2021 Articles
Volume 3 Issue 1


Towards Consilience Between Research Paradigms and Spiritual Practice

Thomas D. Meacham, M.D.

Volume 3 Issue 1


Spirituality is widely recognized as a function of health, of wholeness, and in some fashion central to psychological healing. In recent decades western medicine has found renewed interest in the spiritual aspects of healing with the development of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, a form of treatment commonly observed to induce spiritual and mystical experiences. Questions about the role of the mystical experience in psychological healing have led to the desire to research the subject. However, this state is well known to be difficult to study objectively due to its ineffable quality, problems with defining terms, and apparent theoretical and philosophical differences from research paradigms. This paper attempts to find the most fundamental common theoretical ground possible in order to attain consilience between research as it is performed and the spiritual experience towards the goal of improved theory and better treatment designs and clinical outcomes. This is done by conceptualizing the spiritual experience as a homeostatic mechanism to optimize the various codes of life. This places the spiritual experience in the same framework as other aspects of the social and biological sciences. As a special case, the mystical experience is conceptualized as associated with directly accessing codes created through early childhood social learning. Boundary cases and counterintuitive implications of this paradigm are discussed.

Keywords: Research, spirituality, mystical state, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy