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Altered States/Dissociation
Record Type: Review   ID: 363

Trance: A Natural History of Altered States of Mind

Inglis, Brian

 This popular history of how trance has been perceived begins with a historical overview of its types and components. There follows a chapter on trance in shamanism and its presence in early Christianity, where it was seen as a sign of grace until, following St. Augustine, it became associated with the devil and still later, with hysteria. Next, he deals with trance in animal magnetism, hypnotism, and spiritism. During the materialistic years of the first half of the 20th century, trance was considered as co-consciousness. It surfaced in cases of shell shock in World War I. In the last half of this century scholars in many disciplines became interested in trance. Inglis presents the views of psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, anthropologists, parapsychologists, and physicians. In a chapter entitled "Two Mysteries," he discusses trance incombustibility and fire-walking, spontaneous human combustion, and the experience of ecstasy, wherein humans appear to contact "mind-at-large." In the last chapter, he concludes that trance has been prevented from being studied and valued because of scientism. He presents reasons why "trance needs rehabilitation in practice, as well as in restoring it to its rightful position in science" (p. 275).
Publisher Information:London, England: Grafton Books, 1989. 303p. Bibl: 280-287; Chap. bibl: 288-294; Index: 295-303
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