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Psychedelic Horizons
by Tom Roberts
Imprint Academic 
Book Reviews
Reviewed by Bruce Sewick, 12/12/2006

In Psychedelic Horizons, Dr. Tom Roberts sums up his fascination with psychoactives in the following words: “As an educational psychologist, I am grateful to psychedelics for teaching me that our minds function in many mindbody states.” The exploration of the concept of different mindbody states is one of the more intriguing theories in Dr. Roberts’ book. Roberts feels that our attachment to our ordinary, normal, “awake” state is limiting. He likens it to a person who has bought a powerful computer, but will only use it to play chess, thus underutilizing an amazing information-processing resource.

What is needed, Roberts says, is the recognition that “our minds do useful work in mindbody states in addition to our ordinary awake state.” This leads to the idea of the multistate mind. Dr. Roberts argues that psychedelics, along with other psychotechnologies like yoga, meditation, martial arts, and dream work, have helped to expand our assumptions about the extent of our minds. He proposes a “Multistate Studies Center” to “explore how current abilities vary across mindbody states, to reask educational questions from a multistate perspective, to explore leads from other cultures on our own, and develop the possibilities of designing new mindbody states and housing them”.

Perhaps the most revolutionary theory in Psychedelic Horizons is related to the placebo effect. Dr. Roberts posits that the placebo effect is a mindbody skill our minds and bodies intrinsically possess. He calls this “placebo ability”. He feels that psychedelically-enhanced mystical experiences, with their potential to produce an overwhelming sense of wellbeing, might offer clues to spontaneous, unaccountable healing (i.e. the placebo effect). He questions and hypothesizes: “do entheogen-induced mystical experiences boost the immune system?” Dr. Roberts calls this the EMXIS hypotheses, short for Entheogen-induced Mystical Experiences Influence the Immune System. This theory differentiates between psychedelic experience and proper entheogenic experience, where a sense of sacredness accompanies the emotional peaks.

Through psychedelics, Dr. Roberts acknowledges having discovered “that religion is about something, and that something is unitive consciousness”. He feels that psychedelics democratize primary religious experience; entheogen, by definition, means the direct experience of the divine with. These mystical experiences, substance-induced or otherwise, often cause major paradigm shifts in individuals—changes that can then make it easier to experience mystical states more often and to a stronger degree. The proper use of entheogens could potentially increase our spiritual intelligence, which in turn could have far-reaching effects in society and planetary survival.

I found Dr. Roberts’ book to be very thought-provoking, informative and entertaining. His chapter on “Snow-White-Grof’s Landmarks in Disney’s Land”, for example, is a whimsical, psychedelic interpretation of Snow White that will change the way you read this fairy tale. The last part of the book, “Enlarging Education,” expands what it means to be a well-educated person into a person who “can select from a large number of mindbody states, enter them, and use their resident abilities”. The final chapters speculate about the future of multistate education and where it may take us. Overall, Psychedelic Horizons makes for fascinating reading.

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