Queen of Consciousness

Interview for this month’s PT magazine, my work, OBEs, drugs and anorexia.

Posted Feb 20, 2015

So it’s official – I’m the “Queen of Consciousness”! At least that was the delightful title given to me in this month’s “Eccentric’s Corner” in Psychology Today Magazine.

“Editor at Large” Hara Estroff Marano rang me at home, here in England, and we had a long and enjoyable talk about my life, my work and the strange experiences I’ve had, starting with an out-of-body experience in 1970.

I explained how this led me to study other strange experiences, such as sleep paralysis, near-death experiences, and hallucinations, and how this research converted me from a believer in the supernatural to a sceptical scientist trying to understand the mind and consciousness.

We talked about drugs, my experience with ketamine, a drug that may have much therapeutic potential, and hallucinogens, and how drug experiences relate to my thirty years of meditation. We talked about self, my silly-coloured hair and my latest ideas about the evolution of technology.

Hara managed brilliantly to condense our long, long chat into a few pages of lively Q and As but there was one section I wasn’t happy with – the question about Emily, my daughter’s, anorexia. The written answer failed to capture what I meant about how hard it is to help. Emily has her own blog at PT and invited me to write a guest post there to explain.

As for the “Queen of Consciousness” – flattered as I am by the title, consciousness remains a mystery and I haven’t solved it. The problem of consciousness is arguably the greatest mystery facing science because we just don’t seem able to escape from the apparent duality of body and mind. So after all these adventures, this is what still grips me most of all.