Committee Chair

Hood, Ralph W., Jr., 1942-

Committee Member

Huber, Thomas; Woolacott, Marjorie M.


Dept. of Psychology


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Light of a transcendental or divine nature is widely described in various mystical and religious traditions, and light with mystical qualities is reported in many nonordinary experiences studied today, most notably near-death and mystical experiences. Despite its significance to contemporary experiencers and much of religion and mysticism, empirical investigation of this phenomenon has been scant and scattered, and its quantitative measure has consisted of small numbers of items on a few scales measuring more general constructs. While the concept that this may be a unified phenomenon appearing in different ways and experiential contexts has been discussed in theoretical and philosophical work, no empirical investigation has yet explored it. This study aims to solidify mystical luminosity experience as a psychological construct for scientific study, by synthesizing existing theory and empirical findings into a working theoretical model and developing and validating a scale for its measurement.


I would first like to acknowledge God for the many blessings in my life which have allowed me to reach the privileged position of pursuing a graduate degree, among which perhaps the greatest are my mother and family, whose endless love and encouragement I would also like to acknowledge. I could not have completed this project without the guidance and support of Dr. Ralph W. Hood, who has served not only as academic supervisor but truly a mentor in my development as a researcher. The concept for this project was originally a longshot idea I tagged on to the end of a list of possible thesis topics, which I secretly found the most interesting but did not earnestly expect to be able to pursue at this early stage in my academic career, which he immediately saw the value in and encouraged me to choose. None of this would have happened without his guidance. I would also like to acknowledge my committee members Drs. Thomas Huber and Marjorie Woollacott, as well as Drs. Kristen Black and Paul Marshall, for their feedback, support, and suggestions throughout this thesis project. Last, but not least, I would like to acknowledge the organizations and individuals who assisted with recruitment for this study, particularly the teams at IANDS (Susan Amsden, Jan Holden, and others), NDERF (Jody Long), IMERE (Ross Kardwell), The Psychedelic Society, the DOPS at UVA (Dr. Marieta Pehlivanova), and Dr. Ravi Prakash, and finally my participants, who were willing to graciously take time out of their lives to provide information about their profoundly significant and fascinating experiences.


M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.




Light--Religious aspects; Experience (Religion); Mysticism


mysticism, NDE, divine light, luminosity, mystical experience



Document Type

Masters theses




x, 149 leaves





Date Available


Available for download on Monday, May 01, 2028

Included in

Religion Commons