The following are abstracts for the speakers’ 25-minute pre-recorded talks. These talks will be available in advance of the conference. The speakers will also present a live synopsis of their talks as the start of their panel discussions.


More than the Self: Humility, Gratitude and Interconnectedness


Current research on the use and application of psychedelics is focused on the treatment of mental ailments such as depression and addiction. This talk looks at alternative ways in which psychedelics can be beneficial to individuals and society, in particular the fostering of experiences of humility and gratitude, which in turn affect relationships with others and the world.

I start with a discussion of humility from a philosophical perspective and its links with gratitude, and the important role both experiences play in making meaning and defining one’s place in the world. I then explore experiences of unity and interconnectedness in psychedelic altered states of consciousness as encounters with something larger than the individual self within the conceptual framework of humility and gratitude.The talk concludes with a discussion of the importance to direct research towards the moral and social effect of psychedelics, especially in a time of social upheaval and environmental challenges.


Dr Taline Artinian is a philosopher and an honorary research fellow at the University of Exeter. Before her PhD in philosophy she worked as a clinical psychologist. Taline’s research interests include the philosophy of gratitude, the phenomenology of psychedelic altered states of consciousness and ethics of decolonization.


Scrap the Book: Polymodes, Metaphors, and the Psychedelic Skyline


This presentation introduces the tale of a trio: ‘Philosophy’, ‘Perception’, and ‘Language’—three of the (many) foundational systems that constitute human experience, whose entanglements have been eschewed by schismatic Western paradigms. I will discuss and demonstrate how creative metaphors can be used to resynthesize these concepts.

Consciousness-altering practices such as psychedelics can repattern and diversify not only individual perception, but cultural customs more generally. However, this potential is severely restricted if the systems that interact with human perception are unyielding; for most people, ingesting a psychedelic substance will invoke a significant modulation in their perception, however, modern psychedelic rhetoric (e.g., ‘ineffablility’ and ‘boundary dissolution’) suggests that most people—particularly monolingual adults educated in the West—cannot attest to a comparable facility to modulate their speech patterns or belief systems.

I will recontextualise one of the most ubiquitous metaphorical tropes in psychedelic discourse—‘cleansing the filter’—in terms of modern sound design, to demonstrate how small metaphorical adjustments can have colossal reverberations.

Keywords: culture, perception, language, metaphor, synthesizers


Reanne Crane is a PhD candidate (dissertation complete, awaiting viva) and Assistant Lecturer at the University of Kent. Her research focusses on consciousness modulation, metaphor, and linguistics. She has a background in teaching and translation, with an M.A. in Contemporary Literature, and a B.A. in Mandarin Chinese and English.

She is also a songwriter and bedroom music producer, with a particular interest in music metaphors and sound perception. 


The Politics of Spice in Dune


The Spice Melange is the beating heart of the Dune universe. While the resurgence of interest in Dune has sparked fresh research in the works, often unexplored is the tight relationship between the fictitious spice and author Frank Herbert’s real-world interest in psychedelia. A recentring of the psychedelic aspects of the Spice would not only allow for a bolstered understanding of the essential themes in Dune, but establish Herbert’s psychedelic literature and aesthetic as an object of study within the psychedelic renaissance.

In this talk we will explore Herbert’s personal relationship with psychedelics, and the presentation of the Spice within both the texts and cinematic adaptations. This will allow us to address the relationship between the themes of Dune and many of the core political themes within psychedelic studies. Further, the psychedelic elements of Herbert’s Spice run to the core of his primary themes; a deeply cautionary valorisation of the role of knowledge-seekers, and an appeal to be fearful of charismatic figures wielding “truth.”

Keywords: Frank Herbert, Mysticism, Aesthetics, Indigenous, Biopiracy.


Joseph Crickmore is a graduate student of Philosophy and Politics. He has been an active participant in Exeter’s Philosophy and Psychedelics Research Group since 2021 and is due to commence his PhD in September 2022.


Experimental Heresy: LSD and Religion in Britain


This presentation examines how the philosophy of religion informed a dialogue between psychiatry and Christianity over the value of LSD and other psychedelic substances in mid-twentieth century Britain. Paying attention to debates over what constituted a mystical experience, it argues that particular social values around sexuality and religious experience were embedded within wider historical forces during the period; namely, secularization and cultural reformation. LSD itself came to represent a heretical position outside orthodox standards of both medical and religious behaviour in Britain.


