Affirming the positive in anomalous experiences

A challenge to dominant accounts of reality, life, and death

Authored by: Edith Maria Steffen , David J. Wilde , Callum E. Cooper

The Routledge International Handbook of Critical Positive Psychology

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138961432
eBook ISBN: 9781315659794
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



Unusual or out-of-the ordinary experiences that do not easily match a culture’s generally held understandings of what is real and what is not real tend to be dismissed and pathologised. People who hold beliefs that conflict with the common worldview are often viewed as either dangerous or mad, and those in power have often made great investments into the policing and eradication of such “aberration”, a prominent example being the Inquisition in much of the last millennium. In the wake of the anti-psychiatry movement, some would regard traditional medical psychiatry as having taken the place of the foremost belief-censoring authority in the Westernised world today. However, the discipline of psychology has also played its part in the oppression of what is regarded as “the other” by those in power. In particular, it has done this by unquestioningly upholding dominant assumptions about what counts as real and what does not and by not challenging the pathologisation of experiences that do not fit dominant definitions of reality.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.