Affirming the positive in anomalous experiences: A challenge to dominant accounts of reality, life and death

Edith Steffen, David Wilde, Callum Cooper

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter argues for a critical positive psychology perspective towards so-called anomalous experiences (specifically the experience of sensing the presence of the deceased and out-of-body experiences), which are often welcomed by perceivers and which tend to be pathologised or dismissed in dominant Western discourses, especially in medical ones but also in general scientific discourses due to the challenge they present to dominant conceptualisations of reality. The chapter highlights some of the benefits that perceivers have reported including how these phenomena can promote transpersonal events and positive emotions as well as post-traumatic growth. However, the difficulties perceivers have as a consequence of being dismissed are also pointed out, and it is argued that an affirmative stance towards positive anomalous experiences in psychological scholarship and practice could be a way forward but that this may require a preparedness to take a questioning stance towards dominant Western understandings of reality, life and death.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook of Critical Positive Psychology
EditorsN.J.L. Brown, T. Lomas, F.J. Eiroá-Orosa
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge: Taylor & Francis Group
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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