Robert Dickins, PhD, is a historian and publisher (Psychedelic Press). His research revolves around the literary and social history of psychoactive substances. 


Psychedelic Progress: Letter from America


There is an exceptional contemporary American prospect for political progress with psychedelics that derives from the intersection of indigenous people’s culture with a historically unique constitutional provision for religious exercise. American history and law reflects the country’s folk visionary tradition, which influenced both culture and counterculture. Revolutionary music and a world-changing technology emerged from the cultural moment of the 1960’s to challenge a misbegotten, politically inspired ‘war on drugs’ that now erodes in the current of American popular culture.


Leonard Gibson is an independent scholar and the founder of Dreamshadow Group, Inc., an educational nonprofit that fosters the creative application of exceptional experience. He holds a PhD in philosophy from Claremont University and a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. Lenny trained and certified in Holotropic Breathwork with Stanislav and Christina Grof. He has over 55 years of experience working with exceptional experience, including teaching and psychotherapy. He is also a farmer and amateur musician.


Ethical Issues and Ideology in Psychedelic Therapy. (Salvador Roquet’s Psycho-Synthesis)


This talk aims to analyse the psychedelic therapy or psycho-synthesis developed by the Mexican psychiatrist Salvador Roquet but from a philosophical approach. This talk is based on a specific case study in the Global South and intends to achieve a general overview of this “technology of the self” to highlight its contributions and possible implementation nowadays. However, this talk pretends to encourage the reflection on some sensitive and controversial issues embedded in psychedelic therapy, such as the medicalisation of psychedelics, ideologies and methodologies embedded in clinical trials, boundaries of cognitive freedom, improper dissemination of personal data, the commodification of indigenous knowledge, sexual harassment, conversion therapies, and even, torture. For instance, the main goal of psycho-synthesis was to reduce the time spent in the therapy process in comparison with psychoanalysis with the support of psychedelic substances and psychotherapy, this “technology of the self” worked well in a large number of patients, according to the records, but also has several “side effects”, especially regarding with its misuse due to the ideologies and the pressure and influence of political and health institutions. From a philosophical approach, this talk highlights that the meaning and scope of psycho-synthesis require a resignification and an implementation of ethical protocols to evaluate which elements are still functional nowadays and which ones must be discarded. 

Keywords: ethics, ideology, psychedelic therapy, medicalisation, psycho-synthesis.


Osiris González Romerois a postdoctoral fellow at University of Saskatchewan, Canada with the project: Cognitive Freedom and Psychedelic Humanities. Founding member of Via Synapsis, an academic society focused on the organization of the University Congress on Psychoactive Substances hosted since 2014 by the Faculty of Philosophy at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. 


Natural language processing of drug induced experiences – understanding the therapeutic potential of psychedelics through narrative reports


Despite their widespread use and therapeutic potential, psychedelics remain elusive with respect to the precise mechanisms of their therapeutic effect. Several prime candidate mechanisms are associated with subjective aspects of the psychedelic experience itself, such as: awe, transcendence, divination, unity, ego-dissolution, reverence, meaningfulness, insightfulness, and positive affect. A more comprehensive mapping between phenomenology and pharmacology may help researchers and clinicians better determine which psychedelic is best suited to treating which condition, at what doses, and within which protocol. Toward this aim, Natural Language Processing (NLP) – the use of computational algorithms and mathematical models to decipher natural language – appears to be a particularly fruitful avenue of research. Firstly, it allows researchers to begin bridging the gap between the subject and objective by transforming text/speech data into quantitative variables. Secondly, it allows for large streams of data to be analysed and novel approaches to be taken that were previously unavailable using more traditional methods. Early studies provide a solid foundation and glimpse into the exciting possibilities for this emergent area of research. However, given its infancy, further work is required to establish and refine appropriate methodologies, cross-validate findings, and test/generate further hypotheses. In this current line of research, we aim to build upon these existing studies by applying several NLP and Machine-Learning (ML) techniques and comparing across them in a large sample of narrative reports of acute drug induced experiences (trip reports).


Rennie has a background in Psychology (Bsc) and Cognitive-Neuroscience (PhD) and is currently working as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in a Psychopharmacology lab under Professor Celia Morgan at the University of Exeter. His present work focuses on using Natural Language Processing (NLP) in combination with Machine-Learning (ML) techniques to map between the phenomenological and pharmacological, with a view of helping both researchers and clinicians gain further insights into therapeutic potential of psychedelics.


