DOI: 10.14704/nq.2011.9.1.400

Addicted to Bliss: Looking for Ecstasy in All the Wrong Places

Stanley Krippner, Dustin Dunbar


Ecstasy (from the Greek, ekstasis: distraction; derangement; astonishment) is defined by dictionaries as (1) an emotional state so intense that one is carried beyond rational thought or self-control; (2) rapture associated with mystical experience. In this essay, we take the position that “addiction” is a social construct, a term that reflects a societal convention as much or more so that its manifestation in the consensual world. Its definition differs from “expert” to “expert” and from culture to culture. Nonetheless, “addiction” (from the Latin addicre) to ecstasy is a serious mental disorder for many people, whether the ecstatic feelings are due to substances (such as alcohol) or behavior (such as gambling). We have focused on substance addiction in this essay because of the plethora of research on this topic. “Bliss” is a desirable human condition, but can be attained through spiritual practices, human relationships, and positive artistic, athletic, cognitive, and other activities where the possibility of addiction is still present but less likely to occur.


addiction; behavior; bliss; ecstasy; mystical experience

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