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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

Mystical experience and psychosocial development

Author: Gilpin, V.S.
Author Background: Smith College
Date 1999
Type Dissertation
Journal Title:
Volume/Pages 35(2), No. 603
Subject Matter Research, Mysticism-; Psychosocial-development; Spirituality
Abstract Reports of mystical experiences of lay people were examined for their content and impact on psychosocial development. A non-probability, self-identified convenience sample, N = 25, participated in audio tape-recorded interviews, which provided study data. Reported episodes contained the classical elements, and more. Most prevalent were Encounter with a Spiritual Entity, Noetic Quality, Deep Positive Mood, Belief in a Spiritual Dimension, and the presence of Time Alternations during the mystical experience. The relationship between the person and the spiritual entity seemed similar to the kind of relationship Jacobson (1964) describes as most conducive to healthy development. It was generally characterized by love, power, and comfort, and contributed to enduring changes in the subjects' psychosocial adjustment, marked by improvements in self-esteem, interpersonal skills and spiritual development. There was limited religious content and no pathology but many episodes seemed to be associated with a distressing life situation which abated after the event. (Journal abstract.)