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SPEAKERS

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WILLIAM A. RICHARDS STM PhD
Psychologist

William A. Richards is a psychologist in the Psychiatry Department of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he and his colleagues have been conducting research with psilocybin for the past 17 years, and also a clinician in private practice in Baltimore. His graduate degrees include M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, S.T.M. from Andover-Newton Theological School and Ph.D. from Catholic University, as well as studies with Abraham Maslow at Brandeis University and with Hanscarl Leuner at Georg-August University in Göttingen, Germany, where his involvement with psilocybin research originated in 1963. From 1967 to 1977, he conducted psychotherapy research with LSD, DPT, MDA and psilocybin at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, including protocols designed to investigate the promise of entheogens in the treatment of alcoholism, severe neuroses, narcotic addiction and the psychological distress associated with terminal cancer, and also their use in the training of religious and mental-health professionals. From 1977-1981, he was a member of the psychology faculty of Antioch University in Maryland. His publications began in 1966 with “Implications of LSD and Experimental Mysticism” coauthored with Walter Pahnke. His book, “Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences” recently has been released by Columbia University Press.

ABSTRACT: SACRED KNOWLEDGE: JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE MORTAL IS NO REASON TO BE DEPRESSED


This presentation will focus on the positive correlation between insightful personal, visionary and mystical forms of consciousness facilitated by psilocybin and significant and enduring reductions in depression and anxiety, coupled with reported increases in quality of life. The probable application of this intervention in palliative and hospice care settings in the near future will be discussed, including the need for training persons to implement it safely and effectively. Attention will be paid to the importance of set and setting, the definition of visionary and mystical states, and reflections on why the memory of such psychedelic experiences may be so therapeutically effective.