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Pahnke W. 
“Drugs and Mysticism: An Analysis of the Relationship between Psychedelic Drugs and the Mystical Consciousness”. 
Thesis Harvard University. 1963.
No Abstract Available. Following are excerpts and comments.

Erowid Summary: 20 student volunteers from a local Christian seminary, given either 30mg of psilocybin or 200mg of nicotinic acid as an active placebo. Experiment was conducted in the basement of Marsh Chapel at Boston University during Good Friday services. 30-40 of participants reported mystical experiences and one participant who received Psilocybin had a psychotic-like break and was injected with thorazine after he escaped the chapel.


With increasing frequency, books and articles have been appearing which make the claim that certain chemical substances (most notably mescaline, lysergic acid diethylamide, and psilocybin) are capable of inducing under appropriate conditions mystical or religious experience. Such claims have met with skepticism from many religious people, and rightly so. The evidence has been, in most cases, a series of very subjective personal accounts which, while interesting, does not systematically attack the problem or prove the point. (page 1)

This investigation was undertaken, therefore, to study in an empirical way the similarities and differences between experiences described by mystics and those induced by these drugs. ...

(1) A phenomenological typology of the mystical state of consciousness was carefully defined after a study of the writings of the mystics themselves and of scholars who have tried to characterize mystical experience.

(2) Some drug experiences were empirically studied not by collecting such experiences wherever an interesting or striking one might have been found and analyzed after the fact, but by conducting a double-blind, controlled experiment with subjects whose religious background and experience as well as personality were evaluated before their drug experience. ...

(3) The experimenter himself conducted the experiment, collected the data, and wrote up the results without ever having had an experience with any of these drugs. (pages 2-3)

CONCLUSIONS: In terms of our typology of mysticism, a complete mystical experience as a whole should have demonstrated the phenomena of all the categories in a complete way. The evidence from the content analysis (also supported by impressions from the interviews) showed that such perfect completeness of all categories was not experienced by the experimental subjects in contrast to the controls. The phenomena of internal unity, however, were experienced to a rather complete degree. Because unity is the heart of the mystical experience we might expect that phenomena of the other categories also should have been experienced to a complete degree as by products. In our data such a prediction was unquestionably correct for transcendence of time and space, transiency, paradoxicality, and persisting positive changes toward self and life. The evidence indicated a lesser degree of completeness in objectivity and reality, joy, and alleged ineffability; and a relatively greater lack in sense of sacredness, love, and persisting positive changes toward others and toward the experience. The experience of each of these last six subcategories could be termed incomplete to a more or less degree, but definitely present to some extent when compared to the controls. The experience as a whole, therefore, must be termed incomplete, in the strictest sense. It was remarkable, however, that so many phenomena of the mystical typology were experienced by our group of ten experimental subjects, none of whom were especially chosen other than by their own volunteering or had previous experience with psilocybin. While it is true that they were already committed to an interest in religion by the fact that they were all in a graduate school of theology, their middle-class, protestant backgrounds were rather non-mystical. Pre-drug testing indicated that there was no special tendency toward mysticism in personal experience or inclination except in the case of one or two.

The experience of the experimentals was certainly more like mystical experiences than that of the controls who had the same expectation and suggestion from the preparation and setting. The most striking difference between the experimentals and controls was the ingestion of 30 mg. of psilocybin, which it can be concluded was the facilitating agent responsible for the difference in phenomena experienced. (pages 234-236)
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