Ecstasy and Enstasy: two sides of the same coin?

  • Peter Connolly
Keywords: Add Before Publication


ABSTRACT - I argue, contra Eliade and Fischer, that ecstasy and enstasy are not fundamentally or structurally different or extremes at the ends of an ASC spectrum but, as the title suggests, two sides of the same coin. That coin is ‘trance experience'. I show that Fischer’s model is untenable and that a better understanding of the relationship between these experiences is provided by the model of trance states that I supply.

Author Biography

Peter Connolly
Peter Connolly was formerly a senior lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Chichester and is now an Associate Lecturer in Psychology and Religious Studies with the Open University and co-director of Turning Point Consulting (


Banyai, E. I. (1980) ‘A new way to induce a hypnotic-like altered state of consciousness: active-alert induction’ in Lajos, K. and Csaba, P. (eds) Problems of the Regulation of Activity Budapest, Akademidi Kaido.

Banyai, E. I. & Hilgard, E. F. (1976) ‘A Comparison of Active-Alert Hypnotic Induction with Traditional Relaxation Induction’ Journal of Abnormal Psychology 85:2, pp.218-224.

Connolly, P. (2000a) ‘A Psychology of Possession’ (2000) Religious Experience Research Centre, 2nd series Occasional Paper 23, Westminster College, Oxford;

Connolly, P. (2000b) ‘Mystical Experience and Trance Experience’ Transpersonal Psychology Review 4:1, pp.23-35.

Deren, M. (1975)The Voodoo Gods St Albans, Paladin.

Eliade, M. (1951/1964) Shamanism: archaic techniques of ecstasy (revised edition) Princeton, Bollingen.

Eliade, M. (1954/1969) Yoga: immortality and freedom (2nd edition) London, Routledge & Kegan paul Ltd.

Fischer, R. (1986) ‘Towards a Neuroscience of Self-Experience and States of Self-Awareness and Interpreting Interpretations’, in Wolman, B.B. and Ullman, M. (eds) Handbook of States of Consciousness Van Nostrand Reinhold: New York.

Fischer, R. (1978) ‘Cartography of Conscious States: Integration of East and West’

in Sugarman, A.A. and Tarter, R.E. (eds) Expanding Dimensions of Consciousness, Springer: New York,.

Fischer, R. (1971) ‘A Cartography of the Ecstatic and Meditative States’, Science, 174, 26 Nov., pp.897-904.

Fischer, R. (1976) ‘State-Bound Knowledge: “I Can’t Remember What I Said Last Night, but It Must Have Been Good†’, Psychology Today, , reprinted in Woods, W. (ed) (1980) Understanding Mysticism Athlone: London, pp.306-311.

Fischer, R. (1969) ‘On Creative, Psychotic and Ecstatic States’ in Jakob I. (ed) Art Interpretation and Art Therapy: Psychiatry and Art (Vol. 2) Karger: Basel, reprinted in Allman, L.R. and Jaffe, D.T. (eds) Readings in Abnormal Psychology: Contemporary Perspectives (1976-77 edition), Harper and Row: New York, p.265.

Fischer, R. (1969/1972) ‘On Creative, Psychotic and Ecstatic States’ Art Interpretation and Art Therapy: Psychiatry and Art (Vol.2) Karger: Basel, reprinted in White, J. (ed) The Highest State of Consciousness, Anchor: New York, 1972.

Fischer, R. (1969) ‘The Perception-Hallucination Continuum (A Re-examination)’ Diseases of the Nervous System Vol.30, March.

Forman, R. (ed) (1990)The Problem of Pure Consciousness: Mysticism and Philosophy OUP: New York.

Gilligan, S.G. (1987)Therapeutic Trances: the co-operation principle in Ericksonian hypnotherapy New York, Brunner/Mazel.

Goodman, F.D. (1988a) How About Demons? Possession and Exorcism in the Modern World Bloomington, Indiana University Press.

Goodman, F.D. (1988b),Ecstasy, Ritual and Alternate Reality Bloomington, Indiana University Press.

Horner, I.B. (trans.) (1976)The Middle Length Sayings (Majjhima Nikaya)

London, Pali Text Society.

Jaynes, J. (1990/1993)The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (2nd ed) Harmondsworth, Penguin.

Ludwig, A.M. and Lyle, W.H. Jr, (1964) ‘Tension Induction and Hyperalert Trance’ Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology Vol. 69: 1, pp.70-76.

Masefield, P. (1986a) ‘How Noble is the Ariyan Eightfold Path?’ in Connolly, P. (ed.) Perspectives on Indian Religion: papers in honour of Karel Werner Delhi, Sri Satguru Publications.

Masefield, P. (1986b) Divine Revelation in Pali Buddhism Sri Lanka Institute of Traditional Studies: Columbo, and George Allen and Unwin: London,

Sargant, W. (1957) Battle For The Mind: a physiology of conversion and brainwashing London, Heinemann.

Schwarz, C. (editor in chief) (1991) Chambers Concise Dictionary Edinburgh, Chambers.

Sherman, S. (1972) ‘Brief Report: Very Deep Hypnosis’ Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 4, pp.87-91.

Storr, A. (1989) Solitude London, Harper Collins.

Suryani, L. & Jensen, G.D. (1993)Trance and Possession in Bali New York, OUP.

Tart, C.T. (ed.) (1972) Altered States of Consciousness (2nd ed) Anchor: New York.

Tart, C.T. (1970) ‘Transpersonal Potentialities of Deep Hypnosis’ Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 2, pp.27-40.

Tart, C.T. (1975)States of Consciousness, New York, E.P. Dutton.

Wapnick, K. (1969) ‘Mysticism and Schizophrenia ‘The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology’, 1. pp.49-66; reprinted in Woods, R. (ed.) Understanding Mysticism, Athlone: London, 1980, pp.321-337.