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The Paradox of Set and Setting in the American Psychedelic Experience [ONLINE]

October 7 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Featuring Ido Hartogsohn

Wednesday, October 7th from 12-1:30pm PST

Discussions of psychedelics and their role in therapy, spirituality and politics are often confounded by a fundamental, recurring paradox. On the one hand, proponents of psychedelics describe the invaluable benefits and transformations facilitated by a much-revered and perennial psychedelic experience. On the other hand, psychedelics are described as non-specific agents, i.e. agents whose effects are variable and crucially dependent on set and setting, or context. So how much of what we think we know about the psychedelic experience reflects the intrinsic effects of these agents, and how much is the product of historical moments and cultural forces that conspired to shape psychedelic effects and our understanding of the psychedelic experience?

Based on Ido Hartogsohn’s groundbreaking new book American Trip: Set, Setting and the Psychedelic Experience in the 20th Century (MIT Press, 2020), this webinar adds new depth to our understanding of the core psychedelic concept of set and setting by bringing it into historical and cultural context. The webinar will explore our evolving understanding of the concept of set and setting, and how shifting norms and ideas of Western culture have shaped and reshaped the psychedelic experience through the decades. While examining the historical and cultural forces that have shaped psychedelic experiences across space, time and culture, we will also explore novel perspectives that provide refreshing insight on the question, just what, after all, is at the core of the psychedelic experience?


Ido Hartogsohn, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at the program for Science, Technology and Society at Bar Ilan University. Hartogsohn’s research engages the historical, sociological and cultural dimensions of the psychedelic experience with an emphasis on the role of context, or set and setting, in shaping psychedelic experiences for individuals and cultures at large. His book American Trip: How Set and Setting Shaped the American Psychedelic Experience explores the role of society and culture in shaping the results of mid-twentieth century American psychedelic research and the reception of psychedelics into American and global culture



October 7
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
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