Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section

Annual Conference

EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCES

20th Annual Conference of the Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section

Friday 7 - Saturday 8 September 2018

Regents University, Regents Park, London

This conference will explore exceptional experiences such as mystical, spiritual, psychic, NDE and other 'anomalous' experiences whether occurring spontaneously or induced through meditation or psychedelics for example. It will also address experiences engendered through the use of psychedelics. Exceptional experiences can involve a sense of interconnectedness, a wider sense of self, a sense of peace, joy, bliss, awe and may be perceptually intense. In some cases they appear to offer exceptional knowledge and in many instances such exceptional experiences have a positive transformative effect on the experient.

The conference will look at the nature of exceptional experiences, pertinent psychological factors, recent research on what is happening in the brain in altered states and the benefits of exceptional experience seen for example in recent work on the potential therapeutic benefit of various psychedelics. All welcome.

 

Keynote Speakers

Professor Etzel Cardeña (Lund University)

Derangement of the senses or alternate epistemological pathways? Research on alterations of consciousness and human potentials

Certain traditions in both the West and the East have deemed the ordinary state of consciousness as circumscribed and potentially misleading, and have described alternate states of consciousness that may provide new insights into the nature of mind. This presentation will briefly describe some of the constraints of the ordinary state of consciousness. Next, it will cover research on how spontaneous or purposefully induced (e.g., through hypnosis, or meditation) anomalous experiences and alterations of consciousness relate to the enhancement of abilities, including decreased perceptual and cognitive automaticity; enhanced physiological control; recovery from different ailments; and positive changes in emotions, sense of meaning, and relationships with others and the environment. The final section will review research evidence for a daring claim about alternate states of consciousness: that they may give access to information not bound by common sense notions of time, space, and selfhood.

Etzel holds the Thorsen Chair in Psychology and directs the Center for Research on Consciousness and Anomalous Psychology (CERCAP) at Lund. He is a Fellow in the APS and APA. His areas of research include alterations of consciousness and anomalous experiences, dissociative processes and acute posttraumatic reactions, the neurophenomenology of hypnosis and meditation, and the stream of consciousness during waking and altered states. He was a postdoctoral fellow and scholar resident at Stanford University. He has more than 300 publications in the American Journal of Psychiatry, American Psychologist, Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Current Directions in Psychological Science, and Psychological Bulletin etc. and various awards for his empirical, theoretical, and pedagogical contributions. His books include Varieties of Anomalous Experience (2014, APA) and Altering Consciousness: Multi-disciplinary Perspectives (2011) (see our reading list for details).

 

Dr Milan Scheidegger (University of Zurich)

Neuroepistemology of drug-induced exceptional experiences

Psychoactive plants have been used in ritualistic contexts throughout human history to induce exceptional experiences for therapeutic and psycho-spiritual purposes. Nowadays, in the context of the renaissance of psychedelic research, psychoactive drugs could serve as promising epistemological tools for the scientific exploration of altered states of consciousness. In this talk, I will give an overview about how drug-induced exceptional experiences can be explained from the perspective of contemporary neuroscience. In particular, advanced neuroimaging technologies provide exciting novel insights into the brain dynamics underlying pharmacologically induced altered states of consciousness. Beyond shaping social and cultural evolution, psychedelic states also raise profound philosophical questions about the nature of subjective experience and the creation of meaning in living systems. Interfaces between different epistemological perspectives such as pharmacology, neuroscience, biosemiotics, philosophy of mind, and deep ecology will be explored.

Milan has an academic background in medicine, neuroscience, philosophy, and psychiatry. His MD-PhD degree was in functional and molecular neuroimaging from the Institute for Biomedical Engineering (University and ETH Zurich). He is currently researching the neurobiology and pharmacology of altered states of consciousness as a resident physician at the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics (University Hospital of Psychiatry, Zurich). He is member of the Swiss Society for Psycholytic Therapy (SAEPT) and investigates the potential of psychedelics such as ketamine, psilocybin, ayahuasca and DMT to facilitate therapeutic transformation. On his ethnobotanical expeditions to Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, he explored the traditional use of psychoactive plants in indigenous rituals.

 

Professor Chris Roe (University of Northampton)

Making sense of exceptional experiences

Surveys consistently show that between a third and two thirds of people report belief in a range of so-called 'paranormal phenomena'. Levels of belief seem to be independent of geographic region and culture, and such phenomena have been reported throughout recorded history. The most significant driver of paranormal belief is personal experience. In this talk I will draw on research conducted over the last 20 years (including case collections, interviews, and experiments) to elucidate the range of phenomena experienced and the approaches used in parapsychology to investigate them, looking at how such experiences can be accounted for in conventional psychological terms, associated psychological factors, and subjecting claims to experimental test under controlled conditions that potentially rule out normal explanations.

Chris is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes at Northampton, and Perrott-Warrick Senior Researcher (Trinity College, Cambridge). His research interests concern understanding the nature of anomalous experiences including the phenomenology of paranormal experience, the psychology of paranormal belief and deception, and experimental approaches to test claims for extrasensory perception and psychokinesis. His recent research concerns the relationship between altered states of consciousness and psychic experience. He is Chairman of the British Psychological Society Transpersonal Psychology Section, Past-President of the Parapsychological Association and a Council Member of the Society for Psychical Research. He is on the editorial board for the Journal of Parapsychology, Journal of the Society for Psychical Research and the Transpersonal Psychology Review and has published over 100 journal papers and book chapters.

 

Programme

ROOMS

Presentation rooms are on the ground floor.

Pre conference informal discussion - Tuke T010

Registration - Tuke Common Room (TCR T015A)

Presentations - Tuke Common Room (TCR T015B)

Smaller Saturday morning smaller stream - Tuke Common Room (TCR T015D) or Tuke 009

Posters - Tuke Common Room (TCR T015A)

On-site accommodation - Reid Hall and Oliver building

 

THURSDAY 6 September

Evening

19:30  Pre-conference informal meeting - Tuke 010

Dr Jane Henry (Open) - Personal Exceptional Experiences - an informal discussion. Please email Jane at [email protected] before attending

21:15  Pub social - The Windsor Castle

(Address and details under Pubs & Restaurants below, some people may arrive earlier)
 

FRIDAY 7 September

8.20    Registration

AM : Paranormal and anomalous experiences

9.00    Introduction

9.05    Keynote

Prof Chris Roe (Northampton) - Making sense of exceptional experience

10.05  Coffee

10.35  Paranormal experiences

Ross Friday & Dr David P Luke (Greenwich) - Now see hear! Detecting being watched or listened to via extrasensory-means

Dr Nicola Lasikiewicz & Dr Hannah Heath (Chester) - Exploring the construction of a paranormal experience in relation to paranormal belief using story completion

Dr Anna Stone (UEL) - An avowal of prior scepticism enhances the credibility of an account of a paranormal event

Dr Nicola Holt (UWE) - Does ‘altered consciousness’ mediate the relationship between art-making and wellbeing? An experience sampling study

12.35  Posters

13.00  Lunch

 

PM :  Psychedelics and induced exceptional experiences

14.00  Keynote

Dr Milan Scheidegger (Zurich) - Neuroepistemology of drug-induced exceptional experiences

15.00  Tea

15.30  Induced exceptional experiences

Dr Oliver Mason (Surrey) - Sensory deprivation and anomalous experience. Who, why and how?

Dr Devin B Terhune (Goldsmiths, UoL) & Dr David P Luke (Greenwich) - Acquired synaesthesia following the use of psychedelics

Vlad Kolodin (UCL) & Kalissa Dosbayeva (Khazakhstan Medical) - Realist review of the relationship between different types of psychedelic drug, states of psychedelic experience and psychological outcomes

17.00  Posters

17.15  Break

17.30  Film

Bufo Alvarius - The Underground Secret - Film (78 minutes) featuring Prof Stanislav Grof, Octavio Rettig Hinojosa (a shaman) and experients discussing their experiences with DMT, a powerful psychedelic. The film has subtitles. It will be followed by a short discussion.

19.00  Reception

20.00  Dinner

 

SATURDAY 8 September

7.45/8.00 Meditation (TBC)

8.45    Registration

AM : Exceptional experiences, belief and outcome

9.00    Keynote

Prof Etzel Cardeña (Lund) - Derangement of the senses or alternate epistemological pathways? Research on alterations of consciousness and human potential

10.00  Coffee

10.30  Stream A: Spontaneous exceptional experiences

Dr John NT Martin (Open University) - The need for a ‘natural history’ of  spontaneous ‘exceptional experiences’

Erica Brostoff (BPS) - Toward the future understanding of premonition as a scientifically-valid exceptional experience

Dr Christine Simmonds-Moore (West Georgia) & C O’Gwin (NW Missouri State) - A survey on the correlates and nature of subjective apparitional experiences

Dr Elaine Finkelstein (TELERF) - Specific cases of near-death and transient death experiences that question the current view of consciousness and highlight their transformative impact

10.30  Stream B: Exceptional experiences: belief, meaning and setting

Alice Herron (Surrey) & Prof Adrian Coyle (Kingston) - Godless mystics: An exploration of mystical-type experiences of self-identifying atheists: Towards a grounded theory

Katarina Johansson (Lund) - Belief in unexplainable phenomena and meaning making in a secular late modern society (Sweden)

Dr Madeleine Castro (Leeds-Beckett) - Ineffability and the social psychology of transcendent experiences

Nell Aubrey (UCL) - Super-natural habitat

12.30  Posters

12.45  Lunch

13.45  CEP Meeting/AGM

PM : Transpersonal psychology and mystical experience

14.15  Transpersonal psychology symposium

Dr Scott Buckler (Nottingham) - Maslow's concept of the plateau experience: An introduction and direction for future research

Dr Steve Taylor (Leeds-Beckett) - Can the exceptional become normal? The possibility of ‘post-traumatic transformation’ following bereavement

Dr Madeleine Castro (Leeds-Beckett) - Looking at transcendent exceptional human experiences (TEHEs) through a feminist transpersonal lens

15.45  Tea

16.15  Making sense of exceptional and mystical experiences and implications for consciousness

Prof Fraser Watts (Lincoln) - A two factor theory of exceptional experience

Prof Max Velmans (Goldsmiths, UoL) - Understanding mystical experience

17.30  Short break

17.35  Panel

Panel discussion, delegate questions and comments with Prof Etzel Cardeña & Prof Chris Roe

18.15  Informal discussion

18.30  Close

 

POSTERS

Dr Elaine Finkelstein (TELERF) - An exploration of commonalities across different types of exceptional human experience suggests a different view of reality     

Dr Nicola Lasikiewicz (Chester) - Exploring perceived stress and coping in relation to paranormal belief & experience

Dr Kaja Julia Mitrenga, B Alderson-Day, J Moffat, P Moseley & C Fernyhough (Durham) - Felt presence experiences in extreme and endurance sports

Ga in Shin, LH Goldstein & S Pick (Kings College London) - Evidence for subjective emotional numbing following induced acute dissociation

 

Call for Papers, Submissions & Bursaries

Submissions and Bursary applications have now closed.

Please note that those presenting at the conference need to register.

 

Registration & Pricing

Registration has now closed.

 

Directions

Regents University, Inner Circle, Regents Park, London NW1 4NS

Regents University is situated in the southwest of Regents Park in Central London.

Map of location in London https://www.regentsevents.co.uk/about/map-directions/

Map of campus buildings and neighbourhood including some bus, Underground and train locations (pdf download) here.

Map of campus rooms (pdf download) here.

The main conference presentation room is the Tuke Common Room (TCR) on the ground floor. Reception can direct you.

Walking

It is possible to walk from Baker Street and Regents Park underground stations or Euston train station to Regents University. From Marylebone Road, take the road York Gate heading north on the east side of Madame Tussauds. Follow the road into Regents Park and over the bridge. The main entrance to the university is on your left-hand side.

'Transport for London' (and Baker Street)

The nearest London Underground (Tube) station is Baker Street. Take Marylebone Road exit from Baker Street underground station, then a 10 minute walk or few minutes taxi ride or bus east along Marylebone Road to York Gate and walk into Regents Park.

The Transport for London website tfl.gov.uk and Google Maps provide general information about public transport around London.

Train

Regents University is not far from Euston, St Pancras/Kings Cross and Paddington mainline rail stations.

  • Eurostar to St Pancras International, then follow signs to London Underground and take underground from King’s Cross St Pancras to Baker Street, or get a bus west along Marylebone Road (6 lane highway) to York Gate or Madame Tussauds. 
  • From the West, take a train to Paddington, then London Underground to Baker Street. 
  • From the Midlands and North take a train Euston or Kings Cross, then either walk to Regents University, or get the London Underground (either from Euston Square or Kings Cross St. Pancras to Baker Street station) or bus west along Marylebone Road to York Gate or Madame Tussauds.
  • From the South take a train to Victoria then the London underground to Baker Street.
  • From the East take a train to Liverpool Street station, then the underground to Baker Street.

Taxi

Taxis are available at Euston, St. Pancras, Kings Cross, Victoria and Paddington, airports and all main train stations plus in the street. You can hail taxi-cabs in the busy Marylebone Road. Minicabs and Uber are much cheaper than taxis. Airports may have a list of minicabs at the Information desk.

Coach

Get a coach to Victoria Coach Station, then the London Underground from Victoria underground station to Baker Street station.

Airports

Heathrow, Gatwick, London City and London-Luton are the nearest airports. Trains depart about every 15 minutes from each of them.

