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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An exploration of mystical experiences through life histories Biela, Thomas Johannes


The purpose of this study was to explore the meaning of mystical experiences within the context of life histories. Existing research has primarily employed traditional methods in its concern for codification, regularization, and generalization. Qualitative methodologies have received little attention. The aim of this study was to contribute to existing research by a holistic, contextual understanding of mystical phenomena and to inform counsellors in their efforts to help clients in the meaningful integration of these experiences. This thesis employed a multiple case study approach within narrative methodology. Three individuals, one woman and two men, all in their fifties and with appropriate mystical experiences were identified through a network of acquaintances and invited to participate. Intensive interviews were conducted, transcribed, analyzed, and presented as “straightened” individual stories. Cochran’s (1990) discovery of four natural phases toward a unified dramatic composition provided an important framework for analysis. Each story was validated by the respective participant. In addition, a summary analysis or common story was constructed of the individual accounts. Findings indicate that the mystical phenomena were intimate to the very lives as lived, making a holistic research approach indispensable for the investigation of meaning.

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