There has been great interest in the hallucination-like events experienced by the general nonclinical population. Many psychiatric scientists have come to identify these as part of a "psychotic continuum" and have begun to ask what we might learn from these experiences that will enable us to better understand and treat psychosis. While sympathetic to this goal, this paper argues that many of these events in the nonclinical population may be associated with the attention to inner imagery characteristic of much religious practice like unscripted prayer. Many of these hallucination-like events are phenomenologically distinct, culturally salient, and are predicted both by a measure of absorption, which probes for an interest in inner imagery, and by inner sense cultivation practice. These observations suggest that rare, brief, and positive sensory events may not be associated with psychotic vulnerability. They also suggest there may be an absorption-dissociation pathway, with or without trauma, for more frequent hallucinations.
Keywords: absorption; dissociation; hallucinations; religion; schizophrenia.
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