Ecstasy (emotion)

Ecstasy (emotion)

Ecstasy is subjective experience of total involvement of the subject with an object of his or her awareness. Because total involvement with an object of our interest is not our ordinary experience since we are ordinarily aware also of other objects, the ecstasy is an example of altered state of consciousness characterized by diminished awareness of other objects or total lack of the awareness of surroundings and everything around the object. For instance, if one is concentrating on a physical task, then one might cease to be aware of any intellectual thoughts. On the other hand, making a spirit journey in an ecstatic trance involves the cessation of voluntary bodily movement.

For the duration of the ecstasy the ecstatic is out of touch with ordinary life and is capable neither of communication with other people nor of undertaking normal actions. Although the experience is usually brief in physical time (from momentary to about half an hour), there are records of such experiences lasting several days or even more, and of recurring experiences of ecstasy during one's lifetime. Subjective perception of time, space and/or self may strongly change or disappear during ecstasy.

Usage of term

The word "ecstasy" is often used in mild sense, to refer to any heightened state of consciousness or intense pleasant experience. It is also used more specifically to denote states of awareness of non-ordinary mental spaces, which may be perceived as spiritual (the latter type of ecstasy often takes the form of religious ecstasy). Some religious people hold the view that true religious ecstasy occurs only in context of their religion (e.g. as a gift from the deity whom they worship) and it cannot be induced by natural means (human activities). They consider ecstasy as a way of contacting with the divine and usually value the experience as highly desirable.

Induction of ecstasy

Ecstasy can be deliberately induced using religious or creative activities, meditation, music, dancing, breathing exercises, physical exercise, sex or consumption of psychotropic drugs. The particular technique that an individual uses to induce ecstasy is usually also associated with that individual's particular religious and cultural traditions. Sometimes an ecstatic experience takes place due to occasional contact with something or somebody perceived as extremely beautiful or holy, or without any known reason. "In some cases, a person might obtain an ecstatic experience "by mistake". Maybe the person unintentionally triggers one of the, probably many, physiological mechanisms through which such an experience can be reached. In such cases, it is not rare to find that the person later, by reading, looks for an interpretation and maybe finds it within a tradition." [Kaj Björkqvist, "Ecstasy from a Physiological Point of View" [http://www.ex-premie2.org/papers/religious_ecstasy.htm] . (Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis XI: Religious Ecstasy. Based on Papers read at the Symposium on Religions Ecstasy held at Åbo, Finland, on the 26th-28th of August 1981. Edited by Nils G. Holm.)]

People interpret the experience afterwards according to their culture and beliefs (as a revelation from God, a trip to the world of spirits or a psychotic episode). "When a person is using an ecstasy technique, he usually does so within a tradition. When he reaches an experience, a traditional interpretation of it already exists." [Kaj Björkqvist, "Ecstasy from a Physiological Point of View" [http://www.ex-premie2.org/papers/religious_ecstasy.htm] . (Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis XI: Religious Ecstasy. Based on Papers read at the Symposium on Religions Ecstasy held at Åbo, Finland, on the 26th-28th of August 1981. Edited by Nils G. Holm.)] The experience together with its subsequent interpretation may strongly and permanently change the value system and the worldview of the subject (e.g. to cause religious conversion).

Common features in different cultures

In 1925, James Leuba wrote: "Among most uncivilized populations, as among civilized peoples, certain ecstatic conditions are regarded as divine possession or as union with the Divine. These states are induced by means of drugs, by physical excitement, or by psychical means. But, however produced and at whatever level of culture they may be found, they possess certain common features which suggest even to the superficial observer some profound connection. Always described as delightful beyond expression, these ecstatic experiences end commonly in mental quiescence or even in total unconsciousness." He prepares his readers "... to recognize a continuity of impulse, of purpose, of form and of result between the ecstatic intoxication of the savage and the absorption in God of the Christian mystic." [James H. Leuba, "The Psychology of Religious Mysticism", p.8. Routledge, UK, 1999.]

