Religious experiences in epileptic patients with a focus on ictus-related episodes

Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 1998 Jun;52(3):321-5. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1819.1998.00397.x.


Two hundred thirty-four epileptic patients were examined for ictus-related religious experiences. Of the 234 cases, three (1.3%) were found to have had such religious experiences. All three cases had temporal lobe epilepsy with post-ictal psychosis, while one exhibited a simple partial seizure. At the same time, interictal experiences with hyperreligiosity were recognized in all three cases. The incidence of religious experiences while in a state of post-ictal psychosis was 27.3%, which is regarded as high, indicating some influence by the religions that the patients had faith in. Patients who had ictus-related or interictal religious experiences did not believe solely in Buddhism, a traditional religion in Japan, but rather in a combination of Buddhism and Shintoism, new Christian sect, contemporary Japanese religions and/or other folk beliefs. This indicates that these experiences had some connection not only with the personality characteristic of temporal lobe epilepsy, but also with the general lack of religious conviction and activity in Japan. In addition, the cases having ictus-related religious experiences also had interictal religious experiences and an interaction was seen between them. In this paper, the importance of taking bio-psycho-social aspects into consideration is pointed out in the discussion of epilepsy and religion.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Female
  • Hallucinations
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality
  • Religion*
  • Social Conditions
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology