Discussions of psychedelics and their role in therapy, spirituality and politics are often confounded by a fundamental, recurring paradox. On the one hand, proponents of psychedelics describe the invaluable benefits and transformations facilitated by a much-revered and perennial psychedelic experience. On the other hand, psychedelics are described as non-specific agents, i.e. agents whose effects are variable and crucially dependent on set and setting, or context. So how much of what we think we know about the psychedelic experience reflects the intrinsic effects of these agents, and how much is the product of historical moments and cultural forces that conspired to shape psychedelic effects and our understanding of the psychedelic experience?
Based on Ido Hartogsohn’s groundbreaking new book American Trip: Set, Setting and the Psychedelic Experience in the 20th Century (MIT Press, 2020), this webinar adds new depth to our understanding of the core psychedelic concept of set and setting by bringing it into historical and cultural context.
The webinar explores our evolving understanding of the concept of set and setting, and how shifting norms and ideas of Western culture have shaped and reshaped the psychedelic experience through the decades. While examining the historical and cultural forces that have shaped psychedelic experiences across space, time and culture, we will also explore novel perspectives that provide refreshing insight on the question, just what, after all, is at the core of the psychedelic experience?