Sacred Knowledge: Transcendental Experiences in Psychotherapy and Spiritual Development
On the basis of research with psilocybin at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine during the past 16 years, as well as a decade of earlier studies at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, this presentation will focus on the promise of the respectful and skillful use of psychedelic substances in medicine, education and religion. The presentation will include recent studies on the contribution of transcendental experiences facilitated by psilocybin to the well-being of persons coping with symptoms of psychological and physical distress associated with potentially terminal conditions as well as to the lives of healthy normal volunteers.
William A. Richards is a psychologist in the Psychiatry Department of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he and his colleagues have pursued psychedelic research during the past 16 years. Recent studies with psilocybin have focused on its promise with normal volunteers in facilitating personal and spiritual development, with cancer patients and in the continuing education of professional religious leaders.
His graduate degrees include M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, S.T.M. from Andover-Newton Theological School and Ph.D. from Catholic University, including studies with Abraham Maslow at Brandeis University and with Hanscarl Leuner at Georg-August University in Göttingen, Germany, where his involvement with psychedelic research originated in 1963.
From 1967 to 1977, he pursued psychotherapy research with LSD, DPT, MDA and psilocybin at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, including protocols designed to investigate the promise of psychedelics in the treatment of alcoholism, severe neuroses, narcotic addiction and the psychological distress associated with terminal cancer, and also their use in the training of religious and mental-health professionals.
His publications began in 1966 with “Implications of LSD and Experimental Mysticism,” coauthored with Walter Pahnke. His new book, Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences has recently been published by Columbia University Press.
You can find our interview with Dr. Richards here.