The traditional use of psychoactive plants in spiritual and shamanic rituals has continued for thousands of years, apparently, while the use of these substances recreationally, scientifically and therapeutically in the developed world has also grown steadily in the last century as ever more plants are discovered and new synthetic chemicals are created. Since the earliest clinical, anthropological and anecdotal reports of the use of these powerful psychoactive substances they have been associated with all manner of strange and anomalous experiences, ranging from the mystical to the downright weird. With the recent return to academic research of these substances with humans after a 40-year hiatus the question arises as to what to make of these highly prevalent anomalous experiences and what can be gained from studying them clinically, psychologically, neuroscientifically, and indeed ontologically.
Dr David Luke is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich where he has been teaching an undergraduate course on the Psychology of Exceptional Human Experience since 2009. His research focuses on anomalous experiences and altered states of consciousness, especially via psychedelics, having published more than 100 academic papers in this area, including seven books, such as Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience (2017) and the co-authored textbook Anomalistic Psychology (2012). David is also director of the Ecology, Cosmos and Consciousness salon at the Institute of Ecotechnics, London, and is a cofounder and director of Breaking Convention: International Conference on Psychedelic Consciousness. He has given over 200 invited public lectures and conference presentations, won both teaching and research awards, organised numerous festivals, conferences, seminars, retreats and expeditions, has studied techniques of consciousness alteration from South America to India, and he lives life on the edge, of Sussex.
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Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience