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Student Research Guide: Psychedelics: Where Spirituality and Science Converge.: Home

by Corinna Roberts

Introduction to the Topic


Psychedelics may be the place where science and spirituality converge. 

A renewed interest in psychedelic research among the scientific community has emerged. Through this research, scientists have defined the mystical-type experiences, long associated with psychedelic substances, as profound and sacred experiences accompanied by a sense of unity and oneness with the world. Universally eliciting unspeakable love, and connection, along with feelings of transcendence of time and space among those who ingest them, psychedelics change people's minds. Scientists are finding a connection between the degree to which patients experience the healing benefits of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety and the degree to which they have a mystical-type experience. As a result of this convergence, scientists are advancing their understanding of the ways in which psychedelics heal, finding that the spiritual experience is deeply connected to the process of change elicited by classic psychedelics. 



Start Your Research Here

For articles that link to library databases, be sure to link the title of the article with the Record URL or Permalink that includes in the link. 


Encyclopedia Britannica. (n.d.). (2022) Timothy Leary. Britannica Academic,

              This encyclopedia entry discusses Timothy Leary and his contribution to and relationship with psychedelics and psychedelic research beginning in the 1960’s. Though Tim Leary is a controversial figure in many aspects I believe it is a good idea to have knowledge of his contribution to the psychedelic "movement" and the ways in which he viewed the psychedelic mystical experience especially as it relates to the public and the public view. It offers a brief history of his life and his relationship with the counterculture movement in the 1960’s and beyond. Timothy Leary played a pivotal role in the early research which this entry touches on. It offers additional reading topics that contribute to a larger understanding of the topic. 

Encyclopedia Britannica. (2019) MysticismBritannica Academic,
This encyclopedia entry gives an overview of different cultural, scholarly, and philosophical perspectives of mysticism. Varying concepts of mysticism are discussed including goals, states, and techniques for inducing mystical states, as well as cultural perspectives and the connection between mysticism and spirituality.    

Encyclopedia Britannica. (2018) Hallucinogen. Britannica Acedemic,

            This encyclopedia entry gives an overview of what is meant by the term hallucinogenic substances. It is helpful because it

            offers a concise overview of substances related to the topic in general and provides a good array of search words to

            investigate further.   

Encyclopedia Britannica. (2021) William James. Britannica Academic,
William James is a philosopher and psychologist who worked a Harvard College in the late 1800s. His contribution to the language defining and philosophical ideas pertaining to the religious and spiritual experience was influential for early psychedelic researchers and even for contemporary researchers. This is a good entry for a general background on William James and a starting point for understanding the discussion about psychedelics and the mystical experience. 


Best Databases/Search Engines

Keywords for searching the topic

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy
Default mode network
DMY (or N,N-Dimethyltryptamine)
5-HT2A receptor
Harvard Psilocybin Project
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)
MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies)
MDMA (3.4-methylenedioxmethamphetamine)
Mystical Experience Questionnaire
Set and setting

People to Search

Ram Dass
Alfred Matthew Hubbard
Aldous Huxley
Albert Hofmann 
Ralph Metzner
Sasha Shulgin
Amanda Feilding
Maria Sabina
Michael Pollan 
Rowland Griffiths
Rick Doblin
Robin Carhart-Harris
Terrance McKenna
Rick Strassman
William James
Timothy Leary

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