Explanation

"In everyday language, the word 'ecstasy' denotes an intense, euphoric experience. For obvious reasons, it is rarely used in a scientific context; it is a concept that is extremely hard to define." [Kaj Björkqvist, "Ecstasy from a Physiological Point of View" [http://www.ex-premie2.org/papers/religious_ecstasy.htm] . (Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis XI: Religious Ecstasy. Based on Papers read at the Symposium on Religions Ecstasy held at Åbo, Finland, on the 26th-28th of August 1981. Edited by Nils G. Holm.)]

ee also

* Altered state of consciousness
* Mysticism
* Oneness (concept)
* Enlightenment (concept)
* Entheogen
* Nirvana
* Wajad
* Ecstasy of St Theresa
* Religious ecstasy
* Ecstasy (philosophy)

References

Further reading

*William James, "Varieties of Religious Experience", 1902. [http://www.psychwww.com/psyrelig/james/toc.htm]
*Milan Kundera on ecstasy: a quote from Milan Kundera's book "Testaments Betrayed" (1993) [http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/vl/notes/kundera.html]
*Marghanita Laski, "Ecstasy. A study of some Secular and Religious Experiences", London, Cresset Press, 1961. See review [http://www.accampbell.uklinux.net/bookreviews/r/laski.html]
*Marghanita Laski, "Everyday Ecstasy", Thames and Hudson, 1980. ISBN 0-500-01234-2.
*Evelyn Underhill, "Mysticism", 1911. ch. 8 [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/underhill/mysticism.html]
*Timothy Leary, "The Politics of Ecstasy", 1967.

External links

*St. Francis in Ecstasy (painting by Caravaggio) [http://www.texaschapbookpress.com/magellanslog36/caravaggiostfrancis.htm]
*"Dances of Ecstasy", documentary by Michelle Mahrer and Nichole Ma [http://www.dancesofecstasy.com/]
*Scientific Pantheism [http://members.aol.com/heraklit1/union.htm]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ecstasy — may mean: * MDMA or Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, a psychedelic drug sold under the street name ecstasy . * Ecstasy (emotion), a trance or trance like state in which an individual transcends normal consciousness * Religious ecstasy, a changed… …   Wikipedia

  • ecstasy — n Ecstasy, rapture, transport denote a feeling or a state of intense, sometimes excessive or extreme, mental and emotional exaltation. Ecstasy in its earlier sense, which is now found chiefly in religious and poetical writings, implies a… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Ecstasy — Ec sta*sy, n.; pl. {Ecstasies}. [F. extase, L. ecstasis, fr. Gr. ?, fr. ? to put out of place, derange; ? = ek out + ? to set, stand. See {Ex }, and {Stand}.] [Also written {extasy}.] 1. The state of being beside one s self or rapt out of one s… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ecstasy — [ek′stə sē] n. pl. ecstasies [ME & OFr extasie < LL(Ec) ecstasis < Gr ekstasis, a being put out of its place, distraction, trance < ek , out + histanai, to set: see STAND] 1. a state of being overpowered by emotion, as by joy, grief, or… …   English World dictionary

  • emotion — [n] mental state affect, affection, affectivity, agitation, anger, ardor, commotion, concern, desire, despair, despondency, disturbance, drive, ecstasy, elation, empathy, excitability, excitement, feeling, fervor, grief, gut reaction, happiness,… …   New thesaurus

  • Emotion — For other uses, see Emotion (disambiguation). Emotional redirects here. For other uses, see Emotional (disambiguation). Emotions Affection Anger Angst Annoyance Anxiety Apathy Arousal Awe Bo …   Wikipedia

  • ecstasy — noun (plural sies) Etymology: Middle English extasie, from Middle French, from Late Latin ecstasis, from Greek ekstasis, from existanai to derange, from ex out + histanai to cause to stand more at ex , stand Date: 14th century 1 …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • ecstasy — /ek steuh see/, n., pl. ecstasies. 1. rapturous delight. 2. an overpowering emotion or exaltation; a state of sudden, intense feeling. 3. the frenzy of poetic inspiration. 4. mental transport or rapture from the contemplation of divine things.… …   Universalium

  • ecstasy — ec•sta•sy [[t]ˈɛk stə si[/t]] n. pl. sies 1) rapturous delight 2) an overpowering emotion or exaltation; a state of sudden, intense feeling 3) the frenzy of poetic inspiration 4) mental transport or rapture from the contemplation of divine things …   From formal English to slang

  • ecstasy — noun a) Intense pleasure. b) A state of emotion so intense that a person is carried beyond rational thought and self control. Syn: MDMA, E …   Wiktionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.