There was also no discussion about the origin of the theory, which I believe is at least as important as the theory itself. The exclusion of this information was based on a conscious decision because of a concern that this knowledge would bias the reader in their judgment of the theory. However, since the original article was written in 1984, I have encountered in the scientific literature enough discussion of peak experiences and how they might relate to the synthesis of higher-order concepts and enhanced creativity, that I now believe this is essential information and must be shared.
Peak experience has already been discussed in some detail in the preface. It will be correlated with other types of altered states of consciousness and will also give some insight into how the mind works creatively. Hopefully it will also provide a road map showing how one might actively increase his or her own creative powers. This is the first scientifically oriented theory to my knowledge that is being represented as the outcome of a peak experience.
To have a peak experience is unquestionably the most profound experience that a person can have during their life, with the possible exception of a near-death experience, which is probably very close to being the same thing. Each results in a dramatic transformation of one's life because of the exceedingly strong and compelling impact that it has. I have not had a near-death experience, but descriptions I have read of them reveal similarities to P.E. that are much more profound than the differences. Peak experiences are rather commonplace since many people have now experienced one or more of them..2... How does one know if he or she has had a peak experience? The only answer I can give is that if you have to ask yourself that question, then whatever experience you are wondering about wasn't a peak experience. By definition, part of the peak experience is the perception that you were temporarily transformed into a much higher state of being and consciousness. You have not one shred of doubt that it happened and that it was valid. It should also correlate with Maslow's criteria for a peak experience.
P.E. must be evaluated separately and not equated to other "psychic" experiences such as OBE (out-of-body experience), past-life or age regression, ESP, intrauterine memories, and so on, all of which are seriously disputed by scientific research. This does not necessarily rule out the possibility that they are valid--as they are invariably perceived to be by those who experience them--but only that they have not to date withstood scientific scrutiny. Each type of experience must be judged individually on the basis of its content and the information perceived. It should also be stated, however, that the majority of psychic experiences would appear to represent hallucinations, many originating in FPPs (Fantasy-Prone Personalities).
Any individual who has had a psychic experience is invariably absolutely convinced of the reality of the event. It would seem to be as real as anything experienced during ordinary consciousness.
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