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From Trauma to Transcendence: Clinical Perspectives on an Evolutionary Process

Description: Abstract: Trauma and dissociation play a decisive role in initiating spiritual experience. This article explores transformational crises and spiritually transformative experiences (STEs) that occur within the context of trauma, physical illness, and mental disorders. Such growth or transformation may be a natural evolutionary process, in which the defense mechanism of dissociation plays a part. Consciousness is challenged to transform when one's ego identity and defenses are threatened. Ultimately, one may arrive at a radically re-ordered conceptual framework and higher-order functioning. Acknowledgement of this evolutionary dynamic may serve as a bridge between two fields: clinical psychology, with its expertise regarding the effects of trauma, notably dissociative states, and transpersonal psychology, with its expertise regarding transformational processes. Research from both fields is explored, as well as case examples from the author's biography, her clinical practice, and the collective. The concept of functional dissociation is introduced, and clinical considerations are addressed.
Date: Winter 2014
Creator: Colli, Janet Elizabeth

Integrating Spiritual Experiences: Peaks to Plateaus

Description: Abstract: This article provides a distilled sketch of my observations of three general phases in a process of integrating spiritually transformative experiences (STEs). The process may be thought of as both marking development over time as well as being microgenetic, spiraling through phases in brief moments. In addition, three forces activated in an STE -- transcendence, communion, and destruction -- as well as challenges frequently associated with these types of experiences are described with brief case examples as they manifest across the three phases. Awareness of these phases, along with their overriding questions and challenges, provides an open-ended framework for helpers to use in assisting the spiritual experiencer toward integration.
Date: Winter 2014
Creator: Hart, Tobin