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date: 12 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews the effects of a special category of environments on cognitive and cognitive/emotional processes. These extreme and unusual environments (EUEs) are characterized by drastic differences from the individual’s accustomed milieu, and by posing serious challenges to well-being, health, and survival. There is a massive and wide-ranging body of writing on this topic, from history, anthropology, sociology, literature, and biography, as well as from psychology. The chapter covers information from studies of religion and ritual, mysticism, exploration, spaceflight, artistic endeavor, psychotherapy, and laboratory experiments. Sojourners in EUEs have experienced changes in memory and cognitive performance, perceptual anomalies, states of dissociative fugue, and unusual flights of imagination, among other consequences. Both positive and negative effects have been found and are discussed.

Keywords: extreme, exploration, environment, cognition, spaceflight

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