Epstein M.D., & Lieff J.D. (1981). Psychiatric complications of meditation practice.

Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 13(2): 137-47.

"The authors have observed hundreds of meditators over the past years and offer the following observations. Complications of meditation practice have not gone unnoticed by Western clinicians although they tend to be limited to gross pathology in beginning students. Depersonnalization and derealization experiences are reported by many practitioners to bo ego-syntonic side effects of their meditations. In some cases, the feelings may be of such intensity as to necessitate psychiatric consultation (Kennedy, 1976) and may, by virtue of their foreignness, precipitate panic attacks. Anxiety, tension, agitation and restlessness may all be paradoxically increased through the practice of Transcendantale Meditation (Lazarus, 1976; Otis cited in Walsh, 1978; Carrington & Ephron, Kanellkos & Lucas, cited in Shapiro, 1978). Exacerbations of depressive affect to the point of attempted suicide may also follow Transcendantale Meditation experience (Lazarus, 1976). Precipitation of extreme euphoria accompanied by powerfully compelling fantaises and MMPI evidence of 'exessive pressure from unconscious material' followed by 'unbearable' dysphoria is described in a previously well 38-year-old woman following beginning practice of meditation (French, Schmid & Ingalls, 1975). 'Grandiose fantaisies' evolving into 'religious delusions with messianic content are described in a 24-year-old male following prolonged meditation in an isolated environment (Levinson, 1973). Three psychotic episodes, characterized by agitation, paranoia and suicide attemps, are described in individuals with a history of schizophrenia participating in intensive meditation retreats associated with fasting and sleep deprivation (Walsh & Roche, 1979). Two psychotic episodes, in young psychiatric patients with previous LSD experiences, are described after TM training (Glueck, in Carpenter, 1977). The early stages of meditation practice, then, seem to contain potentially explosive experiences for some individuals."


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