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Altered States of Consciousness

8th Social Research Conference February 22-24, 200​1

Drugs, meditation, hypnosis, ecstasy, dreaming, hallucination, mass hysteria: There are countless ways of achieving altered states of consciousness. What distinguishes those that are valued from those that are deemed dangerous and consequently feared? How have rules and attitudes toward mind-altering activities changed through history and across cultures? This conference attempted to place the current debate about mind-altering substances and the "war on drugs" in their proper historical and cultural frameworks. We examined religious, psychiatric, recreational, and inspirational practices of altering consciousness, looking back at the historical roots of our current views and policies and forward to more rational, less harmful, solutions to what some perceive as a national epidemic.

This conference is funded by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Russell Sage Foundation

To order the related issue of Social Research: An International Quarterly,



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