Psychedelic Medicine


The Challenging Psychedelic Experiences Project with Jules Evans


In this episode of the Psychedelic Medicine Podcast, Jules Evans joins to discuss his work with the Challenging Psychedelic Experiences Project. Jules is a research fellow at the Centre for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary University of London and author of four books including The Art of Losing Control and Breaking Open: Finding a Way Through Spiritual Emergency. He is also the Director of the Challenging Psychedelic Experiences Project and the editor of the substack Ecstatic Integration.

In this conversation, Jules shares how he first became interested in psychedelics and the kinds of ecstatic experiences they can produce, as well as what prompted him to turn his attention to the challenging experiences that can result from consuming these substances. He discusses the initial research from the Challenging Psychedelic Experiences Project, sharing the typical ways challenging experiences manifest, as well as the coping strategies people employ to work through these experiences. In closing, Jules reiterates the newness of the psychedelic field, encouraging more research into difficult forms of ecstatic experience and ways to effectively navigate the challenges these pose.

In This Episode

• What got Jules interested in the topic of difficult psychedelic experiences
• Common impacts of challenging psychedelic experiences
• Depersonalization vs derealization
• What helped people integrate challenging psychedelic experiences
• How people used “cognitive self care” to process challenging experiences
• The history and meaning of the term “spiritual emergency”
• Psychedelic “flashbacks” and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD)


“30% of our respondents reported anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety—and then all these sub-themes related to fear like fear of losing your mind, fear of dying, fear of the experience repeating, fear of being alone.” [17:04]

“Feeling you don’t have anyone to talk to about [a psychedelic experience] will make extended difficulties more likely. Not knowing the dosage that you take seems like it makes extended difficulties more likely.” [24:44]

“The overwhelming majority [of people who had challenging psychedelic experiences], like more than 85%… still believe in the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.” [32:41]

“Our culture has a lot of ecstatic illiteracy. We’ve lost the maps and guides and safe places to having ecstatic experiences, so we’re ecstatically naive. And we need to develop ecstatic literacy to learn to get better at having these kinds of experiences.” [51:11]


* The Psychedelic Medicine Podcast has allowed the Psychedelic Medicine Association to post episodes as an educational resource, and in return the PMA is hosting the podcast show notes.