Major Papers


Psychedelics, Philosophy, Phenomenology, Heidegger, Trauma, Addiction


This paper argues that the mystical experience induced by psilocybin (understood through the tradition of Heideggerian phenomenology) modulates the attuned understanding of oneself, the world, and how the individual relates to the world. This kind of particular experience is not accessible to the individual through ordinary consciousness, therefore psilocybin may give us access to a new kind of understanding. This understanding may offer a solution to the empirical deficiencies surrounding the short-term and long-term effects of psilocybin, such as how a meagre two to three high doses have yielded unprecedented results in the treatment of tobacco addiction, and in the treatment of depression and anxiety in terminally ill patients. The consensus in the literature suggests that it is not solely the molecular and physiological mechanisms responsible for the results. In addition to the physiological mechanisms, a mystical experience associated with it must be present, without which the long-term effects are not catalyzed. Scientific explanations are limited in explaining the relationship between attuned understanding, the individual, and the world, but conversely, phenomenology does, hence why it may be a better method of analysis. The argument made posits that the mystical experience enables one to reconstitute oneself at an ontological level shows that the work of Heidegger should be applied to ameliorate the empirical deficiency as a potential tentative framework for understanding its broader phenomenal mode of action. The primary reason for this is that Heidegger’s work describes an analogous mechanism concerning modes of attunement which may shift our totality of relevance and the context of our understanding and the meaning of the contents of our lives. This paper concludes that Heidegger’s phenomenology can offer a new explanation of how psilocybin works at the phenomenal level.

Primary Advisor

Dr. Jeff Noonan

Program Reader

Dr. Radu Neculau

Degree Name

Master of Arts



Document Type

Major Research Paper

Convocation Year