ECSTASY , a term applied to a morbid mental condition, in which the mind is entirely absorbed in the contemplation of one dominant idea or object, and loses for the time its normal self-control. With this there is commonly associated the prevalence of some strong emotion, which manifests itself in various ways, and with varying degrees of intensity. This state resembles in many points that of catalepsy (q.v.), but differs from it sufficiently to constitute it a separate affection. The patient in ecstasy may lie in a fixed position like the cataleptic, apparently quite unconscious, yet, on awaking, there is a distinct recollection of visions perceived during this period. More frequently there is violent emotional excitement which may find expression in impassioned utterances, and in extravagant bodily movements and gesticulations. Ecstasy usually presents itself as a kind of temporary religious insanity, and has frequently appeared as an epidemic. It is well illustrated in the celebrated examples of the dancing epidemics of Germany and Italy in the middle ages, and the Convulsionnaires of St Medard at the grave of the Abbé Paris in the early part of the 18th century, and in more recent times has been witnessed during periods of religious revivalism. (See also Insanity and Neuropathology.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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