Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 54, Issue 5, pp 1901–1918 | Cite as

Schizophrenia Patient or Spiritually Advanced Personality? A Qualitative Case Analysis

  • Hemant BhargavEmail author
  • Aarti Jagannathan
  • Nagarathna Raghuram
  • T. M. Srinivasan
  • Bangalore N. Gangadhar
Philosophical Exploration


Many aspects of spiritual experience are similar in form and content to symptoms of psychosis. Both spiritually advanced people and patients suffering from psychopathology experience alterations in their sense of ‘self.’ Psychotic experiences originate from derangement of the personality, whereas spiritual experiences involve systematic thinning out of the selfish ego, allowing individual consciousness to merge into universal consciousness. Documented instances and case studies suggest possible confusion between the spiritually advanced and schizophrenia patients. Clinical practice contains no clear guidelines on how to distinguish them. Here we use a case presentation to help tabulate clinically useful points distinguishing spiritually advanced persons from schizophrenia patients. A 34-year-old unmarried male reported to our clinic with four main complaints: lack of sense of self since childhood; repeated thoughts questioning whether he existed or not; social withdrawal; and inability to continue in any occupation. Qualitative case analysis and discussions using descriptions from ancient texts and modern psychology led to the diagnosis of schizophrenia rather than spiritual advancement.


Spirituality Sense of self Yoga Mental illness Psychopathology Schizophrenia 


Conflict of interest

We hereby declare that there are no conflicts of interest in submitting this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hemant Bhargav
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aarti Jagannathan
    • 1
  • Nagarathna Raghuram
    • 1
  • T. M. Srinivasan
    • 2
  • Bangalore N. Gangadhar
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Yoga and Life SciencesSwami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA) UniversityBangaloreIndia
  2. 2.Division of Yoga and Physical SciencesSwami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA) UniversityBangaloreIndia
  3. 3.National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS)BangaloreIndia

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