12345...


How to Use MDMA (Molly) – How to Use Psychedelics

MDMA is a truly remarkable medicine for working with difficult emotional experiences. The clinical results have far exceeded other interventions for a range of uses (see the research section at the bottom of this page).

MDMA is a synthetic psychedelic, first developed by the pharmaceutical company Merck in 1912. It has been widely studied since then, particularly for psychotherapeutic uses. With the rate of academic research growing rapidly, it is likely that MDMA will become FDA approved for therapeutic use within the next few years, and MAPS.org is focused on moving it through the approval process. MDMA is being widely tested for post-traumatic stress, with results that surpass any other existing treatment method.

MDMA is a particularly appealing psychedelic for therapists and researchers because the subjective mental experience feels fairly stable, while creating a dramatic increase in emotional openness and a reduction in fear and anxiety.

Before you begin, be sure to read our safety section and see the special safety considerations for MDMA at the bottom of this page.

Because MDMA has anti-anxiety and anti-fear effects, it is generally considered safe to use a full dose your first time and each time you use MDMA (generally 75mg – 125mg depending on the individual). It is important to measure the dose carefully. Milligram-precision scales cost about 20 dollars (heres an Amazon search for milligram scale).

Some therapy protocols add a booster dose of about 60mg of MDMA 2-3 hours after the first dose to extend the period of therapeutic effects and provide more time for deep exploration.

MDMA will typically be in the form of a powder, pill, or crystal. Again, be sure that you are receiving pure MDMA, not mixed with other drugs or stimulants like caffeine. ‘Molly’ is another term for pure MDMA, distinguished from ‘Ecstasy’ which often contains MDMA but is not pure MDMA. If the MDMA is in pill form, youll have to be confident of the reported dosage, as fillers are added to create a pill and weighing the pill will not indicate the MDMA content. As always, do not take any MDMA if you are unsure of quantity or purity.

Once the MDMA has worn off, be sure that you drink lots of water and get a long peaceful sleep at night. MDMA can be mentally tiring and you need to rejuvenate.

Most people find that they have an afterglow from their MDMA experience that can last days or weeks, improving their mood and outlook and keeping them very open to others.

On the other hand, some people feel mentally drained by MDMA and have a foggy headed feeling for a day or two afterwards. Others will feel emotionally drained, and have a depressed mood for up to a week after the experience. Sometimes, these feelings begin two days after the experience, but not the day after. To combat this, some people who feel sensitive to that after-effect will take 5-HTP or L-Tryptophan (both are common supplements available from any source) for a few days after MDMA in an attempt to restore their serotonin levels. People who do feel drained after an MDMA session generally report that precise the MDMA dose can affect how they feel afterwards. Too much may leave them more drained than necessary. This is another reason to start with a modest, precisely measured dose to begin.

Nearly everyone, no matter how they feel the following week, finds that the thoughts, feelings, and emotional release that they experience on MDMA persists afterwards. In particular, any realizations that they had during the experiences tend to prove real and lasting.

Most remarkably, painful emotional associations with life experiences — traumas, breakups, divorces, etc — are dramatically reduced if that issue has been explored during the experience. You will find that when you think about that same painful experience after exploring it on MDMA, you will not have the same flood of emotional pain and tension that you would have had beforehand. The memory will be intact but the emotional strings will be looser.

Even for extreme emotional trauma, this holds true. In a recent research study for patients with PTSD, 83% of patients experienced reduced symptoms after just 3 MDMA sessions combined with therapy, vs. only 25% of patients who had therapy alone. Quite simple, MDMA is the most effective treatment for PTSD ever developed. Compare this level of success to traditional anti-depressants which have strong side effects and are dosed every day for years at a time (for a total of hundreds or thousands of doses) and which have very low rates of effectiveness, often just slightly above placebo.

In addition to our standard safety suggestions, there are three particularly important precautions for MDMA use:

Psychedelics have been misunderstood and misrepresented for decades. That’s changing. Please help us share safe, responsible information on using psychedelics by sending this page to friends, and posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Google:

See the rest here:

How to Use MDMA (Molly) – How to Use Psychedelics

How Mushrooms Became Magic – The Atlantic

If you were an American scientist interested in hallucinogens, the 1950s and 1960s were a great time to be working. Drugs like LSD and psilocybinthe active ingredient in magic mushroomswere legal and researchers could acquire them easily. With federal funding, they ran more than a hundred studies to see if these chemicals could treat psychiatric disorders.

That heyday ended in 1970, when Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act. It completely banned the use, sale, and transport of psychedelicsand stifled research into them. There was an expectation that you could potentially derail your career if you were found to be a psychedelics researcher, says Jason Slot from Ohio State University.

For Slot, that was a shame. He tried magic mushrooms as a young adult, and credits them with pushing him into science. It helped me to think more fluidly, with fewer assumptions or acquired constraints, he says. And I developed a greater sensitivity to natural patterns. That ability inspired him to return to graduate school and study evolution, after drifting through several post-college jobs. (They are not for everyone, they entail risks, theyre prohibited by law in many countries, and only supervised use by informed adults would be advisable, he adds.)

Ironically, he became a mycologistan aficionado of fungi. And he eventually came to study the very mushrooms that he had once experienced, precisely because so few others had. I realized how pitifully little we still knew about the genetics and ecology of such a historically significant substance, he says.

Why, for example, do mushrooms make a hallucinogen at all? Its certainly not for our benefit: These mushrooms have been around since long before people existed. So why did they evolve the ability to make psilocybin in the first place?

And why do such distantly related fungi make psilocybin? Around 200 species do so, but they arent nestled within the same part of the fungal family tree. Instead, theyre scattered around it, and each one has close relatives that arent hallucinogenic. You have some little brown mushrooms, little white mushrooms … you even have a lichen, Slot says. And youre talking tens of millions of years of divergence between those groups.

Its possible that these mushrooms evolved the ability to make psilocybin independently. It could be that all mushrooms once did so, and most of them have lost that skill. But Slot thought that neither explanation was likely. Instead, he suspected that the genes for making psilocybin had jumped between different species.

These kinds of horizontal gene transfers, where genes shortcut the usual passage from parent to offspring and instead move directly between individuals, are rare in animals, but common among bacteria. They happen in fungi, too. In the last decade, Slot has found a couple of cases where different fungi have exchanged clusters of genes that allow the recipients to produce toxins and assimilate nutrients. Could a similar mobile cluster bestow the ability to make psilocybin?

To find out, Slots team first had to discover the genes responsible for making the drug. His postdoc Hannah Reynolds searched for genes that were present in various hallucinogenic mushrooms, but not in their closest non-trippy relatives. A cluster of five genes fit the bill, and they seem to produce all the enzymes necessary to make psilocybin from its chemical predecessors.

After mapping the presence of these five genes in the fungal family tree, Slots team confirmed that they most likely spread by jumping around as a unit. Thats why theyre in the same order relative to each other across the various hallucinogenic mushrooms.

These genes seem to have originated in fungi that specialize in breaking down decaying wood or animal dung. Both materials are rich in hungry insects that compete with fungi, either by eating them directly or by going after the same nutrients. So perhaps, Slot suggests, fungi first evolved psilocybin to drug these competitors.

His idea makes sense. Psilocybin affects us humans because it fits into receptor molecules that typically respond to serotonina brain-signaling chemical. Those receptors are ancient ones that insects also share, so its likely that psilocybin interferes with their nervous system, too. We dont have a way to know the subjective experience of an insect, says Slot, and its hard to say if they trip. But one thing is clear from past experiments: Psilocybin reduces insect appetites.

By evolving the ability to make this chemical, which prevents the munchies in insects, perhaps some fungi triumphed over their competitors, and dominated the delicious worlds of dung and rotting wood. And perhaps other species gained the same powers by taking up the genes for those hallucinogens. Its not clear how they did so. Some scientists think that fungi can occasionally fuse together, giving them a chance to share their DNA, while Slot prefers the idea that in times of stress, fungi can soak up DNA from their environment. Either way, the genes for psilocybin have spread.

Much of this is speculation, based on circumstantial evidence. Since psilocybin is still a controlled substance, Slot cant legally make it in his lab, which means he cant prove that the gene cluster he identified actually produces psilocybin in mushrooms. Still, his team have done as much as they can, says Jennifer Wisecaver, an evolutionary biologist from Purdue University who studies fungal genes. Given the other evidence they provide, I’d say the hypothesis is very compelling, she says.

