Human Nature and the Nature of Reality: Conceptual Challenges From Consciousness Research

Holotropic states (a large special subgroup of nonordinary states of consciousness) have been the focus of many fields of modem research, such as experiential psychotherapy, clinical and laboratory work with psychedelic substances, field anthropology, thanatology, and therapy with individuals undergoing psychospiritual crises (“spiritual emergencies”). This research has generated a plethora of extraordinary observations that have undermined some of the most fundamental assumptions of modem psychiatry, psychology, and psychotherapy. Some of these new findings seriously challenge the most basic philosophical tenets of Western science concerning the relationship between matter, life, and consciousness. This article summarizes the most important major revisions that would have to be made in our understanding of consciousness and of the human psyche in health and disease to accomodate these conceptual challenges. These areas of changes include; a new understanding and cartography of the human psyche; the nature and architecture of emotional and psychosomatic disorders; therapeutic mechanisms and the process of healing; the strategy of psychotherapy and self-exploration; the role of spirituality in human life; and the nature of reality.


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