Swedenborg, Emanuel

Swedenborg, Emanuel
(born Emanuel Swedberg, 1688-1772)
   A Swedish scientist, philosopher, theologian, and mystic, who from 1744 onwards experienced many * dreams and * visions which he designated as encounters with angels, demons, and other metaphysical beings. Swedenborg claimed that God had given him free access to Heaven and Hell. Thereupon he resigned his position as the country's leading expert on mining and metallurgy and devoted the rest of his life to the teaching of spiritual enlightenment. Even as a child Swedenborg had the ability to enter into a state of * trance, and throughout his life he claimed to have * clairvoyant abilities. The years following his spiritual enlightenment were devoted primarily to writing. He lived an ascetic life and would lie in trance for days on end, meanwhile experiencing excursions to the spiritual world, conversing with angels, and fighting violent battles with evil spirits. During these * ecstatic states he would seem to have experienced * external auditory hallucinations (both verbal and nonverbal), * complex visual hallucinations, * scenic hallucinations, *scotomata, *photisms, *lilliputian hallucinations, * olfactory hallucinations, * tactile hallucinations, * abdominal aurae, and probably many other types ofhallucination. In addition, he experienced states of * double consciousness, during which he was able to experience two personae or two different thoughts simultaneously. His extraordinary working pace (which resulted in eight voluminous works in 7 years) may have been due to automatic writing. It has been suggested retrospectively that Swedenborg's visions and trance states were * ecstatic aurae and pos-tictal dissociative episodes occurring in the context oftemporal lobe epilepsy, a condition which in his case may have been triggered by a vascular anomaly in the posterior area of the left cerebral hemisphere. It is a well-known fact that he regularly suffered from tonic-clonic seizures and from automatic movements of the mouth, which also supports this hypothesis. In the light of Sweden-borg's overall health, his prolific writings, and the coherence thereof, it is unlikely that he suffered from any mental illness.
   Bradford, D.T. (1999). Neuropsychology of Swe-denborg's visions. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 88, 377-383.
   Foote-Smith, E., Smith, T.J. (1996). Emanuel Swedenborg. Epilepsia, 37, 211-218.
   Melton, J.G., ed. (1996). Encyclopedia of occultism and parapsychology. Volume 2. Fourth edition. Detroit, MI: Gale.

Dictionary of Hallucinations. . 2010.

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