Robin Carhart-Harris

Robin Carhart-Harris

Robin Carhart-Harris is the Ralph Metzner Distinguished Professor in Neurology and Psychiatry and Director of Neuroscape’s Psychedelics Division at the University of California, San Francisco. He moved to Imperial College London in 2008 after obtaining a PhD in Psychopharmacology from the University of Bristol. Robin has designed human brain imaging studies with LSD, psilocybin, MDMA and DMT, and several clinical trials of psilocybin therapy for severe mental illnesses. Robin founded the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London in April 2019, was ranked among the top 31 medical scientists in 2020, and in 2021, was named in TIME magazine’s ‘100 Next’ – a list of 100 rising stars shaping the future. His research is creating system-level change in mental health care.

Books Mentioned on The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast #314 - Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris

Exploring the Depths of Consciousness and Psychopathology: Insights from Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris and Jordan Peterson

In a fascinating episode of the Jordan B. Peterson Podcast, Dr. Peterson engaged with Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, a distinguished figure in neurology, psychiatry, and psychedelic research. Their conversation delved into the realms of consciousness, psychopathology, and the potential therapeutic effects of psychedelics. This article aims to distill the key insights from their dialogue, exploring how our understanding of the mind, mental health, and treatment methods are being reshaped.

The Human Mind: A Landscape of Consciousness and Order

The podcast began with a thought-provoking discussion about the human mind and its intricate relationship with consciousness and order. Dr. Peterson opened with a reflection on how we perceive and categorize the world, shaping our reality through the lenses of our experiences and beliefs. This set the stage for a deeper exploration of the unconscious mind and its role in forming our perception of the world.

Psychedelics and Cognitive Neuroscience: A New Therapeutic Frontier

Dr. Carhart-Harris, with his extensive background in psychopharmacology and psychoanalysis, brought a unique perspective on the use of psychedelics in psychotherapy. He discussed his groundbreaking work at the University of California, San Francisco, and Imperial College London, focusing on how substances like psilocybin and LSD can offer new insights into brain function and mental disorders.

Redefining Psychopathology: From Excess to Novelty

A significant part of their conversation centered around the concept of psychopathology. Dr. Carhart-Harris provided a fresh perspective on this, explaining how excessive learning and categorization can lead to rigid thought patterns, contributing to various mental health issues. The discussion then shifted to how psychedelics could potentially “re-novelize” experiences, offering a temporary escape from over-learned, maladaptive patterns.

Psychedelics and Their Impact on the Brain

Delving into the neuroscientific aspects, Dr. Carhart-Harris explained the mechanisms through which psychedelics affect the brain. He highlighted their interaction with serotonin receptors and how this leads to increased neuronal excitability, potentially fostering more flexible and creative thought processes.

The Ethical and Psychological Implications of Psychedelic Therapy

The podcast also touched on the ethical and psychological considerations surrounding psychedelic therapy. Dr. Peterson and Dr. Carhart-Harris discussed the potential risks and benefits, emphasizing the importance of understanding individual differences in responses to such treatments.

Navigating the Complex Interplay of Psychedelics, Consciousness, and Mental Health

The second part of the Jordan B. Peterson Podcast with Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris delves deeper into the intersection of psychedelics, consciousness, and mental health. This segment offers valuable insights into the potential of psychedelics in reshaping our understanding of the human mind and its ailments.

Psychedelics and the Expansion of Consciousness

The conversation explored how psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin interact with the brain’s serotonin receptors, leading to increased neuronal excitability. This heightened state potentially allows for greater cognitive flexibility and creativity. Dr. Carhart-Harris elaborated on his hypothesis that psychedelics can induce a state of ‘brain entropy’, correlating with a richer conscious experience.

Balancing Order and Chaos in the Mind

A significant focus of their dialogue was on the concept of ‘criticality’ – the delicate balance between chaos and order in the brain. Dr. Peterson and Dr. Carhart-Harris discussed how this balance is pivotal for optimal brain function and how psychedelics might tip this balance towards increased complexity and entropy, potentially benefiting psychological health.

The Risks and Rewards of Psychedelic Experiences

The podcast also addressed the risks associated with psychedelic experiences, such as the potential for delusional thinking or creating new, possibly counterproductive, belief systems. This discussion underlined the importance of cautious and controlled use of these substances, especially in therapeutic settings.

Psychedelic Research: Current and Future Directions

Dr. Carhart-Harris shared his ongoing research endeavors, including intensive brain imaging studies of psilocybin experiences. He aims to understand better the neural underpinnings of the psychedelic experience and how it might be harnessed for therapeutic benefits.

Unraveling the Mysteries of Mind and Matter

In the final segment of the Jordan B. Peterson Podcast episode featuring Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, the discussion ventured into the realms of psychedelic research, the nature of consciousness, and the potential for these substances to treat mental health disorders. This article aims to encapsulate the profound insights from this concluding part of their conversation.

The Role of Psychedelics in Exploring Consciousness

Dr. Carhart-Harris continued to delve into the effects of psychedelics on the human brain, emphasizing their role in expanding consciousness. He discussed his pioneering research involving brain imaging studies of individuals under the influence of psilocybin, aiming to deepen our understanding of how these substances alter brain activity and perception.

Psychedelics, Mental Health, and the Future of Therapy

The dialogue touched upon the therapeutic potential of psychedelics in treating mental health disorders. Both speakers explored the idea of psychedelics not only as a means to alleviate symptoms but also as tools to fundamentally reshape and heal the mind. The conversation highlighted the importance of controlled and responsible use of these substances in therapeutic settings.

The Interplay Between Psychedelics, Creativity, and Mental Health

An interesting aspect of their discussion revolved around the relationship between psychedelics, creativity, and mental health. Dr. Carhart-Harris and Dr. Peterson pondered whether psychedelics could enhance creativity and, by extension, contribute positively to mental health. They explored the idea that these substances might help break down rigid thought patterns, potentially offering new perspectives and solutions.


The final part of the podcast with Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris provided a thought-provoking conclusion to a series of discussions that spanned the gamut of consciousness, psychopathology, and the potential of psychedelics in therapy. It underscored the need for continued research and cautious optimism in the burgeoning field of psychedelic therapy.