Tart, like others, describes some of the characteristic features of altered states of consciousness, many of which overlap Maslow's criteria of a peak experience mentioned in Chapter One. Tart would include the following:
(1) There is disturbed time-sense with either an acceleration or slowing of time. There may be a subjective feeling of timelessness with time coming to a standstill. This is a transient experience and is not sustained indefinitely.
(2) There is occasionally, but not always, a loss of control in the paranoid experience of fear, or the loss of grip on reality along with the feeling of helplessness. These are absent in a peak experience.
(3) There is a change in emotional expression that may reach an extreme in either direction, from ecstasy to profound fear and depression. The feeling of overflowing joy, infinite love, blessedness and peace are common. The peacefulness experienced passes all understanding and defies description. There is the conviction that ultimately there is no ground for anxiety. There is a feeling of unspeakable awe, inexpressible gratitude and boundless devotion.5
(4) There can be body image changes, including a profound sense of depersonalization, distortion in size of body parts, expansion of consciousness, a division between body and mind, and dissolution of boundaries between self and others or the world or universe. Some have described this as a feeling of unity with all elements, a knowing or understanding of the essence of life, and a total lack of physical sensation. It is completely different from ordinary human experience. There is a fusion of self with the universe, so that the observer and what is observed seem to be the same.6
(5) There can be perceptual distortions such as hallucinations, increased visual imagery, hyperacuteness of body senses, and illusions of every variety. Colors grow richer and deeper.
(6) There is a change in meaning or significance, including feelings of intense, profound, vivid insight; and truth discovery that may or may not bear a relationship to the objective truth or actual reality.7...There is the perception of absolute certainty that the newly acquired knowledge or experience is truly or ultimately real, in contrast to the feeling that the experience is a subjective delusion.8...There have been numerous instances of sudden illumination, creative insights and problem-solving which have occurred during states of altered consciousness.9...Such experience is in fact the basis of this book.
(7) There is the inability to find appropriate words to communicate the experience, and the feeling of intense realness to another person. The experience is ineffable. Revelations may also be too complex to be verbalized, such as the gaining of insight into the significance and interrelationships of many dimensions of life. One becomes aware of many levels of meaning simultaneously, and briefly understands the totality of existence. The question of whether such insight is actual or simply an illusion remains unanswered.10...I offer the Integrated Theory of Intelligence as a test of this question. If in time the concepts put forth in the theory, which originated from a peak experience, are determined to be valid, then this, I believe, is strong evidence supporting the hypothesis that accurate new insights can be obtained in this manner that are not illusionary.
Netscape CTRL + D
MAC Command + D