Self-transcendent experience: a grounded theory study

Albert Garcia-Romeu, Samuel P. Himelstein, Jacob Kaminker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Current theories in psychology conceptualize self-transcendence as a personality trait, a developmental construct, and a particular class of anomalous experience. Despite extensive research on self-transcendence, the process, outcomes, and nature of self-transcendent experience (STE) remain elusive. This study focused on the self-reported narratives of STE in 15 healthy adults. Accounts were collected in face-to-face interviews, transcribed, and thematically analyzed using grounded theory methodology. Qualitative results were recursively examined to construct a preliminary mid-range theory of STE in healthy adults. Three major theme areas emerged from interview data. These were (a) context, (b) phenomenology, and (c) aftermath of STE. Each of these major themes was further divided into distinct sub-themes, including setting, perceptual alterations, and long-term effects. The resulting interpretation of STE is discussed in light of current literature and directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-654
Number of pages22
JournalQualitative Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 29 2015


  • grounded theory
  • hallucinogens
  • mystical experience
  • psychedelics
  • qualitative research
  • self-transcendence
  • spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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