Michael Lifshitz, PhD

Michael Lifshitz is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at McGill University and the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. He did his PhD in Neuroscience at McGill and then a postdoctoral fellowship in Anthropology at Stanford. His work combines phenomenology, neuroscience and ethnography to shed light on the plasticity of consciousness. He studies practices that aim to transform subjective experience—from meditation and hypnosis to placebos, prayer, and psychedelics. He is particularly interested in how these practices can modulate feelings of agency, so that thoughts, actions and sensations can come to feel like they are emerging from a source beyond the self. 

michael.lifshitz2 [at] mcgill.ca (Email)

Selected Publications

Brahinsky, J.B, Lifshitz, M., & Luhrmann, T. M. (2022). Steps towards a neurophenomenology of speaking in tongues. In The Oxford Handbook of Psychedelic, Spiritual, Religious, and Mystical Experiences, M. van Elk & D. Yaden (Eds.), Oxford University Press. 

Luhrmann, T. M. Weisman, K., Aulino, F., Brahinsky, J. D., Dulin, J. C., Dzokoto, V. A., Legare, C. H., Lifshitz, M., Ng, E., Ross-Zehnder, N., & Smith, R. E. (2021). Sensing the presence of gods and spirits across cultures and faiths. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(5), e2016649118.

Lifshitz, M., Brahinsky, J., & Luhrmann, T. M. (2020). The understudied side of contemplation: Words, images and intentions in a syncretic spiritual practice. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis , 68(2), 183-199. 

Lifshitz, M., van Elk, M., & Luhrmann, T. M. (2019). Absorption and spiritual experience: A review of evidence and potential mechanisms. Consciousness and Cognition, 73, 102760.

Lifshitz, M., Sacchet, M., Huntenburg, J. M., Thiery, T., Fan, Y., Gärtner, M., Grimm, S., ... Margulies, D. S., & Barnhofer, T. (2019). Mindfulness-based therapy regulates brain connectivity in major depression. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 88(6), 375-377. 

Lifshitz. M., Sheiner, E. O., & Kirmayer, L. J. (2018). Cultural neurophenomenology of psychedelic thought: Guiding the unconstrained mind through ritual context. In The Oxford Handbook of Spontaneous Thought. K. Fox & K. Christoff (Eds.), Oxford University Press.

A. Raz & M. Lifshitz (Eds). Hypnosis and meditation: Towards an integrative science of conscious planes. Oxford University Press, 2016.

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