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Transliminality (literally, "going beyond the threshold") was a concept introduced by the parapsychologist Michael Thalbourne, an Australian psychologist who was based at the University of Adelaide. It is defined as a hypersensitivity to psychological material (imagery, ideation, affect, and perception) originating in (a) the unconscious, and/or (b) the external environment (Thalbourne & Maltby, 2008). High degrees of this trait have been shown by Thalbourne to be associated with increased tendency to mystical experience, greater creativity, and greater belief in the paranormal, but Thalbourne has also found evidence that transliminality may be positively correlated with psychoticism. He has published articles on transliminality in journals on parapsychology and psychology.
Measurement and correlates
The original transliminality scale had 29 items. A revised version with 17 items was developed to eliminate bias associated with age and gender differences. The revised version of the transliminality scale includes items assessing magical ideation, mystical experience, absorption, hyperaesthesia, manic experience, dream interpretation, and fantasy proneness.
- lucid dreams
- archetypal dreams - dreams "carrying a sense of awe and fascination and/or encounters with strange and unusual beings"
- fantastic nightmares - upsetting and very vivid memorable dreams, involving a range of negative emotions
- prelucid dreams - where one questions whether one is dreaming but cannot decide
- control dreams - control not possible in waking life is exercised in the dream
- posttraumatic nightmares - a traumatic real event is relived
- night terrors - awakening in terror with no recall of dream content
Transliminality is positively correlated with openness to experience and negatively correlated with tough-mindedness and self-control from the 16PF Questionnaire. Some of the item content assesses absorption and the scale is therefore correlated with the Tellegen Absorption Scale. Transliminality is conceptually similar to Ernest Hartmann's concept of "boundaries of the mind" and accordingly is correlated with the Boundary Questionnaire.
- Lange, R., Thalbourne, M.A., Houran, J., & Storm, L. (2000). The Revised Transliminality Scale: Reliability and Validity Data From a Rasch Top-Down Purification Procedure. Consciousness and Cognition, 9, 591-617
- Thalbourne, M.A., Bartemucci, L., Delin, P.S., Fox, B. & Nofi, O. (1997). Transliminality: Its Nature and Correlates. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 91, 305-332
- Thalbourne, M.A. & Delin, P.S. (1994) A common thread underlying belief in the paranormal, mystical experience and psychopathology Journal of Parapsychology, 58, 3-38
- Thalbourne, M.A. & Delin, P.S. (1999). Transliminality: Its Relation to Dream Life, Religiosity and Mystical Experience. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 9, 45-61
- Thalbourne, M.A. & Houran, J. (2005). Patterns of Self-Reported Happiness and Substance Use in the Context of Transliminality. Personality and Individual Differences, 38, 327-336
- Thalbourne, M.A. & Maltby, J. (2008).Transliminality, thin boundaries, Unusual Experiences, and temporal lobe lability. Personality and Individual Differences, 44, 1617–1623.