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American psychologist and philosopher Abraham H Maslow coined the term peak experiences to describe nonreligious quasi-mystical and mystical experiences Peak experiences are sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being and possibly the awareness of ultimate truth and the unity of all things Accompanying these experiences is a heightened sense of control over the body and emotions and a wider sense of awareness as though one was standing upon a mountaintop The experience fills the individual with wonder and awe He feels at one with the world and is pleased with it he or she has seen the ultimate truth or the essence of all things Maslows work has been called groundbreaking because it concerned the spiritual yearnings of humankind and focused a scientific interest on mysticism Such an endeavor had been absent since the work of psychologist and philosopher William James at the beginning of the twentieth century Maslow described peak experiences as self-validating self-justifying moments with their own intrinsic value never negative unpleasant or evil disoriented in time and space and accompanied by a loss of fear anxiety doubts and inhibitions The two types of peak experiences are relative and absolute Relative characterize those peak experiences in which there remains an awareness of subject and object and which are extensions of the individuals own experiences They are not true mystical experiences but rather inspirations ecstasies and raptures It is thought that probably the majority of peak experiences fall into this category Absolute peak experiences are characteristic of mystical experiences and are comparable to experiences of great mystics in history They are timeless spaceless and characterized by unity in which the subject and object becomes one Maslow said that all individuals are capable of peak experiences Those who do not have them somehow depress or deny them Individuals most likely to have peak experiences are self-actualized mature healthy and self-fulfilled Peak experiences render therapeutic value as they foster a sense
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