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Observations placeholder

Custance, John - Wisdom, Madness and Folly - Enhanced perception in mania



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Wisdom, Madness and Folly - John Custance

If I am to judge by my own experience, this "heightened sense of reality" consists of a considerable number of related sensations, the net result of which is that the outer world makes a much more vivid and intense impression on me than usual. I will try to set them down systematically, starting with what I can actually observe in myself at the present moment…..

The first thing I note is the peculiar appearances of the lights-the ordinary electric lights in the ward [he was in a Mental hospital at the time]. They are not exactly brighter, but deeper, more intense, perhaps a trifle more ruddy than usual. Moreover, if I relax the focusing of my eyes, which I can do very much more easily than in normal circumstances, a bright starlike phenomenon emanates from the lights, ultimately forming a maze of iridescent patterns of all colours of the rainbow, which remind me vaguely of the Aurora Borealis.

There are a good many people in the ward, and their faces make a peculiarly intense impression on me. I will not say that they have exactly a halo round them, though I have often had that impression in more acute phases of mania.  At present it is rather that faces seem to glow with a sort of inner light which shows up the characteristic lines extremely vividly. Thus, although I am the most hopeless draughtsman as a rule, in this state I can draw quite recognisable likenesses. This phenomenon is not confined to faces; it applies to the human body as a whole, and to a rather lesser degree to other objects such as trees, clouds, flowers and so on.

Coloured objects make a particularly vivid impression, possibly in view of the associations they arouse and, curiously enough, so do large vehicles, particularly steamrollers, railway engines and trains. Perhaps the associations of childhood are involved here. Connected with these vivid impressions is a rather curious feeling behind the eyeballs, rather as though a vast electric motor were pulsing away there.

The source of the experience

Custance, John

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items


Activities and commonsteps



Manic depression