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Bruce Greyson, PhD: Sometimes a Cigar Is Just a Cigar

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From the Session Abstract

Sometimes a Cigar Is Just a Cigar

“Ever since the ascendance of psychodynamic theories a century ago, skeptical psychologists have interpreted spiritual experience as a neurotic defense against life’s vicissitudes and the fear of death. With the ascendance of neurocognitive psychology in recent decades, skeptical neuroscientists have reinterpreted spiritual experience as a hallucination produced by the brain. While both those interpretations are plausible, research data demonstrate that the majority of spiritual experiences differ markedly from either neurotic defenses or brain-based hallucinations. It is of course possible to use spiritual experiences as psychological defenses, and it is possible to have hallucinations that mimic spiritual experiences in superficial ways. In addition, however, I will argue that sometimes a spiritual experience is just a spiritual experience. I will review ways to differentiate spiritual experience from psychological and neurological events with which they may be confused; and I will discuss the importance of distinguishing between spiritual experience and neuropsychological disturbances both to the individual experiencer and to neuroscience.”

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Recording Notes

Please note that the recording is the “raw” recording from the conference. Some recordings will have some time (up to a couple of minutes) of silence or “conference noise” before the speaker begins.