Unveiling Paranoia in Digital Psychedelic Psychiatry
Dr Tehseen NooraniZoom
The very theme of this Congress indexes a broader growth in the study of hidden experiences, from William James’ ‘fringe’ of awareness to Bataille and Foucault’s ‘limit experiences’ and what Laing, Lessing and Ballard described as journeys into ‘inner space’. I suggest that the revival of psychedelic-assisted therapeutics is one of the drivers of the various turns and re-turns to hidden experience, particularly through a flood of cognitivist and neurological research programmes that use psychedelic substances to produce and study altered and non-normative states of consciousness. I describe this network of psychedelic research reflexively, as research that is a) produced and received enthusiastically, and b) generated within political economies that are increasingly utilizing digital technologies to instrumentalize the value of altered states of consciousness. Under such conditions what new knowledge forms can we expect to see? And what insights can the psychedelic revival offer for the broader landscape of digital surveillance, analysis and making value out of hidden experience? After all, sustained psychedelic encounters in the service of therapy and/or healing also engage with invisible presences, hidden agencies and the sense of being watched.