Extraordinary Mental States Interview

Molecular ThoughtsExtraordinary Mental States Interview of Dr. Lieff was done by Jonathan Willbanks of Conscious Life News on April 3, 2013 as part of the Body/Mind/Spirit Summit. This hour and ten minutes audio interview includes a detailed description of the potential of human capacities as seen in a variety of very unusual mental states. It is now available here. 

To hear interview click here. 

Super talents are discussed including super vision, super autobiographical memory, synesthesia, and savants. Particularly interesting are accidental savants that develop highly unusual capacities after a brain injury or illness. Suddenly, after an injury, accidental savants demonstrate the ability for very advanced calculation, memory, artistic and musical abilities. The question is raised as to whether these capacities exist in all of us and are normally repressed. Are they released when an injury occurs? (Also, see post on Super Talents)

The second unusual state relates to body consciousness. The fact that out of body experiences have been produced in laboratories using virtual reality devices shows that these are not “psychotic” experiences, but rather are potentially available to everyone. This demonstrates that the attachment to the body can be decreased as has been discussed in many meditation traditions. (Also, see post on Body Consciousness)

Research into the effects of psychedelic drugs show that significant spiritual experiences can be triggered using a variety of agents, and that after these events many people alter their lifestyle towards religion and spirituality. The brain research on psychedelics is very counter intuitive,  showing that the more vivid and intense the subjective experiences, the more decreased is the activity of important brain hubs as viewed by fMRI imaging studies. This might mean that intense mental experiences, coinciding with greatly decreased brain activity, might tap into a deeper “mind.” (Also, see post on Psychedelics

Spiritual experiences are hard to study since they occur without warning and are a subjective internal experience. But research into the effects of “awe,” spiritual visions, high integration states, near death experiences, and meditation show that dramatic life changes can occur after these experiences. (Also, see post on Spiritual Experiences)