The pluripotency of psychedelic transformations


Humans have an inherent need to make sense out of ambiguity in order to navigate the world. A process activated by awe, meaning making, is suggested to have played a key role in the emergence of religion and organised societies. Awe is an emotion exemplified in the psychedelic-induced mystical experience; in facilitating the opening of a liminal space of uncertainty, psychedelic substances suspend dependence on previous schemas. In consequence, psychedelics allow the creation of new pathways to understanding one’s self and world.

The ‘noetic’ quality of transcendent psychedelic experiences, a perception of ‘realness’, bestows a sense of validity upon insights that occur during a space of deep uncertainty. Considering evidence of enhanced plasticity and subsequent ontological shifts, psychedelic-induced transliminality may prove a double-edged sword. The substances may act as a catalyst for change, but the direction of the change may prove beneficial or cause harm.  In light of the recent push for medicalisation and policy changes, it is urgent to gain a deeper understanding of how these powerful experiences can differentially impact the trajectories of individuals.

The domination of the Psychedelic Renaissance evangelical narrative has driven media hype on claims of therapeutic potential, while silencing individual voices of long-term outcomes of distress. Further exploration of the psychedelic mechanism ought to be informed by multiple lived-experience perspectives, across the spectrum of transformative outcomes. This presentation will discuss issues around designing research conscious of the nuances of deep mind state narratives, their differential impact on individuals, and ethics of perspectival diversity and dynamics.

Keywords: awe, liminality, transformation, meaning, pluripotency


Eirini is a PhD student at Exeter, where she looks at the mechanism of psychedelic-induced transformation. She has a particular interest in liminal states of perspective shifting, socio-cognitive mechanisms, and their implications. With a background studying (the challenging of) norms, she is driven to examine the pendulum forces between probability and possibility.


Spirituality, Psychedelics, and Scientific Snags


This talk will explore the role of mystical experiences within psychedelic therapies, questioning whether themes such as the ‘mystical’ have any place within science and whether the therapeutic potential of psychedelics depends on this type of experience. It will then specifically look at the mediating role of ‘spiritual significance’ on mental health outcomes (using an example structural equation model), discussing the potential to ‘naturalise spirituality’ within psychedelics science. It will then shed light on various limitations often overlooked within path analyses (e.g., the validity of certain questionnaires, observed vs. latent variables, methods of mediation, pitfalls of cross-sectional data, and the separation of preregistered-hypothesis-testing from exploratory-hypothesis-generating analyses). Finally it will explore contributions from various philosophical and scientific thinkers regarding both the acute mystical experience and potential lasting changes in (metaphysical) beliefs as a result of these experiences, exploring the notion of ‘comforting delusions’ and the need for more research.

Key words: spirituality, neuroscience, psychedelic therapy, naturalism, dmt

Rosalind completed her BA in Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, where she specialised in neuroscience, social psychology, and developmental questions in science and religion. She completed her MRes in Developmental Neuroscience at Yale University and is now completing her Mental Health Science PhD at UCL. Her research focusses on uncovering psychedelic mechanisms of action, the use of psychedelics in traditional/retreat settings, and the development of effective preparation/integration programmes. 


Entity Encounters in Lysergic Literature: The History & Mystery of the Spectral Spectrum


In modern city cultures (as elsewhere), psychedelics have allowed artists to experience an encounter with their muses as independent-seeming entities. When we are moved to write, some have said that spirits do this work. But in the field of lysergic literature this is viscerally felt. The felt reality of such experiences leads to the question: do these entities have an independent interiority, or are they partly fragmented figments of a psychological whole? This paper discusses a spectrum of beliefs about the reality of spirits in the creative act, using two contrasting pieces of literature which have been explicitly inspired by psychedelics. This paper will employ the hermeneutics of Jorge Luis Borges and Carl Gustav Jung to reveal the implications in these two psychedelic texts from the 1990s.

The Southwark Mysteries (John Constable) and The Rose of Paracelsus (William Leonard Pickard) represent opposite poles. The former involves an encounter through history with an under-represented and abused minority in medieval and early modern London. In the former, the text is explicitly received – authorship is outsourced directly to the spirit/s in question, who are also ancestors. The latter is a semi-fictionalised autobiography of a Harvard drug policy researcher who becomes convinced – via entities both somehow internal and external to him – of a utopian spirit lying dormant within the sacrament of lysergic acid diethylamide. Its spirits all occupy different religious and psycho-sexual frameworks and identities. One of these lysergic inspirations is a redemption of historical society; the other a vision of a fair, cognitively liberal future society.