  • Heathrow - take Heathrow Express train service to Paddington, then London Underground (Tube) to Baker Street station and walk or taxi to Regents University on Inner circle in Regents Park. Total journey time 35 minutes once on train. Cheaper and slower train from Heathrow available.
  • Gatwick - take Gatwick Express train service to Victoria Station, then Underground from Victoria to Baker Street. Cheaper and slower train from Gatwick available. 
  • London City Airport - take the Docklands Light Railway to Canning Town station, then Underground to Baker Street. Total journey time approximately 45 minutes.
  • London Luton - take airport bus to train station (Luton Parkway) and then Thameslink train to St Pancras (train heading south) normally takes 35 minutes. Then either take tube to Baker Street, or bus West along Marylebone Road to York Gate, or walk or taxi to Regents University. 

Driving

When in central London take the A502 (Marylebone Road) and turn into York Gate. Cross York Bridge and Regents University is on your left-hand side.

There is some parking on-site at Regents University in officially marked areas but this is on a first-come first-served basis. Please keep off all grass. No parking is allowed on any grass areas.

Alternative pre-booked car parking include:

  • Q-Park, Church Street, Penfold Street, NW8 8BG. £14 per day.
  • Bell Street Car Park, 5 Bell Street Paddington, NW1 5BZ. £25 per day.

Otherwise check: https://en.parkopedia.co.uk.

 

Accessibility

The main presentation room, the Tuke Common Room, the Refectory and Brasserie (location of conference dinner) are wheelchair accessible and on the ground floor. There are ramps throughout most of the site to help. There is a wheelchair lift behind the campus reception to manage the eight or so steps down to the Quad. Delegates using wheelchairs generally use this when entering and leaving the site and the security staff at reception can assist with it. There is a path that leads from the Tuke Common Room side door to Reid Hall (for on-site accommodation). 

Information on disabled parking, dropping off, induction loops, supportive seating, and emergency evacuation is available here.

Please email us at [email protected] if you have any additional requirements.

 

Hotels

Regents University offers a local map and link to local hotels at www.hotelmap.com/M9UYJ that shows price, availability and approximate walking distance from Regents University. If you prefer to book by phone, you can also call their dedicated London concierge, on 020 7292 2335 (if outside UK +44 20 7292 2335) quoting Special Reference Code M9UYJ. Comparison sites such as booking.com, hotels.com, or Google Maps also provide information on hotel accommodation (prices may go up on return searches as you collect cookies). Airbnb.co.uk may offer cheaper accommodation.

A selection of local hotels follows. Minutes given are approximate walking distance from Regents University. London hotels can book up early and will increase substantially in price above the levels indicated (except our on-site rooms). You are advised to book as soon as possible.

Cheaper rooms with shared bathroom

  • Regents University Reid Hall (on-site). Single rooms £78 per night (cheaper twin & triple rooms also available). Use registration link above to book.
  • LSE Carr-Saunders Hall. 18-24 Fitzroy Street W1T 4BN. T: +44 (0)207 955 7676/427 0050. From £50 (single & twin with shared bathroom, ensuite twin). 19 minutes walk away.
  • YHA London Central Hostel. 104 Bolsover St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 5NU. T: +44 (0)345 371 9154. Dorm beds from £17, private rooms from £65 (also with ensuite). 17 minutes.

Cheaper ensuite rooms

  • Travel Lodge Marylebone, Harewood Row, NW1 6SE. T: +44(0)871 984 6311. ***, from £79. Near Marylebone train station. 11 minutes.
  • The Fitzroy Hotel, 41 Fitzroy St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 6DZ. T: +44(0)20 7387 7919. **, from £49. 16 minutes.
  • Britannia Hampstead, Primrose Hill Rd, London NW3 3NA. T: +44(0)871 222 0043. ***, from £53. 30 minutes walk through several parks.

More expensive ensuite rooms

  • Americana Hotel, 172-174 Gloucester Pl, Marylebone, London NW1 6DS. T: +44 (0)20 7723 1452. ***, from £104. 6 minutes.
  • Danubius Hotel Regents Park, 18 Lodge Rd, St. John’s Wood, London NW8 7JT. T: +44 (0)207 722 7722. ****, from £125. By Lords Cricket Ground with a 15 minute walk through the park.
  • Hotel La Place, 17 Nottingham Pl, Marylebone, London W1U 5LG. T: +44 (0)20 7486 2323. ****, from £108. 6 minutes.
  • Nottingham Place Hotel, 37 Nottingham Place W1U 5LT. T: +44 (0)207 487 8100. ****, from £100. 6 minutes.

 

Breakfasts, Restaurants & Pubs

Some local restaurants and pubs include the following (in order of increasing food price). Price ranges are for main course only (excluding sides etc). All have vegetarian options. Other diets (vegan, halal, gluten-free) are indicated below although you may also be able to request special diets elsewhere.

Breakfasts nearby

Express lunches nearby

Cheap restaurants

  • Ali Baba, 32 Ivor Pl, NW1 6DA. Middle Eastern, £6-12, 4.5*, closes 11.30pm
  • The Real Greek, 56 Paddington St, W1U 4HY. £4-7, 4.2*, includes vegan, gluten free, closes 10pm
  • Yo! Sushi, 194 Baker St, Marylebone, London NW1 5RT. Up to £9.50, 3.9*, includes vegan, closes 10pm

Medium-priced restaurants

  • Nando’s, 113 Baker St, W1U 6RS. Afro-Portugese specialising in chicken, £8-13 4.2*, includes, vegan, halal, closes 11.30pm
  • Twist, 42 Crawford St, W1H 1JW. International tapas with bar, £12-13.50, 4.8*, closes 11.30pm
  • Pizza Express, 133 Baker St, W1U 6SF; also 215-217 Great Portland St, W1W 5PN. £10-15, 3.8*, includes vegan, halal, gluten-free, closes midnight
  • Bill’s, 119-121 Baker St, W1U 6RY. Contemporary European, £10-20, 4.2*, includes vegan, closes 11pm

Slightly more expensive restaurants

  • Trishna, 15-17 Blandford St, W1U 3DG. Indian, Michelin star 2012, £11-32, 4.3*, closes 10.30pm
  • Clipstone, 5 Clipstone St, W1W 6BB. British, award winning, £19-28, 4.6*, closes 10pm
  • Winter Garden, The Landmark Hotel, 222 Marylebone Rd, NW1 6JQ. Modern European, 2 AA Rosettes, grand hotel atrium, £18-42, 4.5*, closes 10.30pm

Pubs

  • The Metropolitan Bar, 7 Station Approach, NW1 5LA. Spacious with ornate columns, cask marque, good cocktails, meals £6.50-12.50 including vegan, gluten-free ingredients, closes 11.30pm
  • The Sir John Balcombe, 21 Balcombe St, NW1 6HE. Quiet road, bright, piano, real ales, British food, £9-12 including vegan, closes 11pm
  • The Windsor Castle, 98 Park Rd, NW1 4SH. Airy with original Georgian features and fire, real ales, meals £9-12.50, closes midnight
  • Allsop Arms, 137-143 Gloucester Place, NW1 5AL. Traditional dark wood interior, meals £9-14.50, closes 11pm
  • The Globe, 43-47 Marylebone Rd, NW1 5JY. Traditional strip floor, cask ales, meals £10-15 including vegan, closes 11.30pm
  • The Beehive, 126 Crawford St, W1U 6BF. Open fire, meals £9.50-16, closes 11pm

Gastropubs

  • The Volunteer, 245-247 Baker St, NW1 6XE. Light with whitewashed panelling, craft beers and ales, British food, reservations required, £9-16, including vegan, closes midnight.
  • The Albany, 240 Great Portland St, W1W 5QU. Comedy and music some nights, craft beers & cask ales, late night food £10.50-16.50 including vegan (also opposite Pizza Express), closes midnight/ 2am
  • The Prince Regent, 71 Marylebone High St, W1U 5JN. Flamboyant with chandelier and mirrors, real ales, meals £13-16.50 including vegan, closes 11pm

 

Local Sights

Local sights include:

Near

  • Madame Tussauds - on Marylebone Rd next to Baker Street Station, southeast of Regents University.
  • The Sherlock Holmes museum – on Baker Street, west of Regents University
  • London Zoo - northeast side of Regents Park
  • Lords Cricket Ground - northwest of Regents Park.

Further away

  • British Library - east of Regents Park, near St Pancras Stations.
  • University College London - southeast of Regents Park.
  • Bloomsbury - southeast of Regents Park.
  • Abbey Rd Studios - northwest of Regents Park.
  • Camden Market - north of Regents Park.
  • Oxford Street - clothes shops south of Regents Park.

 

Further Details

Conference queries to [email protected]

Tell your friends and colleagues using the short weblink for this page: www.bps.org.uk/cep/exceptionalexperiences

Download our printable conference poster (pdf) for your department noticeboards here (updated 18 June with pricing information).

Please check back on this page for more information.