Webinar October 25th 2023 | David Dupuis – Hallucinogens as tools for belief transmission. Social underpinnings and ethical stakes of psychedelic insights

The use of psychedelics in the collective rituals of numerous indigenous groups suggests that these substances are powerful catalysts of social affiliation, enculturation and belief transmission. This feature has recently been highlighted as part of the renewed interest in psychedelics in Euro-American societies, and seen as a previously underestimated vector of their therapeutic properties. However, it also raises complex ethical questions in the context of the globalization of these substances. In the past decades, this property has been perceived as problematic by anticult movements and public authorities of some European countries, claiming that these substances could be used for “mental manipulation.”

On Wednesday October 25th, 6PM (UTC+3), social anthropologist David Dupuis, a Research Fellow at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research, will tackle this challenging topic in a webinar organized by the Finnish Association for Psychedelic Research. 

Despite the fact that the notion of psychedelic as tools for mental manipulation has been criticized by the scientific community, alternative perspectives on how psychedelic experience supports enculturation and social affiliation have been yet little explored. Beyond the political issues that underlie it, the re-emergence of the concept of “psychedelic brainwashing” can then be read as the consequence of the fact that the dynamic through which psychedelic experience supports persuasion is still poorly understood. Beyond the unscientific and politically controversial notion of brainwashing, how to think about the role of psychedelics in the dynamics of transmission of belief and its stakes? 

Drawing on ethnographic data collected in a shamanic center in the Peruvian Amazon, dr. Dupuis addresses this question through an ethnographic case-study. Proposing the state of hypersuggestibility induced by psychedelics as the main factor making the substances powerful tools for belief transmission, he will explore the ethical stakes of these observations on the current context of medicalization of psychedelics.

The event contains a Q&A section. The total length is 2 hours. Tickets are available in our web store. For members of the association who’ve paid their membership fee for 2023, the event is free of charge. If you want to pay your membership fee for this year or become a member, you’ll find our membership products on the main page of our web store. An email with a link for free registration to the event has been sent to members of the association. If you’re not sure if you’ve paid for your membership this year, feel free to ask us.

David Dupuis, Ph.D. (INSERM Research Fellow, IRIS/EHESS), is a Research Fellow at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) conducting research at the intersection of Psychedelic Studies, Anthropology of Mental Health & Cultural Psychiatry. His research interests lie mainly within the contemporary reconfigurations of the social status of psychedelic substances and hallucinatory experiences. He explores the cultural, political, clinical and ethical implications of these dynamics within Euro-American societies. His work is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted since 2008 in Latin America (Peruvian Amazon, Mexico) and Europe (United Kingdom, France).

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