Transformations of Consciousness
A Consciousness Cafe Special Event
The Royal Seven Stars, The Plains, Totnes
Wednesday 5th September, 2018

Arrival time: 7:00 for 7:30 to 10:00 

Professor Etzel Cardeña on ‘Altered Consciousness and Enhanced Human Abilities’
This presentation will review research on the relation between altered states of consciousness, the procedures and practices to induce them, and enhanced performance, including performance in psi (parapsychological) experiments. Multiple studies on meditation, hypnosis, sensory homogenization, psychoactive drug ingestion, and spontaneous alterations of consciousness show a relation to enhanced physiological and psychological functioning, such as increased ability to withstand cold temperature and painful stimuli, heightened perceptual sensitivity and attention control, and enhanced positive affect and personality change. Parapsychological research also indicates that when individuals are exposed to techniques to alter their state of consciousness they produce stronger evidence of psi phenomena, such as precognition and micro-psychokinesis than when they are in their ordinary waking consciousness.

Etzel Cardeña (Lund University, Sweden) holds the Thorsen Chair in Psychology and directs the Center for Research on Consciousness and Anomalous Psychology (CERCAP). His areas of research include alterations of consciousness and anomalous experiences, dissociative processes, the neurophenomenology of hypnosis and meditation, and the stream of consciousness during waking and altered states. He has more than 300 publications and various awards for his empirical, theoretical, and pedagogical contributions.

Dr Milan Scheidegger on ‘Mind in Nature: Towards a Molecular Epistemology of Consciousness’
The interfaces between mind, brain, consciousness and nature, remain exciting unresolved frontiers in science and philosophy: What is the nature of the human mind and how does conscious experience and meaning emerge in living systems? In the context of the renaissance of psychedelic research we are currently facing a paradigm shift in the understanding of consciousness. As Freud’s dream theory deepened the psychoanalytic understanding of the unconscious, psychoactive compounds could nowadays serve as promising epistemological tools for the scientific exploration of consciousness. Psychoactive plants have been used in ritualistic contexts throughout human history for shamanic, therapeutic and psychospiritual purposes. Beyond shaping social and cultural evolution, psychedelic states of consciousness also raise profound philosophical and existential questions about the nature of subjective experience and the creation of meaning in the universe. This transdisciplinary talk provides an integral approach of understanding the nature of human existence from its molecular basis up to the level of phenomenal consciousness. Interfaces between different epistemological perspectives such as pharmacology, neuroscience, biosemiotics, philosophy of mind, and deep ecology will be explored.
Milan Scheidegger (University Hospital of Psychiatry, Zurich) has an academic background in medicine, neuroscience, philosophy, and psychiatry. His MD-PhD degree was in functional and molecular neuroimaging at the Institute for Biomedical Engineering (University and ETH Zurich). He is currently researching the neurobiology and pharmacology of altered states of consciousness. He investigates the potential of psychedelics such as ketamine, psilocybin, ayahuasca and DMT to facilitate therapeutic transformation. On his ethnobotanical expeditions to Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, he has explored the traditional use of psychoactive plants in indigenous rituals. 

Tickets: £8
Bookings: online at


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