Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 18 February 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00065

A comparative study of exceptional experiences of clients seeking advice and of subjects in an ordinary population

W. Fach1, H. Atmanspacher1,2*, K. Landolt3, T. Wyss3 and W. Rössler2,3
  • 1Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health, Freiburg, Germany
  • 2Collegium Helveticum, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 3Psychiatric University Clinic Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Exceptional experiences (EE) occur frequently within the populations of many countries and across various socio-cultural contexts. Although some EE show similarities with mental disorders, it would be a mistake to identify them in general as disorders. In fact, the vast number of individuals reporting EE includes subclinical and completely healthy subjects. We conducted a comparative empirical study of several characteristics of EE for two samples – one from ordinary population and the other from clients seeking advice. We found surprisingly similar phenomenological patterns of EE in both samples, but the frequency and intensity of EE for clients seeking advice significantly exceeded those for the ordinary population. Our results support the hypothesis of a continuous spectrum between mental health and mental disorder for the types of experiences analyzed.

Keywords: continuum hypothesis, exceptional experiences, mental disorders, phenomenological patterns

Citation: Fach W, Atmanspacher H, Landolt K, Wyss T and Rössler W (2013) A comparative study of exceptional experiences of clients seeking advice and of subjects in an ordinary population. Front. Psychology 4:65. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00065

Received: 30 October 2012; Paper pending published: 27 December 2012;
Accepted: 29 January 2013; Published online: 18 February 2013.

Edited by:

Francesco Pagnini, Catholic University of Milan, Italy

Reviewed by:

Francesco Pagnini, Catholic University of Milan, Italy
Colin M. Bosma, Harvard University, USA

Copyright: © 2013 Fach, Atmanspacher, Landolt, Wyss and Rössler. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: H. Atmanspacher, Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health, Wilhelmstr. 3a, 79098 Freiburg, Germany. e-mail: atmanspacher@collegium.ethz.ch

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