Mystical Experience Questionnaire

The MEQ is a self-report measure that has been used to measure mystical-type experiences in laboratory studies of psychedelics. The scale was developed by Walter Pahnke in 1963 and covers the major dimensions of classic mystical experience: unity (internal and external), transcendence of time and space, noetic quality, sacredness, positive mood, and ineffability/paradoxicality. Variations of the MEQ exist; the MEQ-30 and the MEQ-43.

Find out more about Mystical Experience Questionnaire

Alternative name

Active? Yes

First used: 14 October 2021

Related Papers

Association between mystical-type experiences under psychedelics and improvements in well-being or mental health – A comprehensive review of the evidence
This review (2023, s=44) synthesizes the evidence for the association between mystical-type experiences and improvements in well-being and mental health. It finds the strongest evidence in cross-sectional studies and healthy people. Some studies suggest that psychological insight and emotional breakthroughs may be similarly or more closely associated with positive changes than mystical-type experiences.

Brain serotonin 2A receptor binding predicts subjective temporal and mystical effects of psilocybin in healthy humans
This fMRI study (n=16) found that pre-drug brain serotonin (5-HT) 2a receptor binding predicted the duration of subjective effects (peak and time to baseline) of psilocybin (14-21mg).

Isness: Using Multi-Person VR to Design Peak Mystical Type Experiences Comparable to Psychedelics
This study (n=57) assessed the experiences of people undergoing a Virtual Reality (VR) journey using the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ30). 'Isness' is a VR experience developed using concepts, methods and analysis strategies from psychedelic research. It was found that Isness participants reported Mystical Type Experiences comparable to those reported in double-blind clinical studies after high doses of psilocybin and LSD.

Psilocybin-Induced Mystical-Type Experiences are Related to Persisting Positive Effects: A Quantitative and Qualitative Report
In this open-label study (n=28), participants were administered medium-high doses of psilocybin (12-30mg) and reported the intensity of their experience using the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ). The Persisting Effects Questionnaire (PEQ) was administered 3-months after psilocybin administration. It was found that the total MEQ score was positively correlated with the later emergence of positive PEQ effects. Using natural language pre-processing, participants' qualitative reports of their experience were analysed to provide descriptions of the "Complete Mystical Experience."

Scoping Review of Experiential Measures from Psychedelic Research and Clinical Trials
This review (2022) investigates the subjective (experiential) measures that are being used in psychedelic trials and finds good correlations between mystical experiences (MEQ) and oceanic boundlessness and therapeutic/mood outcomes. Similar results (with fewer participants studied) are also found for challenging experiences, psychological insight, and emotional breakthroughs. Alas, not much comment is made about the construct validity of the measures.

Ketanserin reverses the acute response to LSD in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study in healthy subjects
This double-blind, placebo-controlled study (n=24) finds that ketanserin (40mg) administered one hour after LSD (100µg) reversed the effects cutting down the trip from an average of 8.5 to 3.5 hours. This is the first study to show that ketanserin can effectively stop/halt an ongoing psychedelic trip.

Group VR experiences can produce ego attenuation and connectedness comparable to psychedelics
This paper (2022) introduces "Isness-distributed" (Isness-D), a VR framework which harnesses the unique affordances of distributed multi-person VR to blur conventional self-other boundaries. To evaluate Isness-D,  the results of 4 different self-report scales previously applied to analyze subjective psychedelic drug phenomenology were analysed. Across all four scales, the Isness-D scores were statistically indistinguishable from recently published studies with psychedelic drugs highlighting the power of VR to develop self-transcendent experiences.

Mystical experiences occasioned by the hallucinogen psilocybin lead to increases in the personality domain of openness
This re-analysis from two psilocybin trials with hallucinogen-naïve subjects (n=52) looked at personality changes in participants. It found significant increases in openness (but not neuroticism, extroversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness), which remained higher than baseline for those who had a mystical experience up to a year.

Psychedelics, Mystical Experience, and Therapeutic Efficacy: A Systematic Review
This systematic review (s=12, 2022) finds a significant association between the mystical experience (MEQ) and psychedelic-assisted therapy (psilocybin, ketamine, ayahuasca) outcomes in ten of the 12 studies. Although promising, half of the studies were open-label and all with small sample sizes.

Psychedelic Experiences and Mindfulness are Associated with Improved Wellbeing
This preprint survey (n=1219) assessed the relationship between psychedelic use, mindfulness and wellbeing in people who engage in both meditation practices and psychedelic use. Mindfulness and mystical experiences were found to predict increases in wellbeing while psychedelic induced mystical experiences explain improvements in wellbeing.

Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance
This is one of the first (and key) double-blind, placebo-controlled studies (n=36) on psilocybin and its effect on 'healthy normals'. It shows that a high (30mg/70kg) dose can occasion mystical (peak) experiences (participants did already have a spiritual/religious practice beforehand). The experience is rated as personally meaningful. The participants exhibit positive mood (and lower anxiety) immediately and after two months.

Factor analysis of the mystical experience questionnaire: A study of experiences occasioned by the hallucinogen psilocybin
This two-part survey study (n=1602, n=440) examined the factor structure of the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ). This self‐report measure has been used to assess the effects of psychedelics in laboratory studies. The results provide initial evidence of the validity, reliability, and four-factor structure of a 30‐item scale for measuring single, hallucinogen‐occasioned mystical experiences.

Validation of the revised Mystical Experience Questionnaire in experimental sessions with psilocybin
This meta-analysis (2015) validates the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ30) using data from five experimental studies (n=184) with controlled doses of psilocybin (20mg/70kg).

Psychedelic experience dose-dependently modulated by cannabis: results of a prospective online survey
This survey study (n=321) explored the subjective effects of psychedelics when used alongside cannabis. It was found that the use of cannabis alongside classic serotonergic psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin led to a more intense psychedelic experience across a number of measures including; the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ) and the Ego Dissolution Inventory (EDI).

Related Trials

Exploratory Study of Low Dose Psilocybin
The purpose of the present study is to evaluate the feasibility, initial signals of efficacy, and potential mechanisms of action of "microdoses" of psilocybin in the treatment of moderate to severe demoralization.

Role of the Serotonin 5-HT2A Receptor in LSD-induced Altered States of Consciousness (LDR-Study)
 The present study explores the role the 5-HT2A receptor in LSD-induced altered states of consciousness using escalating doses of LSD and the 5-HT2A receptor blocker ketanserin administered before a high dose of LSD.

Visual Surround Suppression and Perceptual Expectation Under Psilocybin
The prospective study will address the critical need for more precise characterizations of the acute visual effects of the drug psilocybin by measuring the impact of acute psilocybin intoxication on a perceptual task known as visual surround suppression, compared to an active placebo control.

Pharmacogenetics Associated With IV Ketamine
The Canadian Rapid Treatment Center of Excellence (CRTCE) is a healthcare facility principally focused on providing best practices of intravenous ketamine treatment to adult patients suffering from treatment resistant depression. Patients who have received IV ketamine at the clinic are eligible to participate in this study where genetic biomarkers are correlated with response to IV ketamine.

Efficacy of Psilocybin in OCD: a Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study
This study aims to investigate the effects of oral psilocybin on OCD symptomatology and provide the first evidence of the neural mechanism that may mediate psilocybin's purported therapeutic effects on OCD.