From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"I would see beside me, on my left hand, an angel in bodily form ... He was not tall, but short, and very beautiful, his face so aflame that he appeared to be one of the highest types of angel who seem to be all afire ... In his hands I saw a long golden spear and at the end of the iron tip I seemed to see a point of fire. With this he seemed to pierce my heart several times so that it penetrated to my entrails. When he drew it out, I thought he was drawing them out with it and he left me completely afire with a great love for God. The pain was so sharp that it made me utter several moans; and so excessive was the sweetness caused me by the intense pain that one can never wish to lose it, nor will one's soul be content with anything less than God." --The Complete Works Of Saint Teresa Of Jesus Volume I, transl. by Allison Peers
Euphoria (from Ancient Greek εὖ, "well", and φέρειν "to bear") (semantically opposite of dysphoria) is medically recognized as a mental and emotional condition in which a person experiences intense feelings of well-being, elation, happiness, ecstasy, excitement and joy. Technically, euphoria is an affect, but the term is often colloquially used to define emotion as an intense state of transcendent happiness combined with an overwhelming sense of contentment. It has also been defined as an "affective state of exaggerated well-being or elation." The word derives from Greek εὐφορία, "power of enduring easily, fertility".
Euphoria is generally considered to be an exaggerated physical and psychological state, sometimes induced by the use of psychoactive drugs and not typically achieved during the normal course of human experience. However, some natural behaviors, such as activities resulting in orgasm, love or the triumph of an athlete, can induce brief states of euphoria. Euphoria has also been cited during certain religious or spiritual rituals and meditation. Euphoria can also be the result of a psychological disorder. Such disorders include "bipolar disorder, cyclothymic personality, head injury, and hyperthyroidism". Euphoria may also occur with "diseases affecting the nervous system, such as syphilis and multiple sclerosis".
Euphoria can occur as a result of dancing to music, music-making, and listening to emotionally arousing music. Neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that the reward system plays a central role in mediating music-induced pleasure. Pleasurable emotionally arousing music strongly increases dopamine neurotransmission in the dopaminergic pathways that project to the striatum (i.e., the mesolimbic pathway and nigrostriatal pathway). Approximately 5% of the population experiences a phenomenon termed "musical anhedonia", in which individuals do not experience pleasure from listening to emotionally arousing music despite having the ability to perceive the intended emotion that is conveyed in passages of music.
A clinical study from January 2019 that assessed the effect of a dopamine precursor (levodopa), dopamine antagonist (risperidone), and a placebo on reward responses to music – including the degree of pleasure experienced during musical chills, as measured by changes in electrodermal activity as well as subjective ratings – found that the manipulation of dopamine neurotransmission bidirectionally regulates pleasure cognition (specifically, the hedonic impact of music) in human subjects.
- Lucid dream
- Religious ecstasy
- Soma (in mythology)
- Recreational drug use
- Out of body experience (OBE)