This work is part of a resurgence of psilobycin research. Just last week, a German team led by Dirk Hoffmeister identified four enzymes that can produce the drug, paving the way to manufacture it without growing shrooms. Other scientists have shown that psilocybin could have potential for treating depression, helping smokers to quit, and relieving the anxiety felt by cancer patients. The science thats being done on [magic mushrooms] has taken on more of an air of respectability, says Slot.

Here is the original post:

How Mushrooms Became Magic – The Atlantic

Using Mushrooms and LSD to Enhance Creativity – How to Use …

Psychedelics (specifically LSD and Mushrooms) can be extremely helpful to artists or anyone working on creative projects. Because psychedelics help us to see and think without our usual defenses, the artist’s ideas are able to sidestep their normal defensive filters (anxiety, competition, fear) resulting in truer, freer, creation. Simply put, the artist is able to hear their own voice more clearly. They know more immediately when they are being real, or being false.

Psychedelics allow us to think outside of the normal framework of time, space, language and the sensory. We may see sounds, or feel colors etc. This opens a new way of thinking about and communicating emotions and ideas. The artist is essentially given a new language. Psychedelics may also bring forth a new understanding of an individuals psyche, the physical world, emotional world, spiritual world, and the artists role in all four.

For creative work we recommend lower doses, so that you are able to focus. Wed suggest LSD doses at or under 50 mcg, and mushroom doses under .5 grams (roughly 2 small caps or an equivalent amount). As everyones sensitivity differs, you may need to experiment to find the right amount for you. When working on a low-dose your goal is not to trip but to open yourself to your own ideas.

Because you may be sitting unmoving for long periods of time as you work, your body may be very stiff toward the end of the day. To reduce stiffness or water retention drink plenty of fluids and try to take several stretching breaks. You may even want to work at a makeshift standing desk for short periods of time. Have snacks or light meals readily available. If you havent eaten all day and still dont feel hungry, eat a banana anyway — keep your energy up! Hunger affects the mood of your psychedelic experience.

Psychedelics have been misunderstood and misrepresented for decades. That’s changing. Please help us share safe, responsible information on using psychedelics by sending this page to friends, and posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Google:

Visit link:

Using Mushrooms and LSD to Enhance Creativity – How to Use …

Using Mushrooms and LSD to Enhance Creativity – How to Use …

Psychedelics (specifically LSD and Mushrooms) can be extremely helpful to artists or anyone working on creative projects. Because psychedelics help us to see and think without our usual defenses, the artist’s ideas are able to sidestep their normal defensive filters (anxiety, competition, fear) resulting in truer, freer, creation. Simply put, the artist is able to hear their own voice more clearly. They know more immediately when they are being real, or being false.

Psychedelics allow us to think outside of the normal framework of time, space, language and the sensory. We may see sounds, or feel colors etc. This opens a new way of thinking about and communicating emotions and ideas. The artist is essentially given a new language. Psychedelics may also bring forth a new understanding of an individuals psyche, the physical world, emotional world, spiritual world, and the artists role in all four.

For creative work we recommend lower doses, so that you are able to focus. Wed suggest LSD doses at or under 50 mcg, and mushroom doses under .5 grams (roughly 2 small caps or an equivalent amount). As everyones sensitivity differs, you may need to experiment to find the right amount for you. When working on a low-dose your goal is not to trip but to open yourself to your own ideas.

Because you may be sitting unmoving for long periods of time as you work, your body may be very stiff toward the end of the day. To reduce stiffness or water retention drink plenty of fluids and try to take several stretching breaks. You may even want to work at a makeshift standing desk for short periods of time. Have snacks or light meals readily available. If you havent eaten all day and still dont feel hungry, eat a banana anyway — keep your energy up! Hunger affects the mood of your psychedelic experience.

Psychedelics have been misunderstood and misrepresented for decades. That’s changing. Please help us share safe, responsible information on using psychedelics by sending this page to friends, and posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Google:

Link:

Using Mushrooms and LSD to Enhance Creativity – How to Use …

This Philosopher Thinks Psychedelic Drugs Lead to the Truth of Experience – Big Think

Philosopher Chris Letheby believes that psychedelic drugs are a legitimate way to achieve a spiritual and therapeutic transformation. His doctoral research at the University of Adelaide was the first systematic attempt to relate psychedelic experience and 21st century philosophy of cognitive science. He argued in his thesis that psychedelics can be rightfully regarded as bringing a deeper understanding of our selves and the world around us. In fact, he says, the use of psychedelics is very much consistent with philosophical naturalism and our current scientific knowledge.

While using psychedelics, Letheby maintains, subjects gain knowledge of their own psychological potential and the fact that their selves are constructed. He expanded on these ideas in his recent interview with the 3:AM Magazine.

Letheby says that as recent scientific evidence shows, psychedelic sessions can lead to the reduction in the symptoms of anxiety, addiction and depression. Since these activities prevent people from engaging with the world, our normal way of gaining knowledge, psychedelics provide what Letheby calls epistemic benefits – allowing the patients to get reconnected and be able to once again take in information.

Chris Letheby.

The philosopher described his philosophy as physicalism or materialism that basically says the mind and consciousness emerge from the complex organisation of non-minded, non-conscious things. He thinks that from that standpoint, psychedelic states can allow the subjects to gain genuine knowledge of psychology.

Specifically, I think psychedelic subjects gain what philosophers call knowledge by acquaintance of their own vast psychological potential, says Letheby. They become directly acquaintedbecause it becomes manifestwith the modal or dispositional fact that there are vastly many, often very unusual, possible ways that their minds can be.

This is why, he claims, many spiritual seekers of the 60s ended up dedicated to meditation to expand upon the potential they realized existed while tripping.

He also thinks psychedelics can illustrate to people that the self is constructed. He thinks the drugs can offer a quicker path than meditation to having a transformative ego dissolution experience.

To those who criticize psychedelics as not providing a true experience since its not grounded in reality, Letheby says such drugs can really lead to real knowledge.

My claim is not just that psychedelic experience involves meaning, but that psychedelic transformation does, expounds Letheby. I mean something very specific by this: that the causal process leading from psychedelic ingestion to psychological benefit (be it therapeutic or cosmetic) essentially involves phenomenally conscious mental representations. This is important because it is a way of making precise the claim that psychedelic transformation is a distinctive type of psychopharmacological intervention.

In a Matrix-like twist, the philosopher also argues that psychedelic experiences can show that the ordinary waking perception is actually a controlled hallucination. What psychedelics do is disrupt this illusion and could draw peoples attention to the constructed or simulated nature of the reality in which they live. The drugs can show that the entire world they inhabit is produced by and exists within their consciousness.

Check out the full interview here, with a fascinating discussion of other topics like the role of neuroscience and antidepressants in our lives.

See the article here:

This Philosopher Thinks Psychedelic Drugs Lead to the Truth of Experience – Big Think

Using Mushrooms and LSD to Enhance Creativity – How to Use …

Psychedelics (specifically LSD and Mushrooms) can be extremely helpful to artists or anyone working on creative projects. Because psychedelics help us to see and think without our usual defenses, the artist’s ideas are able to sidestep their normal defensive filters (anxiety, competition, fear) resulting in truer, freer, creation. Simply put, the artist is able to hear their own voice more clearly. They know more immediately when they are being real, or being false.

Psychedelics allow us to think outside of the normal framework of time, space, language and the sensory. We may see sounds, or feel colors etc. This opens a new way of thinking about and communicating emotions and ideas. The artist is essentially given a new language. Psychedelics may also bring forth a new understanding of an individuals psyche, the physical world, emotional world, spiritual world, and the artists role in all four.

For creative work we recommend lower doses, so that you are able to focus. Wed suggest LSD doses at or under 50 mcg, and mushroom doses under .5 grams (roughly 2 small caps or an equivalent amount). As everyones sensitivity differs, you may need to experiment to find the right amount for you. When working on a low-dose your goal is not to trip but to open yourself to your own ideas.

Because you may be sitting unmoving for long periods of time as you work, your body may be very stiff toward the end of the day. To reduce stiffness or water retention drink plenty of fluids and try to take several stretching breaks. You may even want to work at a makeshift standing desk for short periods of time. Have snacks or light meals readily available. If you havent eaten all day and still dont feel hungry, eat a banana anyway — keep your energy up! Hunger affects the mood of your psychedelic experience.

