Mind Meld 144 | Cataloging the Ineffable with Dr. Matthew Johnson
Dr. Matthew Johnson is a psychologist and lead researcher on Johns Hopkins’ psychedelic research unit. Matthew has been involved in a number of studies that revolve around psychedelic medicine, including psilocybin-assisted end-of-life therapy, psilocybin-assisted smoking cessation, and their latest project– an exploration of how psilocybin impacts the spiritual lives of religious leaders.
I’ve always thought it must strange to study the mystical experience. A phenomenon that is, by definition, undefinable.
On one hand, I still think that. I don’t think we’ll ever fully quantify experiences of ineffability, timelessness, oneness, and transcendence.
On the other, it’s very clear that ostensible, measurable effects do bloom out of expanded experiences, and those can be spoken of.
This is what’s happening right now under various pretenses at institutions like Johns Hopkins University and MAPS. They’re essentially administering the undefinable to a variety of people, and what’s emerging of those therapy sessions is truly remarkable. If you’ve been following this stuff, you know — Anxiety about death has been alleviated, crippling PTSD has been relieved, and notoriously pernicious addictions have been broken.
Most recently, Matthew and his team have asked a more daring philosophical question– What happens when you give religious professionals psilocybin? Will it reliably occasion a mystical experience? What impact, if any, will it have on their spirituality? The results are still being tabulated, but, as you’ll hear in this podcast, the sessions have clearly been highly impactful.
So, in a way, I suppose they are quantifying the unquantifiable.
However we language it, my friends, this is supremely intriguing stuff that could be setting a tone for the future of therapy, medicine, spirituality, and philosophy.