Mark has been studying the sacramental drug-culture relationship for seven years, having presented his research in Tallinn, Harvard, Breaking Convention and Prague. His interests span theology, philosophy, anthropology and literature and he looks at the relationship between measurable exteriorities, immeasurable interiorities, ritual and value generation, comparativism and natural theology. Having studied at Oxford and Durham, Mark is also a published poet and is about to pursue a PhD here at Exeter in comparative drug culture.


Exploring the Philosophy and Phenomenology of Dissociation with the Ketamine Analogues


Idealism, Panpsychism and Cosmopsychism all state that consciousness, not matter, is the fundamental reality. In the beginning, there was only one universal consciousness, which was integrated. That consciousness was capable of endogenous experiential states but not capable of perceptual ones, it was all there was, and there was nothing beyond it to be perceived. This is the original state or the base state. Dissociation (or the forming of dissociative alter’s) is actually a requirement for perception, itself, to exist. This is because, through dissociation one mental space can break itself up, into seemingly distinct segments, and each of these segments is then capable of having experiences of its own. From a local perspective, a person with dissociative identity disorder can have multiple disjointed personalities or centres of experience. However, this can then be scaled up to the universal perspective, where consciousness itself undergoes dissociation, in order to exist as perception. During this talk we will explore what role the ketamine analogues (and the other arylcyclohexylamines) have in producing, interrupting and augmenting consciousness (perception) itself. Dissociatives are powerful tools in the exploration of these novel states because of their unique spectrum of properties. One of the most unique of these properties is the dissociative hole. We will explore the history, folklore, application areas, protocols and safety management of this ‘holing’ phenomenon. Combinations and dissociative training techniques will also be discussed. Friedrich Nietzsche’s theory of eternal recurrence will also be referenced alongside the claim that “without forgetting it is quite impossible to live at all”.


Carl Hayden Smith is the interim Head of Research, Director of the Learning Technology Research Centre (LTRC) and Principal Research Fellow at the Institute for Creativity & Technology, Ravensbourne University London. Carl is focused on using both the technological and biological means to alter, probe and study the spectral nature of consciousness. His research interests include Embodied Cognition, Spatial Literacy, Umwelt Hacking, Sensory Augmentation, Artificial Senses and Body Hacking.


Inner and Outer Ecosystems: Psychedelia and the Theory of Endosymbiosis


In 1967 Lynn Margulis coined the term endosymbiosis to describe eukaryotic cell evolution. In her paper Margulis did not only argue that three fundamental organelles: the mitochondria, the photosynthetic plastids and the basal bodies of flagella were once free-living cells, she also created the foundation for a much larger biological framework to explain symbiotic species interactions. Later, Margulis became a champion of the much-debated Gaia theory, originally put forward by James Lovelock, which proposes that earth’s biological systems are self-regulating and essentially operate as a single entity.

In this talk, I evaluate how the ideas of Margulis have matured in the light of the current findings in the field of microbiology, especially with the increased knowledge of the gut microbiome, which has in the recent decades revealed how our bodies and environment are inhabited by miniscule organisms which dominate human health and well-being. Endosymbiosis acts as a broader framework for understanding these interactions, especially those between humans, fungi, and bacteria. The title of my talk; Inner and Outer ecologies, reflects the realization of Lovelock and Margulis, that species interconnectedness and cooperation is in fact a foundational feature of evolution. As one of Marguleses’ students proposed: ‘Gaia is just symbiosis as seen from space’. This perspective offers us a curious lens through which to examine parts of the mechanisms that seem to underlie psychedelic experiences, such as increased attunement to the natural world and general feelings of unity and interconnectedness. 


Johanna Hilla Sopanen is pursuing a PhD at the University of Exeter in Philosophy, Psychology, and Religious studies (past: University of Groningen). She wrote her Master’s dissertation with Dr Bernardo Nante on the Red Book during an internship at Fundacion Vocacion Humana, a Jungian center in Buenos Aires. She has taught a course on the interlink between Depth Psychology and the psychedelic experience, offered by ‘Psychedelics Today’ forum. Her other interests include Transpersonal Psychology, Ecopsychology, Holotropic Breathwork, Process philosophy, and Western Esotericism. She is on the board of the Dreamshadow Group, Inc., a nonprofit organization focused on transpersonal education and Holotropic Breathwork.  