Psychedelics have been misunderstood and misrepresented for decades. That’s changing. Please help us share safe, responsible information on using psychedelics by sending this page to friends, and posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Google:

Read the rest here:

Using Mushrooms and LSD to Enhance Creativity – How to Use …

How MDMA & Other Psychedelics Could Change Therapy | Goop

Psychedelic drugs that have been considered recreational for decadesand classified as drugs of abuse by the FDAare showing major promise as potential solutions for hard-to-treat disorders and illnesses (see this goop piece on ibogaine and addiction, as well as this one on ayahuasca). Usually associated with the street names ecstasy or molly (although its not actually the same), the drug MDMA is in new clinical trials to treat PTSD and anxiety; other possible therapeutic applications are being explored, too.

Emily Williams, M.D. is a resident psychiatrist at UCSF and trained MDMA-assisted psychotherapist working with MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), a non-profit pharmaceutical research organization leading the way on MDMA research. In Williams current work, she has patients take MDMA while undergoing tailored psychotherapy sessions. MDMA is thought to enhance the efficacy of psychotherapy by reducing the fear response, and strengthening the sense of the trust between patient and therapist. MDMA seems to bring about an internal awareness that even painful feelings that arise are important to the therapeutic process, says Williams. Many people describe the experience of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as years of therapy in one day.

Below, Williams tells us how MDMA might change the future of various therapy modalities, as well as how we think about psychedelics.

Q

Can you explain what MDMA is?

A

MDMA is not the same as ecstasy or molly, which may contain MDMA, but frequently also contain unknown and/or dangerous adulterants. (Its important to note that in clinical research trials, the MDMA used is created in a strictly regulated lab setting and monitored by both the FDA and DEA.)

In technical terms, MDMA (3, 4-methelynedioxymethamphetamine) is a monoamine releaser and re-uptake inhibitor that affects serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin. This means that it causes an increase in serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the body, and also allows for increased serotonin activity at certain receptors in the brain.

MDMA was first synthesized in 1912 by Merck in an effort to develop a compound to stop abnormal bleeding. It wasnt thought to have a medical benefit until it was rediscovered by Alexander Shulgin, Ph.D. in Northern California in 1976 and spread by psychiatrists and psychologists who reported seeing benefits to its use as an adjunct to psychotherapy in individuals and couples.

Q

What does MDMA-assisted psychotherapy entail, and who is it meant for?

A

Clinical trials have primarily investigated MDMA as treatment for PTSD, but there have also been studies on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for social anxiety in autistic adults, anxiety related to life-threatening illness, as well as in couples therapy. (As mentioned above, in the late 1970s and early 80s, before MDMA was reclassified as a drug of abuse, it was used with anecdotal success in individual and couples therapy.)

In MAPS clinical research trials, a course of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy begins with a series of psychotherapy sessions, sans drugs, to establish the therapeutic relationship and safe space for processing.

This preparatory phase is followed by a series of MDMA psychotherapy sessions: Each one lasts about six to eight hours and consists of the patient orally ingesting MDMA and resting in a comfortable position with eyes closed or wearing an eye mask, while listening to music thats initially relaxing and then emotionally evocative. Throughout these experimental MDMA sessions, periods of patient introspection alternate organically with periods of conversation with the therapists, largely determined by the desire of the patient.

The MDMA sessions are followed by integration sessions (no drugs involved) that last about 90 minutes, where the patient and therapist talk about insights gained during the experimental sessions, and how they relate to the trauma or other issues that were brought up during the preparatory phases.

Read More

Q

Can you tell us about the results so far?

A

The combined results from the PTSD studies are very promising: After just two sessions of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, 52.7% of 74 study participants no longer met criteria for PTSD, versus 22.6% of the placebo group. Among all study participants who received active dose MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, 67.4% of 86 participants no longer met criteria for PTSD at the twelve-month follow up. This shows that not only is MDMA-assisted psychotherapy effective for treating PTSD, its benefits are long-lasting. No other psychiatric medications or therapies currently available are comparable.

Q

Whats the treatment like for the patient?

A

The MDMA experience itself has been described as having an enhanced mood, heightened sense of openness, sense of closeness with others, and increased connection with ones intuition or what we refer to as inner healing intelligence. A large majority of patients in the clinical trials have reported that their course of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy was profound and life-changing. Many describe it as years of therapy in one day.

Q

Would MDMA be effective on its own, without the therapy session, or does it work because of the interaction of the two?

A

MDMAs effectiveness is reliant on the accompanying psychotherapy. It is thought that MDMA increases trust and strengthens the therapeutic alliance (the relationship between patient and therapist)that relationship is actually the number-one factor determining the efficacy of psychotherapy. MDMA is thought to catalyze the healing process, which is further supported by highly trained MDMA therapists. MDMA seems to bring about an internal awareness that even painful feelings that arise are important to the therapeutic process. The MDMA and psychotherapy complement each other to foster a clearer perspective, helping the patient understand that the trauma is an event from the past, and to see the support and safety that exists for them in the present moment.

This process also relies on concepts of set and setting: Set is the intention of the patient, the preparations they have made, as well as their mental and physical characteristics. The setting is the physical/interpersonal environment that can contribute to a persons altered state of consciousness. The psychotherapeutic frame of MDMA-assisted therapy is so important; the preparatory process works towards establishing an optimal set and setting for the MDMA experience.

It is also important to stress that there are medical risks associated with MDMA use, including hyperthermia, cardiac complications, as well as a potentially fatal complication called Serotonin Syndrome, so close supervision by a physician is critical.

Q

How is MDMA/psychotherapy treatment thought to decrease the fear response in patients?

A

MDMA can reduce a patients perceived threat to their emotional integrity; it can also decrease defensiveness without blocking access to memories, or preventing a deep and genuine experience of emotion. Eliminating your conditioned fear responses can lead to more open, comfortable communication about past traumatic events and give you greater access to information about those events. Some studies show a decrease in communication between the amygdala (the fear-processing area of the brain) and hippocampus (memory storage) with MDMA compared to a placebo, however the actual mechanism of action remains unknown, which is why further research is crucial in this growing field.

Q

Could MDMA be used for other applications/to treat other conditions?

A

MDMA-psychotherapy has the potential to be used to supplement more traditional therapy modalities, such as psychodynamic or cognitive behavioral therapies, as a way to explore personal growth and overall wellbeing.

Q

Besides MDMA, which psychedelic drugs do you think are most promising in terms of potential therapeutic applications?

A

There are a number of different psychedelics being studied currently for a variety of disorders, ranging from depression to addiction and tobacco cessation. At this moment, I would say that psilocybin (the active compound in psychedelic magic mushrooms) is also very promising in terms of becoming legalized for clinical use. The Amazonian brew, ayahuasca is also showing benefit in some recent research studies for a variety of disorders, including trauma and depression.

Q

MAPS work is all privately funded; do you see federal funding (or FDA approval) on the horizon?

A

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is undertaking a roughly $25-million effort to make MDMA into an FDA-approved prescription medication by 2021; its currently the only organization in the world thats funding clinical trials on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Were closer than ever before to seeing federal research funding awards to projects focusing on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. We are experiencing a societal, cultural shift in how psychedelics are perceived and I hope that as more people express interest, the funding will follow.

Q

How did MAPS get started, and how did you become involved with the organization?

A

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on pharmaceutical research. It was founded in 1986 by Rick Doblin, Ph.D. in an effort to preserve the therapeutic use of MDMA after it was identified by the US DEA as a drug of abuse. Doblin realized that to legitimize psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, wed have to prove its efficacy via clinical trials. Nearly a decade later the first FDA-approved, double-blind, placebo-controlled US Phase I dose-response safety study of MDMA was published; it was sponsored by MAPS. MAPS is now beginning the first Phase 3 multi-site clinical trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of PTSD, one of the last steps towards MDMA becoming an FDA-approved medication.

I first became connected with MAPS when I was in medical school in Charleston, South Carolina, which also happened to be the site of one of the original MDMA-assisted psychotherapy studies in the US. Over the last several years, I have trained as an MDMA-assisted psychotherapist with MAPS in parallel with my psychiatry residency, and I will be a therapist and team co-leader on our clinical PTSD trial. Im also working on an MDMA psychotherapy study for anxiety related to life-threatening illness.

