Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 241–255 | Cite as

Exaltation in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy: Neuropsychiatric Symptom or Portal to the Divine?

  • Niall McCrae
  • Rob Whitley


Religiosity is a prominent feature of the Geschwind syndrome, a behavioural pattern found in some cases of temporal lobe epilepsy. Since the 1950s, when Wilder Penfield induced spiritual feelings by experimental manipulation of the temporal lobes, development of brain imaging technology has revealed neural correlates of intense emotional states, spurring the growth of neurotheology. In their secular empiricism, psychiatry, neurology and psychology are inclined to pathologise deviant religious expression, thereby reinforcing the dualism of objective and phenomenal worlds. Considering theological perspectives and the idea of cosmic consciousness, the authors urge a holistic approach to the spiritual events of epileptic aura, potentially leading to a deeper understanding of the mind and its transcendent potential.


Epilepsy Religion Spirituality Consciousness Geschwind syndrome 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery, James Clerk Maxwell BuildingKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Douglas Mental Health University Institute, Department of PsychiatryMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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