Speaking with one's self: Autoscopic phenomena in writings from the ecstatic kabbalah

Shahar Arzy*, Moshe Idel, Theodor Landis, Olaf Blanke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Immediate experience localizes the self within the limits of the physical body. This spatial unity has been challenged by philosophical and mystical traditions aimed to isolate concepts of mind and body. A more direct challenge of the spatial unity comes from a well-defined group of experiences called 'autoscopic phenomena' (AP), in which the subject has the impression of seeing a second own body in an extrapersonal space. AP are known to occur in many human cultures and have been described in healthy, as well as neurological and psychiatric populations. In this article we investigate the phenomenology of AP as described in the writings of the ecstatic Kabbalah of the thirteenth century, and search for similarities and differences with respect to AP from these and other populations. The article discusses potential common research areas between cognitive science and the science of religious experience.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4-29
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Consciousness Studies
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Autoscopic phenomena
  • Ecstatic Kabbalah
  • Mystical experience
  • Neurology
  • Phenomenology
  • Temporo-parietal junction


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