Emily Williams, M.D., is a resident psychiatrist at UCSF where she is conducting an analysis of the effects of MDMA on therapeutic alliance, as well as serving as co-investigator on a clinical trial for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. She is a mentor for the Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and works as the independent clinical rater for a MAPS-funded study on MDMA for end-of-life anxiety. In addition to her clinical and research work, she serves as a supervisor for the Zendo Project, which provides psychedelic harm reduction for events and festivals.

The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of goop, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Go here to read the rest:

How MDMA & Other Psychedelics Could Change Therapy | Goop

This Philosopher Thinks Psychedelic Drugs Lead to the Truth of Experience – Big Think

Philosopher Chris Letheby believes that psychedelic drugs are a legitimate way to achieve a spiritual and therapeutic transformation. His doctoral research at the University of Adelaide was the first systematic attempt to relate psychedelic experience and 21st century philosophy of cognitive science. He argued in his thesis that psychedelics can be rightfully regarded as bringing a deeper understanding of our selves and the world around us. In fact, he says, the use of psychedelics is very much consistent with philosophical naturalism and our current scientific knowledge.

While using psychedelics, Letheby maintains, subjects gain knowledge of their own psychological potential and the fact that their selves are constructed. He expanded on these ideas in his recent interview with the 3:AM Magazine.

Letheby says that as recent scientific evidence shows, psychedelic sessions can lead to the reduction in the symptoms of anxiety, addiction and depression. Since these activities prevent people from engaging with the world, our normal way of gaining knowledge, psychedelics provide what Letheby calls epistemic benefits – allowing the patients to get reconnected and be able to once again take in information.

Chris Letheby.

The philosopher described his philosophy as physicalism or materialism that basically says the mind and consciousness emerge from the complex organisation of non-minded, non-conscious things. He thinks that from that standpoint, psychedelic states can allow the subjects to gain genuine knowledge of psychology.

Specifically, I think psychedelic subjects gain what philosophers call knowledge by acquaintance of their own vast psychological potential, says Letheby. They become directly acquaintedbecause it becomes manifestwith the modal or dispositional fact that there are vastly many, often very unusual, possible ways that their minds can be.

This is why, he claims, many spiritual seekers of the 60s ended up dedicated to meditation to expand upon the potential they realized existed while tripping.

He also thinks psychedelics can illustrate to people that the self is constructed. He thinks the drugs can offer a quicker path than meditation to having a transformative ego dissolution experience.

To those who criticize psychedelics as not providing a true experience since its not grounded in reality, Letheby says such drugs can really lead to real knowledge.

My claim is not just that psychedelic experience involves meaning, but that psychedelic transformation does, expounds Letheby. I mean something very specific by this: that the causal process leading from psychedelic ingestion to psychological benefit (be it therapeutic or cosmetic) essentially involves phenomenally conscious mental representations. This is important because it is a way of making precise the claim that psychedelic transformation is a distinctive type of psychopharmacological intervention.

In a Matrix-like twist, the philosopher also argues that psychedelic experiences can show that the ordinary waking perception is actually a controlled hallucination. What psychedelics do is disrupt this illusion and could draw peoples attention to the constructed or simulated nature of the reality in which they live. The drugs can show that the entire world they inhabit is produced by and exists within their consciousness.

Check out the full interview here, with a fascinating discussion of other topics like the role of neuroscience and antidepressants in our lives.

Read more:

This Philosopher Thinks Psychedelic Drugs Lead to the Truth of Experience – Big Think

Crazy Enough to be Correct – HuffPost

Scientific journals almost always limit themselves to reporting the results of highly technicexperiments. Magazines for a general audience often treat scientific findings clumsily as metaphors. I have wondered whether wed be served by a third type of publication, which would solicit conjectures that the author is not equipped to test, or otherwise fails to test, but that might inspire some one else.

For example, what if this publication contained conjectures like Fermats famous marginalia (his last theorem), scribbled in a book in 1637 but only proven in 1994? Of course, most conjectures have not been as fruitful as Fermats, not to say correct. We tend to forget that the process of discovery, taken as a whole, is often messy. Unlike Fermats, most conjectures are wrong, so the challenge is not only proving the few, but generating the many and then considering them.

I am told that at Google, its a firing offense to shoot down any idea before its had an opportunity to be explored, even played with, and perhaps to inspire still other ideas.

When at Columbia University the physicist Wolfgang Pauli presented his non-linear field theory of elementary particles, worked out with Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr was in the audience. Asked for his groups opinion, Bohr replied, as reported by Freeman Dyson, We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct.

Of course far from all ideas that seem crazy turn out to be correct, but ideas that challenge a prevailing paradigm often seem crazy. What if there were a publication that contained not reports of careful experiments, after peer review, as scientific journals do, but unproven conjectures? As at Google, now one of the most valuable corporations in the world, perhaps even an idea that turns out to be wrong would be useful in suggesting a further idea.

Thanks to the recorder on my cell phone, I can offer on example. Sitting alone in a diner booth, I overheard the following conversation

A: What if our brains are always generating the imagery associated with classic psychedelics? What if ordinary reality is produced by relegating this wild imagery to the unconscious?

B: That feels ridiculous, even (unintelligible). Everyone knows that psychedelics work by amplifying what we call ordinarilyconsciousness, or distorting or playing with it, by activating new circuits in the brain.

A. Well, just play along for a while. Its widely recognized that an optimal psychedelic session does not involve the operation of heavy machinery, or exposure to other dangers.

B: or irrevocable life decisions. I know, but how does that prove your point?

A: Well, imagine that in evolutionary history, this wild imagery developed, as we know that the ability to dream developed, and the ability to speculate (to imagine things that arent but might be). In the case of wild imagery, this ability might impose an evolutionary disadvantage, and would be either selected against or somehow suppressed.

B: But you speculate that we all still have this psychedelic flow?.

A: Yes, and that we developed the ability automatically to keep it out of consciousness, just as we learn that dreams arent real and we learn to keep secret fantasies that are socially and maybe personally unacceptable.

B: So, in the case of this constant stream of psychedelic imagery, we somehow block it from consciousness?

A: Yes, in order to deal with immediate demands of life.

B: And psychedelics do what?

A: In this conjecture, they deactivate the part of the brain that ordinarily keeps this imagery out of consciousness.

B: They temporarily block the mental blocker favored by evolution?

A: Yes. We know the brain is highly selective with regard to socially unacceptable fantasies, and to what Jung called the shadow, or impulses that are contrary to our identity and that we may project onto others.

B: Well, the vision of a constant flow of psychedelic imagery would cast the war on drugs in a new light.

A: As the ideas of Freud and Jung and other psychologists in the last century taught us the brain is up to more tricks than people normally acknowledged.

B: Okay, lets explore some implications.

A: I appreciate your taking this seriously, at least for a while, or at least pretending to do so.

B: Okay, what you are saying is that psilocybin or another classic psychedelic doesn’t create the wild imagery; it reveals the imagery?

A: Yes, and this includes a conjecture about evolutionary history. Somehow the wildness began to get started in the connections of all those neurons, but it was disadvantageous for ordinary life. An emergent part of the brain that kept the flow out of consciousness was selected for. Here we are.

B: But I gather that magnetic resonance imaging has shown a brain activation after the ingestion of psychedelics.

A: That is not inconsistent with the conjecture. When the restraint is deactivated by the drug, then new connections could occur.

B: So this conjecture posits a brain structure that ordinarily keeps an ongoing psychedelic flow out of consciousness?

A: Yes, and as you suggest, an inherent psychedelic flow in every human, a flow that he or she is ordinarily unaware of.

B: That is a mischievous idea, almost a scandalous idea.

A: So if this conjecture were correct, psychedelics feel dangerous not because they induce fantasies, but because they uncover something that is naturally occurring.

At this point the waitress came by with my change, and noticing the time, I had to leave. But if I ever hear of a website devoted to conjectures, I will try to find these guys. They looked normal, at least for graduate students. Chances are, they are mistaken, but who knows?

The Morning Email

Wake up to the day’s most important news.

