Working with Weirdness: A Response to “Moving Past Mysticism in Psychedelic Science”

In this opposing viewpoint to ‘Moving Past Mysticism‘, an article which argued that ‘mystical’ constructs are overly laden with beliefs and do not suffice objective measurement, it is argued that ‘mystical experiences’ have a rich history of scientific investigation as the authors lay out a brief summary of their underlying constructs and empiric validation. They argue that the sole reliance on brain-based explanations is essentially a type of ‘neuroenchantment’ that ignores the transformative impact of subjective experiences on people’s lives, behavior, and values. The authors state that research should remain open to all varieties of the psychedelic experience, including weird and extraordinary states that do not conform to western culture and its expectations.


“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.”

Authors: Joost Breeksema & Michiel van Elk

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