Rhea White― Palmer completed her research on disclosure and assimilation of exceptional human experiences. Palmer and Braud continued expanding this research and writing until Braud’s death in 2013.
Palmer continues to encourage students, faculty, staff, and administrators to work with their psychic and spiritual experiences. Additionally, she teaches and continues research and writing on the topic of EHEs, while supporting student research in these various fields of study. She maintains a private spiritual guidance practice, working with individuals/groups to foster spiritual growth and development and facilitate assimilation and integration of spiritual and exceptional human experiences.