Read the original post:

Crazy Enough to be Correct – HuffPost

The foundation of Western philosophy is probably rooted in psychedelics – Quartz

In the 1960s, intellectuals such as Aldous Huxley were fascinated by the effects of LSD, but today most professors are far too worried about respectability and tenure to investigate psychedelics themselves. Which is somewhat ironic, given that the field of Western philosophy has a huge debt to psychedelics, according to Peter Sjstedt-H, a philosophy doctoral candidate at University of Exeter who has written a book on the philosophical significance of drugs. In fact, one of Platos most-cited theories may have been a direct result of hallucinogenics.

In Platos Phaedo, the philosopher says he was inspired by the Eleusinian Mysteries, an ancient religious ceremony where participants took kykeon. Its widely believed (thought cannot be definitively proven) that kykeon was a psychoactive substance, which would explain the visions that participants experienced during the ceremony. Sjstedt-H notes that Plato references the Mysteries and seeing that his body is but a shell, which one can escape through these experiences, before he introduces his landmark notion of substance dualism: Namely, the idea that body and soul are distinct.

Under psychedelic experience, you can completely lose the link between you, yourself as a body; and you, yourself as the person that you think you are, including your memories, says Sjstedt-H. Theres this loss to the self, and the self is often associated with the body, so I can certainly see why a psychedelic experience would incline one towards a more dualistic view of the world.

If the Mysteries did indeed involve psychedelics, Sjstedt-H says we can credit them with inspiring some of the greatest and most influential thoughts in history.

[Alfred North] Whitehead famously said, Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato. If Plato was inspired by psychedelics, then the whole of the Western canon is unwittingly inspired by these experiences, Sjstedt-H adds.

More than 2000 years later, Sjstedt-H believes that its absolutely essential to understand psychedelic experiences in order to develop a thorough philosophy of how the mind functions. You havent fully explained the mind until youve explained all facets of it, he says.

Psychedelics create a peak type of mind, a peak type of experience and, as such, theyre a valuable consideration in certain philosophical mysteries, like understanding the relationship between the brain and the mind. Research has shown that parts of the brain are less active during psychedelic experiences, which is the inverse of what one might expect for a period of heightened consciousness. This finding highlights the complexities of explaining how the mind and brain relate, which is one of the great philosophical challenges, known as the hard problem of consciousness.

But even among non-philosophers, Sjstedt-H believes that a lifetime without trying psychedelics is unnecessarily narrow. Experientially, it would be a pity to live ones life without having experienced the potentials of the human mind, he says. Its a bit like living in the same country all ones life and not going on holiday, not seeing the rest of the world. Its a loss. By having this experience, one experiences more reality because the mind is part of reality.

He adds that psychedelics can open your mind to new beliefs, increase appreciation for nature, and lead to completely new feelings. As well as being intellectually stimulating, Sjstedt-H says that psychedelics can be a sublime aesthetic experience.

Despite the potential benefits, Sjstedt-H does not believe that everyone should take psychedelics. Nor does he insist, as was common in the 60s, that doing so would lead to world peace. When I told Sjstedt-H that I was too afraid of my own mind to risk exploring its suppressed depths, he agreed that was a valid concern. Bad trips are a serious risk, and more troubling for some than others. Those who are religious (and so would be more profoundly affected by visions of devils, for example), are especially anxious, or have suffered serious traumas, could well find psychedelics to be harmful rather than enlightening.

We have no clear idea of how psychedelics produce their effect; but its thought that changes in brain activity create an altered state of consciousness. For those who are able to have a positive experience on psychedelics, Sjstedt-H says taking the drugs can be as profound as reading Nietzsche. Both the philosopher and the substance lead to questioning ones cultural values and societal rules, he notes.

Arguably, taking psychedelics can also enhance the experience of reading philosophy; Sjstedt-H points to the psychologist and philosopher William James, who claimed to only fully understand Hegel after taking nitrous oxide. (Though drugs havent improved Sjstedt-Hs own reading of Hegel.)

Though other philosophers are interested in hearing about his work and experiences with psychedelics, Sjstedt-H acknowledges that few are prepared to try the drugs, at least for now. Many are worried about the psychological risks, put off by their illegality, or simply dont want to mess with their brains.

But Sjstedt-H hopes that growing acceptance of the drugs will allow for a study of how psychedelics could shape the opinions and outlooks of great contemporary thinkers. They were good enough for Plato, after all.

Go here to see the original:

The foundation of Western philosophy is probably rooted in psychedelics – Quartz

LSD as therapy: How scientists are reclaiming psychedelics …

At 6.30am on Thursday 29 October 2009, Friederike Meckel Fischers doorbell rang. There were ten policemen outside. They searched the house, put handcuffs on Friederike a diminutive woman in her 60s and her husband, and took them to a remand prison. The couple had their photographs and fingerprints taken and were put in separate cells in isolation. After a few hours, Friederike, a psychotherapist, was taken for questioning.

The officer read back to her the promise of secrecy she had each client make at the start of her group therapy sessions. Then I knew I was really in trouble, she says.

I promise not to divulge the location or names of the people present or the medication. I promise not to harm myself or others in any way during or after this experience. I promise that I will come out of this experience healthier and wiser. I take personal responsibility for what I do here.

The Swiss police had been tipped off by a former client whose husband had left her after they had attended therapy. She held Friederike responsible.

What got Friederike in trouble were her unorthodox therapy methods. Alongside separate sessions of conventional talk therapy, she offered a catalyst, a tool to help her clients reconnect with their feelings, with people around them, and with difficult experiences in their lives. That catalyst was LSD. In many of her sessions, they would also use another substance: MDMA, or ecstasy.

Friederike was accused of putting her clients in danger, dealing drugs for profit, and endangering society with intrinsically dangerous drugs. Such psychedelic therapy is on the fringes of both psychiatry and society. Yet LSD and MDMA began life as medicines for therapy, and new trials are testing whether they could be again.

In 1943, Albert Hofmann, a chemist at the Sandoz pharmaceutical laboratory in Basel, Switzerland, was trying to develop drugs to constrict blood vessels when he accidentally ingested a small quantity of lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD. The effects shook him. As he writes in his book LSD, My Problem Child:

Objects as well as the shape of my associates in the laboratory appeared to undergo optical changes Light was so intense as to be unpleasant. I drew the curtains and immediately fell into a peculiar state of drunkenness, characterised by an exaggerated imagination. With my eyes closed, fantastic pictures of extraordinary plasticity and intensive colour seemed to surge towards me. After two hours, this state gradually subsided and I was able to eat dinner with a good appetite.

Intrigued, he decided to take the drug a second time in the presence of colleagues, an experiment to determine whether it was indeed the cause. The faces of his colleagues soon appeared like grotesque coloured masks, he writes:

I lost all control of time: space and time became more and more disorganised and I was overcome with fears that I was going crazy. The worst part of it was that I was clearly aware of my condition though I was incapable of stopping it.

Occasionally I felt as being outside my body. I thought I had died. My ego was suspended somewhere in space and I saw my body lying dead on the sofa.

“I observed and registered clearly that my alter ego was moving around the room, moaning.

But he seemed particularly struck by what he felt the next morning: Breakfast tasted delicious and was an extraordinary pleasure. When I later walked out into the garden, in which the sun shone now after a spring rain, everything glistened and sparkled in a fresh light. The world was as if newly created. All my senses vibrated in a condition of highest sensitivity that persisted for the entire day.

Hofmann felt it was of great significance that he could remember the experience in detail. He believed the drug could hold tremendous value to psychiatry. The Sandoz labs, after ensuring it was non-toxic to rats, mice and humans, soon started offering it for scientific and medical use.

One of the first to start using the drug was Ronald Sandison. The British psychiatrist visited Sandoz in 1952 and, impressed by Hofmanns research, left with 100 vials of what was by then called Delysid. Sandison immediately began giving it to patients at Powick Hospital in Worcestershire who were failing to make progress in traditional psychotherapy. After three years, the hospital bosses were so pleased with the results that they built a new LSD clinic. Patients would arrive in the morning, take their LSD, then lie down in private rooms. Each had a record player and a blackboard for drawing on, and nurses or registrars would check on them regularly. At 4pm the patients would convene and discuss their experiences, then a driver would take them home, sometimes while they were still under the influence of the drug.

