What does „mystical“ mean in the context of experience with psychedelics? Critique of perennialism in experimental psychology



Year of publication 2020
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

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Description Experimental research on mystical experience induced by psychedelics suffers from two major problems. The general theoretical problem lies in the conceptualization of mystical experience, specifically in the idea that mystical experience is sui generis phenomena and that psychedelics like psilocybin or LSD are controllable shortcuts to this experience. The major methodological problem concerns primarily the theoretical background of mysticism scales, which are composed in the same (perennialistic) way as the theory. Therefore, psychedelic experience with a sustained positive outcome is primarily seen as mystical. We will try to show that considering experience with psychedelics mystical is not theoretically tenable. However, we cannot ignore that higher subjective ratings of mystical experience can predict sustainable positive changes in participants. Therefore, we argue that the concept of universal mystical experience should be replaced by more empirically valuable subjective ratings of experience with psychedelics.
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