Since the 16th century, scientists have been supporting that the nervous state which occurs during ascetic meditation is a pathological malady. It may resemble an ailment, but it is a rather strange one: it is completely subjected to the will of the eremite, who can control the pain he must bear. This “malady” bestows resistance on the body and drives out any fear one could have, including the fear of death.
Because some schizophrenics are as indifferent to pain as are hermits are, it has been truly easy for psychologists and psychoanalysts to associate ascetic meditation to some kind of a morbid state. However, the two are quite distinct phenomena. First of all, there is no schizophrenic state which we can access and leave at will, as mystics do when meditating. Schizophrenia is as objective as a malady can get. Secondly, ascetic methods do not manifest any electric discharges of the brain, as in the case of schizophrenics.
Ascetic meditation is based on the will that a subject has to enter an invisible realm that can offer a new insight into the idea of life itself. It clearly differs from the state inducted by drugs, for example, which create a pathological relationship to mood altering experience that has life damaging consequences.