Around the same time, another British psychiatrist, Humphry Osmond, working in Canada, experimented with using LSD to help alcoholics stop drinking. He reported that the drug, in combination with supportive psychiatry, achieved abstinence rates of 4045 per cent far higher than any other treatment at the time or since. Elsewhere, studies of people with terminal cancer showed that LSD therapy could relieve severe pain, improve quality of life and alleviate the fear of death.

In the USA, the CIA tried giving LSD to unsuspecting members of the public to see if it would make them give up secrets. Meanwhile at Harvard University, Timothy Leary encouraged by, among others, the beat poet Allen Ginsberg gave it to artists and writers, who would then describe their experiences. When rumours spread that he was giving drugs to students, law-enforcement officials started investigating and the university warned students against taking the drug. Leary took the opportunity to preach about the drugs power as an aid to spiritual development, and was soon sacked from Harvard, which further fuelled his and the drugs notoriety. The scandal had caught the eye of the press and soon the whole country had heard of LSD.

By 1962, Sandoz was cutting back on its distribution of LSD, the result of restrictions on experimental drug use brought on by an altogether different drug scandal: birth defects linked to the morning-sickness drug thalidomide. Paradoxically, the restrictions coincided with an increase in LSDs availability the formula was not difficult or expensive to obtain, and those who were determined to could synthesise it with moderate difficulty and in great amounts.

Still, moral panic about its effects on young minds was rife. The authorities were also worried about LSDs association with the counterculture movement and the spread of anti-authoritarian views. Calls for a nationwide ban soon followed, and many psychiatrists stopped using LSD as its negative reputation grew.

One of many stories in the press told of Stephen Kessler, who murdered his mother-in-law and claimed afterwards that he didnt remember what hed done as he was flying on LSD. In the trial, it emerged that he had taken LSD a month earlier, and at the time of the murder was intoxicated only with alcohol and sleeping pills, but millions believed that LSD had turned him into a killer. Another report told of college students who went blind after staring at the sun on LSD.

Two US Senate subcommittees held in 1966 heard from doctors who claimed that LSD caused psychosis and the loss of all cultural values, as well as from LSD supporters such as Leary and Senator Robert Kennedy, whose wife Ethel was said to have undergone LSD therapy. Perhaps to some extent we have lost sight of the fact that it can be very, very helpful in our society if used properly, said Kennedy, challenging the Food and Drug Administration for shutting down LSD research programmes.

Possession of LSD was made illegal in the UK in 1966 and in the USA in 1968. Experimental use by researchers was still possible with licences, but with the stigma attached to the drugs legal status, these became extremely hard to get. Research ground to a halt, but illegal recreational use carried on.

At the age of 40, after 21 years of marriage, Friederike Meckel Fischer fell in love with another man. Sadly, as she soon discovered, he was using her to get out of his own marriage. I had a pain within myself with this man having left me, with my husband whom I couldnt connect to, she says. It was just like I was out of myself.

Her solution was to become a psychotherapist. She says she never thought of going into therapy herself, which in 1980s West Germany was reserved for only the most serious conditions. Besides which, her upbringing taught her to do things herself rather than seek help from others.

Friederike was at the time working as an occupational physician. She recognised that many of the problems she saw in her patients were rooted in problems with their bosses, colleagues or families. I came to the conclusion that everything they were having trouble with was connected to relationship issues, she says.

A former professor of hers recommended she try a technique called holotropic breathwork. Developed by Stanislav Grof, one of the pioneers of LSD psychotherapy, this is a way to induce altered states of consciousness through accelerated and deeper breathing, like hyperventilation. Grof had developed holotropic breathwork in response to bans on LSD use around the world.

Over three years, travelling back and forth to the USA on holidays, Friederike underwent training with Grof as a holotropic breathwork facilitator. At the end of it, Grof encouraged her to try psychedelics.

In the last seminar, a colleague gave her two little blue pills as a gift. When she got back to Germany, Friederike shared one of the blue pills with her friend Konrad, who later became her husband. She says she felt herself lifted by a wave and thrown onto a white beach, able to access parts of her psyche that were off-limits before. The first experience was breathtaking for me, she says. I only thought: Thats it. I can see things. And I started feeling. That was, for me, unbelievable.

The pills were MDMA, a drug which had entered the spotlight in 1976 when American chemist Alexander Sasha Shulgin rediscovered it 62 years after it was patented by Merck and then forgotten. In a story echoing that of LSDs origins, upon taking it, Shulgin noted feelings of pure euphoria and solid inner strength, and felt he could talk about deep or personal subjects with special clarity. He introduced it to his friend Leo Zeff, a retired psychotherapist who had worked with LSD and believed the obligation to help patients took priority over the law. Zeff had continued to work with LSD secretly after its prohibition. MDMAs potential brought Zeff out of retirement. He travelled around the USA and Europe to instruct therapists on MDMA therapy. He called it Adam because it put the patient in a primordial state of innocence, but at the same time, it had acquired another name in nightclubs: ecstasy.

MDMA was made illegal in the UK by a 1977 ruling that put the entire chemical family in the most tightly controlled category: class A. In the USA, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), set up by Richard Nixon in 1973, declared a temporary ban in 1985. At a hearing to decide its permanent status, the judge recommended that it should be placed in schedule three, which would allow use by therapists. But the DEA overruled the judges decision and put MDMA in schedule one, the most restrictive category. Under American influence, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs gave MDMA a similar classification under international law (though an expert committee formed by the World Health Organization argued that such severe restrictions were not warranted).

Schedule one substances are permitted to be used in research under the UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. In Britain and the USA, researchers and their institutions must apply for special licences, but these are expensive to obtain, and finding manufacturers who will supply controlled drugs is difficult.

But in Switzerland, which at the time was not a signatory to the convention, a small group of psychiatrists persuaded the government to permit the use of LSD and MDMA in therapy. From 1985 until the mid-1990s, licensed therapists were permitted to give the drugs to any patients, to train other therapists in using the drugs, and to take them themselves, with little oversight.

Believing that MDMA might help her gain a deeper understanding of her own problems, Friederike applied for a place on a psycholytic therapy course in Switzerland. In 1992, she and Konrad were accepted into a training group run by a licensed therapist named Samuel Widmer.

The course took place on weekends every three months at Widmers house in Solothurn, a town west of Zurich. Central to the training was taking the substances a number of times, 12 altogether, to get to know their effects and go through a process of self-exploration. Friederike says the drug experiences showed her how her whole life had been coloured by the loss of her father at the age of 5 and the hardship of growing up in postwar West Germany.

I can detect relations, interconnections between things that I couldnt see before, she says of her experiences with MDMA.

I could look at difficult experiences in my life without getting right away thrown into them again. I could for example see a traumatic experience but not connect to the horrible feeling of the moment.

“I knew it was a horrible thing, and I could feel that I have had fear but I didnt feel the fear.

People on psychedelic highs often speak of profound, spiritual experiences. Back in the 1960s, Walter Pahnke, a student of Timothy Leary, conducted a notorious experiment at Boston Universitys Marsh Chapel showing that psychedelics could induce these.

He gave ten volunteers a large dose of psilocybin the active ingredient in magic mushrooms and ten an active placebo, nicotinic acid, which caused a tingling sensation but no mental effects. Eight of the psilocybin group had spiritual experiences, compared with one of the placebo group. In later studies, researchers have identified core characteristics of such experiences, including ineffability, the inability to put it into words; paradoxicality, the belief that contradictory things are true at the same time; and feeling more connected to other people or things.

When the experience can be really useful is when they feel a connection even with someone who has caused them hurt, and an understanding of what may have caused them to behave in the way they did, says Robin Carhart-Harris, a psychedelics researcher at Imperial College London. I think the power to achieve those kinds of realisations really speaks to the incredible value of psychedelics and captures why they can be so effective and valuable in therapy. I think that can only really happen when defences dissolve away. Defences get in the way of those realisations.

He compares the feeling of connection with things beyond oneself to the overview effect felt by astronauts when they look back on the Earth. All of a sudden they think, How silly of me and people in general to have conflict and silly little hang-ups that we think are massive and important. When youre up in space looking down on the entirety of the Earth, it puts it into perspective. I think a similar kind of overview is engendered by psychedelics.

Carhart-Harris is conducting the first clinical trial to study psilocybin as a treatment for depression. He is one of a few researchers across the world who are pushing ahead with research on psychedelic therapy. Twelve people have taken part in his study so far.

