There’s no question. It’s a part of human nature to be awed by that which we perceive to be beyond the threshold of common understanding. Instances of “supernatural” experiences mystify long past the time of their occurrence, and seem to gain new layers of mythos and spiritual reverence with time.
But what if this type of human experience could be replicated in a lab environment? This hypothesis was tested by Dr. Michael A. Persinger, using his Koren helmet, also known as the “God Helmet,” for the effects it produced in the participants of Dr. Persinger’s studies.
The “God Helmet” works by isolating specific patterns of brain activity using weak magnetic fields that stimulate the hemispheres of the human brain in atypical ways. The results of Dr. Persinger’s studies yielded fascinating results. He notes:
The specific type of sensed presence varied with the person’s expectancies, beliefs, and of course, the patterns of the electromagnetic fields that were applied. The characteristics of the experiences were dominated by intense personal meaningfulness and altered perceptions of space and time, classic properties of right hemispheric processing. We have suggested that the sensed presence is the transient left hemispheric awareness of the right hemisphere’s equivalence to the sense of self.
So the suggestion is: awareness of God, on a neurological level, could actually be an enhanced awareness of self. It’s a provocative thought, and one worth chewing on. Readers, we’d love to hear your take.
The article, “The Simulation of the God Experience” by M. A. Persinger, was published in GLIMPSE’s “Visions” issue and can be accessed here.
There are many movies that deal with the subject of visions and the marriage of the “real” and the “unreal,” including standouts such as Donnie Darko, Labyrinth, Jacob’s Ladder, and Pan’s Labyrinth. For this discussion, I specifically selected the films [Requiem, Where the Wild Things Are, and Harvey] because, rather than beg the question as to where visions come from, they instead address the tension that we all experience between daily life and our inner worlds of the fantastic, visionary or imaginary.
Excerpt from GLIMPSE film reviewer Ivy Moylan’s “[RE]VIEWS: Requiem, Where the Wild Things Are, and Harvey.” Issue 6, Visions
Read the entire review here.
Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) is named after the 18th-century Swiss biologist and philosopher who detailed the complex hallucinations experienced by his 89-year-old grandfather, which included everything from seeing imaginary buildings and birds to men and women, the hallucinations often varying in shape and size … Unlike visionary experiences or psychotic hallucinations, people experiencing CBS cannot engage with the people and things they are seeing—it is as if silent movies were being projected for a viewer to watch, but not interact with.
“We see with our eyes, but we also see with our brain,” explains renowned neuroscientist Oliver Sacks. Charles Bonnet Syndrome, though slowly being brought to light, is still quite inscrutable. We are left to wonder: Is the brain so adapted to a constant stream of external visual stimulation, that in response to a lack of it, it will project even our most basic inscapes outward?
Excerpt from GLIMPSE staff writer Rachel Sapin’s “Our Inscapes Projected Outward: Charles Bonnet Syndrome.” Issue 6, Visions
Piero della Francesca, like many other artists of the Renaissance, sometimes used linear perspective despite the fact that it would be impossible to view his work from the correct station point when on display … For him, perspective was not merely a technical convention for representing a physically correct world. It was just one of many devices that could be adapted for use for other, non-optical ends. Our hypothesis is that the perspective in Piero’s fresco cycle depicting The Legend of the True Cross in the cappella maggiore of San Francesco in Arezzo is less about coherent space than about drawing attention to important narrative details … by which the artist hoped to instill in the viewer a sense of spiritual rapture.
Excerpt from Drs. Robert Belton and Bernd Kersten’s “Vision and Visions in Pierro della Francesca’s Legend of the True Cross.” Issue 6, Visions. Read the full article in GLIMPSE’S Visions issue at www.glimpsejournal.com.
The 25 -year-old male sat blindfolded within the quiet chamber. A bilateral frequency-modulated pulse, often associated with apprehension, was applied continuously with 1 millisecond pulse durations. After the 30-minute episode he reported:
I felt as if there was a bright light in front of me. I saw a black spot that became a kind of funnel…no, tunnel…that I felt drawn into. I felt moving, like spinning forward through it. I began to feel the presence of people, but I could not see them. They were along my sides. There were colorless, gray-looking people. I know I was in the chamber but it was very real. I suddenly felt intense fear and felt ice cold.
Excerpt from Dr. Michael A. Persinger’s “The Simulation of the God Experience within the Laboratory.” Issue 6, Visions. Learn how you can read the full article in GLIMPSE’S Visions issue at www.glimpsejournal.com.
Picture yourself in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies. Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly, a girl with kaleidoscope eyes. -The Beatles
It looks like even The Beatles are promoting GLIMPSE’S latest issue, Visions. The band’s iconic “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is featured as part of the GLIMPSE Issue #6, Visions Issue Playlist – music to read this issue by.
“Our brain is a complex information processing system that largely excludes most information from consciousness. You’ve heard that we only use 5% or 10% of our brain; the information in the rest of the brain is generally screened out. ASCs (altered states of consciousness) enhance access to this information stream, hence the ability of soul flight to bring information into the complex dream-like visual construction of reality. In shamanic healing this information may be about the patient, and used to construct a diagnosis about the psychosocial dynamics underlying the affliction.” -Dr. Michael Winkelman
Excerpt from GLIMPSE staff writer Carolyn Arcabascio’s interview wtih anthropologist Michael Winkleman. Issue 6, Visions.
Read the full (extended) interview with Dr. Winkelman onlinehere.
My own research has suggested that the importance of pretend friends is not the imagery or form associated with them, or even the fondness of children with imaginary companions for imaginative activities in general. Instead, for many if not most children, imaginary companions exist as a forum for the creation of a relationship and all the joys that come from interpersonal contact. Children use their imaginary companions to address social concerns and to understand others’ perspectives. Imaginary companions are associated with the benefits of real relationships, such as emotional support, validation, and affection. In fact, imaginary companions may assist children in learning to regulate their affect by helping them experience negative emotions such as disappointment, sadness, and anger in a context without retribution or recrimination. Similarly, imaginary companions are often a source of joy and comfort, and can even provide a person to nurture.
–Excerpt from Dr. Tracy Gleason’s “Invisible Friends: the creation of imaginary companions in childhood and beyond.” Issue 6, Visions. Learn how you can read the full article in GLIMPSE’S Visions issue at www.glimpsejournal.com.
In addition to receiving a free print copy of our latest issue, Visions, as well as a free 2-year electronic subscription to GLIMPSE, Cardoso’s photo is also featured on the Visions issue back cover.
You can visit glimpsejournal.com to check out Cardoso’s image and more in Visions which investigates the phenomena of seeing or imagining physically inexplicable forms, beings or events in personal, creative, social or religious contexts.