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No. 135: MAY-JUN 2001

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Modelling Exceptional Human Experiences (EHEs)

Just about everyone has had an EE (Exceptional Experience): a transcendental insight, an out-of-body experience (OBE), a sudden religious conversion, a near-death experience (NDE), ecstasy, or similar "peak" experiences. Scores of such highly subjective phenomena have been described and cataloged in the psychological literature. This vast body of anecdotal knowledge is still formless and deserves to be systematized and modelled in some way.

In this spirit, we reproduce below (with permission) the abstract of a long paper that presents a preliminary model of this realm of irregular, subjective, and often-vague phenomena. Hard scientists used to the quantitative definition of variables and reams of instrument readings will be entering a different world -- a qualitative world. The language and concepts are so different. But, EEs and EHEs (Exceptional Human Experiences) are so ubiquitous in human life that they should not be ignored. One supposes that they must have some meaning and evolutionary value.

The Exceptional Human Experience (EHE) process is a unique, dynamic, progressive, reiterative, evolving pattern of human consciousness development initiated by an anomalous experience and evidenced by expanding levels of reported inner and outer transpersonal awareness. This paper is based on a review of hundreds of experiencer first-person written narratives solicited by Rhea White and the EHE Network over the past decade. It presents an orthogonal expansion of our original 5-stage EHE process outline. The expanded model highlights a 5-stage x 12-classifier matrix design, including 60 unique cells into which characteristics synthesized across and detailed within, experiencer narratives can be captured and mapped. The matrix model offers both a tool for researchers, in the form of a classification grid, as well as a map of key features noted and synthesized across and within, each of the stages of the EHE process. The discussion fleshes out some of the key issues for each of the stages. In addition, the discussion speaks to the overarching processional interactions between stages with a focus toward furthering exploration, research and application.

(Brown, Suzanne V.; "The Exceptional Human Experience Process: A Preliminary Model with Exploratory Map," International Journal of Parapsychology, 11:69, 2000.)

Comment. How else can one systematize such an ephemeral, elusive, subjective body of observations?

From Science Frontiers #135, MAY-JUN 2001. 2001 William R. Corliss

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