They begin with a brain scan, and a long preparation session with the psychiatrists. On the therapy day, they arrive at 9am, complete a questionnaire, and have tests to make sure they havent taken other drugs. The therapy room has been decorated with drapes, ornaments, coloured glowing lights, electric candles, and an aromatiser. A PhD student, who is also a musician, has prepared a playlist, which the patient can listen to either through headphones or from high-quality speakers in the room. They spend most of the session lying on a bed, exploring their thoughts. Two psychiatrists sit with them, and interact when the patient wants to talk. The patients have two therapy sessions: one with a low dose, then one with a high dose. Afterwards, they have a follow-up session to help them integrate their experiences and cultivate healthier ways of thinking.

I meet Kirk, one of the participants, two months after his high-dose session. Kirk had been depressed, particularly since his mothers death three years ago. He experienced entrenched thought patterns, like going round and round on a racetrack of negative thoughts, he says. I wasnt as motivated, I wasnt doing as much, I wasnt exercising any more, I wasnt as social, I was having anxiety quite a bit. It just deteriorated. I got to the point where I felt pretty hopeless. It didnt match really what was going on in my life. I had a lot of good things going on in my life. Im employed, Ive got a job, Ive got family, but really it was like a quagmire that you sink into.

At the peak of the drug experience, Kirk was deeply affected by the music. He surrendered himself to it and felt overcome with awe. When the music was sad, he would think of his mother, who had been ill for many years before her death. I used to go to the hospital and see her, and a lot of the time shed be asleep, so I wouldnt wake her up; Id just sit on the bed. And shed be aware I was there and wake up. It was a very loving feeling. Quite intensely I went through that moment. I think that was quite good in a way. I think it helped to let go.

During the therapy sessions, there were moments of anxiety as the drugs effects started to take hold, when Kirk felt cold and became preoccupied with his breathing. But he was reassured by the therapists, and the discomfort passed. He saw bright colours, like being at the funfair, and felt vibrations permeate his body. At one point, he saw the Hindu elephant god Ganesh look in at him, as if checking on a child.

Although the experience had been affecting, he noticed little improvement in his mood in the first ten days afterwards. Then, while out shopping with friends on a Sunday morning, he felt an upheaval. I feel like theres space around me. It felt like when my mum was still alive, when I first met my partner, and everything was kind of OK, and it was so noticeable because I hadnt had it in a while.

There have been ups and downs since, but overall, he feels much more optimistic. I havent got that negativity any more. Im being more social; Im doing stuff. That kind of heaviness, that suppressed feeling has gone, which is amazing, really. Its lifted a heavy cloak off me.

Another participant, Michael, had been battling depression for 30 years, and tried almost every treatment available. Before taking part in the trial, he had practically given up hope. Since the day of his first dose of psilocybin, he has felt completely different. I couldnt believe how much it had changed so quickly, he says.

My approach to life, my attitude, my way of looking at the world, just everything, within a day.

One of the most valuable parts of the experience helped him to overcome a deep-rooted fear of death. I felt like I was being shown what happens after that, like an afterlife, he says. Im not a religious person and Id be hard pushed to say I was anything near spiritual either, but I felt like Id experienced some of that, and experienced the feeling of an afterlife, like a preview almost, and I felt totally calm, totally relaxed, totally at peace. So that when that time comes for me, I will have no fear of it at all.

During her training with Samuel Widmer, Friederike also worked in an addiction clinic. The insights from her drug experiences gave her new empathy. All of a sudden I could understand my clients in the clinic with their alcohol addiction, she says. They were coping differently than I did. They had almost the same problems or symptoms I had, only I hadnt started drinking. But only a few of them were able to open up about how those experiences made them feel. She wondered: could an MDMA experience help them release those emotions?

MDMA is a tamer relative of the classic psychedelics psilocybin, LSD, mescaline, DMT. They have effects that can be disturbing, like sensory distortions, the dissolution of ones sense of self, and the vivid reliving of frightening memories. MDMAs effects are shorter-lasting, making it easier to handle in a psychotherapy session.

Friederike opened her own private psychedelic therapy practice in Zurich in 1997. During the next few years, she began hosting weekend group therapy sessions with psychedelics in her home, inviting clients who had failed to make progress in conventional talking therapy.

Since the 1950s, psychiatrists have recognised the importance of context in determining what sort of experience the LSD taker would have. They have emphasised the importance of set the users mindset, their beliefs, expectations, and experience and setting the physical milieu where the drug is taken, the sounds and features of the environment and the other people present.

A supportive setting and an experienced therapist can lower the risk of a bad trip, but frightening experiences still happen. According to Friederike, they are part of the therapeutic experience. If a client is able to go through or lets himself be led through and work through, the bad trip turns into the most important step on the way to himself, she says. But without a correct setting, without a therapist who knows what hes doing and without the commitment of the client, we end up in a bad trip.

Her clients would come to her house on a Friday evening, talk about their recent issues and discuss what they wanted to achieve in the drug session. On Saturday morning, they would sit in a circle on mats, make the promise of secrecy, and each take a personal dose of MDMA agreed with Friederike in advance. Friederike would start with silence, then play music, and speak to the clients individually or as a group to work through their issues. Sometimes she would ask other members of the group to assume the role of a clients family members, and have them discuss problems in their relationship. In the afternoon they would do the same with LSD, which would often let the participants feel as though they were reliving traumatic memories. Friederike would guide them through the experience, and help them understand it in a new way. On Sunday, they would discuss the experiences of the previous day and how to integrate them into their lives.

Friederikes practice, however, was illegal. Therapeutic licences to use the drugs had been withdrawn by the Swiss government around 1993, following the death of a patient in France under the effect of ibogaine, another psychotropic drug. (It was later determined that she died from an undiagnosed heart condition.)

The early LSD researchers had no way to look at what it was doing inside the brain. Now we have brain scans. Robin Carhart-Harris has carried out such studies with psilocybin, LSD and MDMA. He tells me there are two basic principles of how the classic psychedelics work. The first is disintegration: the parts that make up different networks in the brain become less cohesive. The second is desegregation: the systems that specialise for particular functions as the brain develops become, in his words, less different from each other.

These effects go some way to explaining how psychedelics could be therapeutically useful. Certain disorders, such as depression and addiction, are associated with characteristic patterns of brain activity that are difficult to break out of. The brain kind of enters these patterns, pathological patterns, and the patterns can become entrenched. The brain easily gravitates into these patterns and gets stuck in them. They are like whirlpools, and the mind gets sucked into these whirlpools and gets stuck.

Psychedelics dissolve patterns and organisation, introducing a kind of chaos, says Carhart-Harris. On the one hand, chaos can be seen as a bad thing, linked with things like psychosis, a kind of storm in the mind, as he puts it. But you could also view that chaos as having therapeutic value. The storm could come and wash away some of the pathological patterns and entrenched patterns that have formed and underlie the disorder. Psychedelics seem to have the potential through this effect on the brain to dissolve or disintegrate pathologically entrenched patterns of brain activity.

The therapeutic potential suggested by Carhart-Harriss brain scan studies persuaded the UKs Medical Research Council to fund the psilocybin trial for depression. Its too early to evaluate its success, but the results so far have been encouraging. Some patients are in remission now months after having had their treatment, Carhart-Harris says. Previously their depressions were very severe, so I think those cases can be considered transformations. Im not sure if there are any other treatments out there that really have that potential to transform a patients situation after just two treatment sessions.

In the wake of MDMAs prohibition, American psychologist Rick Doblin founded the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) to support research aiming to re-establish psychedelics place in medicine. When Swiss psychiatrist Peter Oehen heard they were funding a study on using MDMA to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), he jumped on a plane to meet Doblin in Boston.

Like Friederike, Oehen trained in psychedelic therapy while it was legal in Switzerland in the early 1990s. Doblin agreed to support a small study with 12 patients at Oehens private practice in Biberist, a small town about half an hour by train from the Swiss capital, Bern.

Oehen thinks that MDMAs mood-elevating, fear-reducing and pro-social effects make it a promising tool to facilitate psychotherapy for PTSD. Many of these traumatised people have been traumatised by some kind of interpersonal violence and have lost their ability to connect, are distrustful, are aloof, says Oehen. This helps them regain trust. It helps build a sound and trustful therapeutic relationship. It also puts the patient in a state of mind where they can face their traumatic memories without becoming distressed, he says, helping to start reprocess the trauma in a different way.

