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Journal Club #20

Discussion: moving past mysticism or working with weirdness in psychedelic science?

by Joost Breeksema, PhD (cand.); Michiel van Elk, PhD; Josjan Zijlmans, PhD & James Sanders, BSc

2 min

Two recent papers have been making waves in psychedelic science: "Moving Past Mysticism in Psychedelic Science" by Sanders and Zijlmans, and "Working with Weirdness: A Response to 'Moving Past Mysticism in Psychedelic Science'" by Breeksema and Van Elk. In this journal club, we are lucky enough to welcome the respective authors of the papers to present and discuss their ideas. Are these ideas reconcilable? Or is there a fundamental difference between these two approaches? Let's find out!

Short abstracts:
"Moving Past Mysticism"
The mysticism framework is used to describe psychedelic experiences and explain the effects of psychedelic therapies. We discuss risks and difficulties stemming from the scientific use of a framework associated with supernatural or nonempirical belief systems and encourage researchers to mitigate these risks with a demystified model of the psychedelic state.

"Working with Weirdness"
In response to a recent call to rid psychedelic science of the concept of mystical experience, we argue that acknowledging the varieties and weirdness of psychedelic experiences should be at the heart of any research program on this topic. We highlight the rich tradition and scientific tools for studying mystical-type experiences, their relevance for understanding the therapeutic effects of psychedelics, as well as the need for more diversity in the experiences and participants included in this research.

Our speakers are Joost Breeksema, PhD (cand.), Michiel van Elk, PhD, Josjan Zijlmans, PhD, and James Sanders, BSc.

For additional reading, we suggest the following:

When: Thursday, November 11th 2021 at 8pm
Location: Vrije Universiteit, HG-06A32 (that is VU Main Building, wing A, 6th floor, room 32)
Drinks: Afterwards, we meet at Tap Zuid for drinks, feel free to join!  

The event is free for APRA members.