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Presenter: Philip Shenefelt, MD, ABMH
Uses of Altered States of Consciousness Experiences Related to Spiritual and Religious Aspects of Skin and Skin Disorders
Skin and skin disorders have had spiritual and religious dimensions often derived from induced altered states of consciousness experiences since ancient times. Skin, hair, and nails are visible to self and
others. The skin is a major sense organ for touch, pain, itch, heat, cold, pressure, and vibration. Skin also expresses emotions detectable by others through pallor, coldness, ?goose bumps?, redness, warmth, or sweating. How much skin is covered with what kind of coverings, scalp and beard hair cutting, shaving, and styling, skin and nail and hair coloring and decorating, tattooing, and intentional scarring of skin all have had and continue to have spiritual and religious significance, often derived originally from visions or other altered state of consciousness experiences. Persons with visible skin disorders have often been stigmatized or even treated as outcasts. Uses of spiritual and religious interactions with various skin disorders such as psoriasis, leprosy, and vitiligo are discussed.