OPEN Foundation

L. Horváth

The hyperassociative mind: The psychedelic experience and Merleau-Ponty’s “wild being”



In contemporary phenomenology, Dieter Lohmar has suggested that the new task of phenomenological research is to analyze the “alternative representational systems” of fantasy. In line with this program, we propose that psychedelic experience could also be suitable subject to this project subsumed under the wider category of fantasy activity. The aim of this paper is to show that psychedelic experiences offer a favorable situation to study the imagination.


The paper applies the conceptual framework of the late Merleau-Ponty, developed in The Visible and the Invisible, using his mescaline analyses which have been elaborated in The Phenomenology of Perception.


We demonstrate that psychedelic visions and emotional states can be discussed within the Merleau-Pontian framework of “wild world.” From the viewpoint of phenomenology, we suggest that psychedelic visions represent an ongoing sense-making and Gestalt-formation process in which the role of the elaborative activity of the subject is crucial. These – often unsettling – visions show the basic volatility and ambiguity of perception and fantasy, which also sheds light to the hidden schemes of perception, thinking, and emotion of normal consciousness.


Freud claimed that dreams are “the royal road” to the unconscious. In an analogous manner, while dreams were the primary psychoscope to the unconscious of psychoanalysis, in contemporary phenomenology psychedelic experiences may show a possible way to an another kind of unconscious, the phenomenological unconscious. This unconscious comprises the hidden schemes and basic affective emotional attitudes of the knowing subject.

Szummer, C., Horváth, L., SzabÓ, A., Frecska, E., & OrzÓi, K. (2017). The hyperassociative mind: The psychedelic experience and Merleau-Ponty’s “wild being”. Journal of Psychedelic Studies, (0), 1-10. 10.1556/2054.01.2017.006
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Weak phantasy and visionary phantasy: the phenomenological significance of altered states of consciousness


In this paper we discuss the definitional problems of altered states of consciousness and their potential relevance in phenomenological investigation. We suggest that visionary states or visionary phantasy working induced by psychedelics (VSs), as extraordinary types of altered states, are appropriate subjects for phenomenological analysis. Naturally, visionary states are not quite ordinary workings of the human mind, however certain cognitive psychological and evolutionary epistemological investigations show that they can give new insights into the nature of consciousness. Furthermore, we suggest that contemporary inquiries concerning altered states in consciousness studies give an opportunity to complete the contemporary phenomenological investigations of phantasy with the notion of visionary phantasy. Here we propose that the similarities and differences between Dieter Lohmar’s weak phantasy (which has a crucial role in empathy and typifying perception) and Benny Shanon’s concept of vision are precisely discernible, and, consequently, it may be possible that weak phantasy and visionary phantasy are situated on the two outermost poles of the colorful spectrum of phantasy activity.

Horváth, L., Szummer, C., & Szabo, A. (2017). Weak phantasy and visionary phantasy: the phenomenological significance of altered states of consciousness. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 1-13. 10.1007/s11097-016-9497-4

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