Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Jake Lombard 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

My name is Jake Lombard. I am 23 years old, from Goatstown in Dublin, Ireland. I am passionate about many things pertaining to the fields of psychology, philosophy and spirituality. These passions arose in around 2019 when I read a book called 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle. This book caused a fundamental shift in my worldview and completely changed the way I understand the nature of Self, Reality, and Consciousness. This shift in worldview generated within me a new desire to explore the matters of Self and Consciousness, and is ultimately what led me to pursue a degree in psychology.

Thesis Title

A Qualitative Investigation into the Links Between the Mythic Hero’s Journey and the Psychedelic Therapy Experience.

Project Overview

My project is constituted by an overview and explanation of the mythic Hero’s Journey, a qualitative analysis of the Psychedelic Therapy Experience, and a subsequent comparison between the two phenomena. As a theoretical framework had already been established for the Hero’s Journey, all that was necessary for this aspect was to present that framework. Such a qualitative framework of the Psychedelic Therapy experience had not yet been established, so it was necessary to produce one by means of the qualitative analysis technique of thematic analysis. Once this had been achieved, it was then possible to directly address the research question regarding any qualitative links between the two phenomena. The identification of any such links – or lack thereof – represents the essential goal of this project.

Project Objectives

As stated, the primary objective of this project was to explore and identify potential links between the mythic Hero’s Journey and the Psychedelic Therapy Experience. A broader goal which preceded this objective, however, was to conduct a study which would serve as a direct reflection of my passions and interests. This is what led me to this particular project and research question. Anyway, prior to undertaking the project, let alone completing or even starting the thematic analysis, I had already identified a number of qualitative similarities between the two pertinent matters. As the two phenomena under investigation represent two of my greatest personal interests, my previous personal investigations had led me to recognise a number of rather salient similarities between them. Thus, the goal of this project was to explore my hypothesis about these similarities, and possibly to establish official empirical links between the two matters – if they stood the test – by conducting a rigorous and academic investigation into them.

Project Findings

The analysis of the Psychedelic Therapy Experience produced even more links and similarities to the Hero’s Journey than anticipated. Virtually all eight of the final themes can be directly applied to the Hero’s Journey. The final themes were as follows: Confrontation of the Unknown; Challenging Experiences; Death; Realisation and Revelation; Peak Experiences (Spiritual, Personal and Transpersonal); Positive Transformation/Rebirth; Exploratory Journey of Self-Discover; and the Presence of a Guide/Mentor. The sheer extent to which the two phenomena relate to one-another suggests one thing to me very clearly: the Psychedelic Therapy Experience is but one real-life example of the Hero’s Journey in action. By confronting the unknown, with the assistance of a guide or mentor, and facing trials and challenges and overcoming them, the hero undergoes a series of revelations and (metaphorically) "slays the dragon", which result in his/her psycho-spiritual death and rebirth – the ultimate transformation of the hero. This simple summary can be applied to both the Hero’s Journey as well as the Psychedelic Therapy Experience. One is an ancient and ubiquitous mythic narrative which teaches us how our bravery to confront the unknown can transform us, and one is a modern therapeutic practice of transpersonal psychology, yet both represent the same transformative story - the human process of psycho-spiritual transformation.