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Observations placeholder

Custance, John - Wisdom, Madness and Folly - The 'fully alive' state of mania



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Wisdom, Madness and Folly - John Custance

All my other senses seem more acute than usual.  Certainly my sense of touch is heightened; my fingers are much more sensitive and neat. Although generally a clumsy person with an execrable handwriting I can write much more neatly than usual; I can print, draw, embellish and carry out all sorts of little manual operations, such as pasting up scrapbooks and the like, which would normally drive me to distraction. I also note a peculiar tingling in my finger-tips.

My hearing appears to be more sensitive, and I am able to take in without disturbance or distraction many different sound-impressions at the same time. Thus, although busily engaged in writing this in a crowded ward with people walking up and down and the most diverse sounds all around me, from the cries of gulls outside to the laughter and chatter of my fellow patients, I am fully alive to what is going on - and yet find no difficulty in concentrating on my work. At times I have known sounds make a tremendous effect upon me,  almost as though I were in a gallery with supernatural powers of resonance. At such times my own very ordinary bass voice appears to be as powerful as that of Chaliapin's at least; it is as though passages in my chest which are normally clogged were opened and my chest actually seems to set up abnormal vibrations.

At the moment my sense of smell seems more or less normal, and so does my sense of taste.  In slightly more acute phases if manic, however, both these senses are well above par.  Even now I have no doubt that if I were to be allowed to walk about  freely in a flower garden I should appreciate the scents far more than usual; and I have often in manic states eaten ordinary cabbage leaves or new Brussels sprouts picked straight off the plant with such relish that they appeared to me the greatest delicacies--a kind of manna from Heaven.

Even common grass tastes excellent, while real delicacies like strawberries or  raspberries give ecstatic sensations appropriate to a veritable food of the gods.

The source of the experience

Custance, John

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Manic depression