The medical model attributes religious and spiritual experiences in epilepsy to delusional or hallucinatory events, sometimes diagnosed as a form of ictal psychosis with its causation lying in epileptic symptomatology. Individuals with temporal lobe epilepsy rarely discuss experiences with medical professionals, fearing judgment and pathologization. I problematize understanding these experiences in a strictly biomedical manner. A medical case study is replaced by autoethnographic narrative to describe and analyze spiritual experiences from a nonmedical perspective. This approach emphasizes the phenomenology of the experience and its meaning for the life of the experient. Themes of illness, disclosure, and stigma become transformative.
Dreamy States and Cosmic Wanderings: An Autoethnographic Narrative of Spiritual Experiences in Epilepsy
Louise Spiers is an Integrative Transpersonal Psychotherapist and Counsellor. She has a private psychotherapy practice in London, where she uses creative therapeutic methods that include the use of dreams and archetypal symbolism to facilitate healing in adult clients. She is also a Senior Lecturer in Psychology & Counselling at the University of Northampton, where she is a doctoral candidate conducting research into transpersonal understandings of spiritual experiences in epilepsy. Louise is passionate about the power of autoethnography as a qualitative methodology for researching the phenomenology of experiences that are otherwise pathologized or silenced. Correspondence to: Louise Spiers, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Education and Society, Waterside Campus, The University of Northampton, University Drive, Northampton NN1 5HP, UK. Email: Louise.Spiers@northampton.ac.uk.
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Louise Spiers; Dreamy States and Cosmic Wanderings: An Autoethnographic Narrative of Spiritual Experiences in Epilepsy. Departures in Critical Qualitative Research 1 March 2021; 10 (1): 50–77. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/dcqr.2021.10.1.50
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