Sabina Wantoch

Psychedelics and psychosis: What can we learn from the intersections of these states of experience? And how does this implicate their framing in the consensus world?


Gazing at the psychedelic experience inevitably urges us to cast an eye upon madness – the ‘psychotic’ experience – since these states have some similarities. The psychedelic experience calls to question the psychotic experience; what are we to make of similar states of experience that are not instigated by a psychedelic compound; that come up seemingly uninvited?

Though this predicament has urged its way in to the psychedelic discourse, through the framework of ‘spiritual emergency’, this framework often redraws a binary between psychedelic or spiritual emergency experiences on one hand, and states of utter madness on the other.  This presentation will take a critical look at the factors that frame this dominant binary and question the role that the consensus framing of these states plays, in the ontological nature of madness.

How can philosophising about psychedelics implicate a critique of this binary framing? And how might a critique of the dominant framing of madness implicate a critique of the dominant framing of psychedelics?

Both states are, in Anglo-Western culture, framed by the institution of Psychiatry, and controlled through laws that sustain the Psychiatric-Industrial complex. This complex frames distress in terms of individual pathology, through which psychedelics are posited as healing medicines, and through which, madness is framed as a symptom and expression of individual pathology. I analyse the dominant framework of trauma, often linked to psychedelics’ therapeutic mechanism, arguing that a relational rather than individualised framing of trauma explodes and calls into paradox the Psychiatric-Industrial framing of psychedelics as healing medicine vs madness as individualised pathology to be cured.

Could states of madness be integrated into consensus reality, like Psychiatry promotes of psychedelic experience, rather than be erased? What is the role of set and setting in the psychotic experience? Is the set and setting of the dominant consensus framing on the matter of madness – Psychiatry – playing a significant role in its ontology?

Key words:

Psychosis, psychiatry, trauma, philosophy-of-medicine, critical theory


Sabina’s doctoral research (University of Sheffield) concerns anomalous (or ‘psychotic’) experiences; how their social framing may affect the very experiences themselves. Their research intersects phenomenology, critical psychiatry, feminism and philosophy of mind. This work informs and is informed by their relationship with psychedelics, and they advocate for allyship between psychedelics and madness.


A re-appraisal of the philosophy and influence of Huxley’s The Doors of Perception


Aldous Huxley’s 1954 mescaline adventures have exercised significant positive influence over public perception of the psychedelic experience.  However, I will argue that The Doors of Perception has two key areas that require attention in order to bring philosophical coherence to its literary weight. First, an elucidation of C.D. Broads influence on Huxley’s ‘Mind at Large’ argument; second, the basis of Huxley’s psychedelic aesthetic.  


Adrian Webb graduated in Philosophy from Nottingham University in 1987 and decided to delay starting a Masters. That delay was 34 years. Instead he went on to lead Marketing and Communications for companies including Virgin Money and esure Group plc before becoming a Board Director of Gocompare and Chairman of the London digital and research group, LAB. There he led a team who won two national grants for the development of novel ways to tackle gambling addiction and financial vulnerability in online environments. He gave up all corporate commitments to return to education on hearing about Exeter University’s Philosophy of Psychedelics Masters module. 


On the Ideology of Individualisation in the Medicalisation of Psychedelics.


The current medicalisation of psychedelics is fundamentally at odds with the holistic, therapeutic and personal benefits of the exceptional psychedelic experience. An opportunity which otherwise amplifies feelings of connectedness, unity, spiritual liberation and facilitates the re-establishment of personal narratives, within a medicalised psychiatric model, instead, reaffirms the latent sense of alienation and individualisation  (two major conditions of modern malaise) prevalent in our western rationalistic society.

This talk will mainly rest on the Foucauldian perspective of power and ethics, to inform such critique of the ideology of individualisation within the process of medicalisation. It will demonstrate the need for a revaluation of such processes, in aim of liberating the exceptional psychedelic experience from these frameworks, to enable the spectrum of benefits not just on an individual, therapeutic level, but also part of a wider social and perhaps even ecological motive.


Sara Zawistowska is a recent graduate at the University of Exeter, where she is also completing a masters in Philosophy of Mind. An ongoing participant of the psychedelic research group, her interests centre around consciousness, existentialism and metaphysics, with a focus on applying these findings forth to holistic approaches in wellness.