Psychedelics, Madness, and Dialectics of the Will

The vexed ‘psychotomimetic model’ of psychedelics claims to offer insights into both psychedelic experiences and madness by placing these sets of experiences into conversation. A standard opposition to the model claims that psychedelic experiences are voluntary or ‘willed’, while madness is an affliction to be endured. In this talk, Dr. Tehseen Noorani will draw on phenomenological psychiatry and ethnographic data from a six-year study of emerging psychedelic therapeutics to trouble this opposition. His goal is to think afresh about the central role of trust and curiosity in how we engage with extreme experiences, whether pathologized or otherwise. The fourth speaker in the Centre for Access to Information and Justice (CAIJ) Psychedelics: Past, Present, Future Webinar Series.

Speaker: Dr. Tehseen Noorani is an anthropologist interested in the phenomenological and epistemic character of extreme experiences, and how these are understood through science and politics. He is completing a monograph tracing the renewed scientific and therapeutic interest in psychedelic experiences in the global North, exploring implications for theories of psychopathology and approaches to mental healthcare. This research is situated in the context of medicalization, a resurgence in New Age spirituality and the changing dynamics of the war on drugs. Tehseen conducted qualitative research with the Johns Hopkins Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit from 2013-2015, and was a member of the Wellcome Trust-funded project, Hearing the Voice, from 2018-2019. He has published for a range of audiences and in numerous journals on the topics of experiential knowledge, medicalization and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, including a recent article on the politics and paradoxes of psychedelic medicalizat.


Student Interest, Faculty Interest



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Free. All are welcome.


Agnieszka Doll: