20th Annual Conference of the Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section
Friday 7 - Saturday 8 September 2018
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.
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.
Presentation rooms are on the ground floor.
Pre conference informal discussion - Tuke T010
THURSDAY 6 September
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
AM : Paranormal and anomalous experiences
Prof Chris Roe (Northampton) - Making sense of exceptional experience
10.35 Paranormal experiences
Ross Friday & Dr David P Luke (Greenwich) - Now see hear! Detecting being watched or listened to via extrasensory-means
PM : Psychedelics and induced exceptional experiences
Dr Milan Scheidegger (Zurich) - Neuroepistemology of drug-induced exceptional experiences
15.30 Induced exceptional experiences
Dr Oliver Mason (Surrey) - Sensory deprivation and anomalous experience. Who, why and how?
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.
SATURDAY 8 September
7.45/8.00 Meditation (TBC)
AM : Exceptional experiences, belief and outcome
Prof Etzel Cardeña (Lund) - Derangement of the senses or alternate epistemological pathways? Research on alterations of consciousness and human potential
10.30 Stream A: Spontaneous exceptional experiences
Dr John NT Martin (Open University) - The need for a ‘natural history’ of spontaneous ‘exceptional experiences’
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
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
16.15 Making sense of exceptional and mystical experiences and implications for consciousness
Prof Fraser Watts (Lincoln) - A two factor theory of exceptional experience
17.30 Short break
Panel discussion, delegate questions and comments with Prof Etzel Cardeña & Prof Chris Roe
18.15 Informal discussion
Dr Elaine Finkelstein (TELERF) - An exploration of commonalities across different types of exceptional human experience suggests a different view of reality
Submissions and Bursary applications have now closed.
Please note that those presenting at the conference need to register.
Registration has now closed.
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.
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.
Regents University is not far from Euston, St Pancras/Kings Cross and Paddington mainline rail stations.
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.
Get a coach to Victoria Coach Station, then the London Underground from Victoria underground station to Baker Street station.
Heathrow, Gatwick, London City and London-Luton are the nearest airports. Trains depart about every 15 minutes from each of them.
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:
Otherwise check: https://en.parkopedia.co.uk.
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.
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
Cheaper ensuite rooms
More expensive ensuite rooms
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.
Express lunches nearby
Slightly more expensive restaurants
Local sights include:
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.