When MAPSs first PTSD study in the USA was published in 2011, the results were eye-opening. After two psychotherapy sessions with MDMA, 10 out of 12 participants no longer met the criteria for PTSD. The benefits were still apparent when the patients were followed up three to four years after the therapy.

Oehens results were less dramatic, but all of the patients who had MDMA-assisted therapy felt some improvement. Im still in touch with almost half of the people, he says. I can see still people getting better after years going on in the process and resolving their problems. We saw this at long-term follow-up, that symptoms get better after time, because the experiences enable them to get better in a different way to normal psychotherapy. These effects being more open, being more calm, more willing to face difficult issues this goes on.

In people with PTSD, the amygdala, a primitive part of the brain that orchestrates fear responses, is overactive. The prefrontal cortex, a more sophisticated part of the brain that allows rational thoughts to override fear, is underactive. Brain-imaging studies with healthy volunteers have shown that MDMA has the opposite effects boosting the prefrontal cortex response and shrinking the amygdala response.

Ben Sessa, a psychiatrist working around Bristol in the UK, is preparing to carry out a study at Cardiff University testing whether people with PTSD respond to MDMA in the same way. He believes that early negative experiences lie at the root not just of PTSD but of many other psychiatric disorders too, and that psychedelics give patients the ability to reprocess those memories.

Ive been doing psychiatry for almost 20 years now and every single one of my patients has a history of trauma, he says. Maltreatment of children is the cause of mental illness, in my opinion. Once a persons personality has been formed in childhood and adolescence and into early adulthood, its very difficult to encourage a patient to think otherwise. What psychedelics do, more than any other treatment, he says, is offer an opportunity to press the reset button and give the patient a new experience of a personal narrative.

Sessa is planning a separate study to test MDMA as a treatment for alcohol dependency syndrome picking up the trail of Humphrey Osmonds LSD research 60 years ago.

He believes psychiatry would look very different today if research with psychedelics had proceeded unencumbered since the 1950s. Psychiatrists have since turned to antidepressants, mood stabilisers and antipsychotics. These drugs, he says, help to manage a patients condition, but arent curative, and also carry dangerous side-effects.

Weve become so used to psychiatry being a palliative care field of medicine, Sessa says. That were with you for life. You come to us in your early 20s with severe anxiety disorder; Ill still be looking after you in your 70s.

Weve become used to that. And I think were selling our patients short.

Will psychedelic drugs ever be ruled legal medicines again? MAPS are supporting trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD in the USA, Australia, Canada and Israel, and they hope they will have enough evidence to convince regulators to approve it by 2021. Meanwhile, trials using psilocybin to treat anxiety in people with cancer have been taking place at Johns Hopkins University and New York University since 2007.

Few psychiatrists I asked about the legal use of psychedelics in therapy would give their opinions. One of the few who did, Falk Kiefer, Medical Director at the Department of Addictive Behaviour and Addiction Medicine at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany, says he is sceptical about the drugs ability to change patients behaviour. Psychedelic treatment might result in gaining new insights, seeing the world in a different way. Thats fine, but if it does not result in learning new strategies to deal with your real world, the clinical outcome will be limited.

Carhart-Harris says the only way to change peoples minds is for the science to be so good that funders and regulators cant ignore it. The idea is that we can present data that really becomes irrefutable, so that those authorities that have reservations, we can start changing their perspective and bring them around to taking this seriously.

After 13 days under arrest, Friederike was released. She appeared in court in July 2010, accused of violating the narcotics law and endangering her clients, the latter of which could mean up to 20 years imprisonment. A number of neuroscientists and psychotherapists testified in her defence, arguing that one portion of LSD is not a dangerous substance and has no significant harmful effects when taken in a controlled setting (MDMA was not included in the prosecutions case).

The judge accepted that Friederike had given her clients drugs as part of a therapeutic framework, with careful consideration for their health and welfare, and ruled her guilty of handing out LSD but not guilty of endangering people. For the narcotics offence, she was fined 2,000 Swiss francs and given a 16-month suspended sentence with two years probation.

I have been blessed by a very understanding lawyer and an intelligent judge, she says. She even considers the woman who reported her to the police a blessing, since the case has allowed her to talk openly about her work with psychedelics. She gives occasional lectures at psychedelic conferences, and has written a book about her experience, which she hopes will guide other therapists in how to work with the substances safely.

See more here:

LSD as therapy: How scientists are reclaiming psychedelics …

Psychedelic drugs saved my life. So why aren’t they prescribed? – Wired.co.uk

Mike McQuade

The world is in the throes of a mental-health crisis, as depression and dementia afflict spiralling numbers of people.

In March 2017, the World Health Organization declared that depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. More than 300 million people are living with it, an increase of more than 18 per cent between 2005 and 2015. But help is at hand – if we can reach out and grasp it.

A group of drugs long considered taboo is poised to transform the way we treat mental health. Recent research suggests that psychedelics – once regarded as a relic of the hippy-dippy 60s – could prove powerful tools not only to treat, but also potentially cure, many mental health problems regarded as chronic.

Psychedelics do something that our current go-to psychiatric drugs cannot: transform hardwired neural patterns to reroute the very architecture of the brain, sometimes in a single dose. Roland Griffiths, a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, has likened psychedelics’ ability to bring about neural rerouting as akin to a “surgical intervention”.

Take psilocybin, better known as magic mushrooms. A single dose of the drug can do “in 30 seconds what it takes antidepressants three to four weeks to do”, according to David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London.

A study published in the Journal of Psycho-pharmacology on people with anxiety associated with life-threatening illness suggested that LSD-assisted psychotherapy was successful in almost 70 per cent of subjects, with the positive effects lasting more than a year and causing no lasting adverse reactions.

Given the overwhelmingly positive results of these and other trials, one would think the clinical use of psychedelics would represent a sea change in our approach to mental-health treatment. But, sadly, outdated societal prejudice against psychedelics is proving a formidable handicap, hampering research and keeping many in need from reaping the benefits.

Strict anti-drug legislation that still criminalises the use of such substances has pushed psychedelic-assisted treatments underground: unless you are among the lucky few accepted into a clinical trial, your only options are to find an unlicensed practitioner, attempt to do it yourself illegally or travel to places where the compounds are legal.

Growing numbers of people are doing just that, and in recent months, there has been flurry of articles on the topic which have stoked curiosity about the potential of psychedelics. In April of this year, the Psychedelic Science Conference in California was attended by more than 3,000 people who travelled from across the globe to learn about recent advances. Although it’s heartening that more people are finding relief, ad hoc experimentation is not the way to go. We must bring this research into the mainstream, guarantee adequate funding and shield well-intentioned facilitators from criminal prosecution.

I should know. I was once the victim of a violent robbery, which left me shattered. Out of desperation I turned to psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. It helped saved my life.

Mental-health practices around the world are in desperate need of an overhaul, and psychedelics could be just the hack we need to achieve such fundamental – and indispensable – change. I believe mental health to be a human right, and as such it is nothing short of our duty to follow, and fund, the science.

See original here:

Psychedelic drugs saved my life. So why aren’t they prescribed? – Wired.co.uk

THE FUTURE OF PSYCHEDELICS: Are LSD and Mushrooms The New Prozac? – Dope Magazine

Magic mushrooms cant cure cancer, but they can alleviate the anxiety and existential dread that come along with the disease.

At least, thats the apparent conclusion from a pair of studies published in late 2016, wherein participants who had been diagnosed with both cancer and clinical depression or anxiety were administered psilocybin mushrooms within a controlled, living room-esque environment.

The psychological effects of psilocybin were not only positive, but enduring. Most participants ranked the experience among the most meaningful of their lives, and six months after taking the dose, 65 percent had almost fully recovered from their depression, and 57 percent from their anxiety. In contrast, antidepressants have been observed to help only 40 percent of terminal cancer patients in past studiesmaking them about as effective as a placebo.

However, as with other psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin remains a Schedule I drug, deemed by the federal government to have a high potential for abuse and no medical value whatsoever. Yet that hasnt stopped researchers from administering more than 2,000 doses of the much-touted magic mushrooms in clinical settings since the early 90s, during which time no participants have reported any lasting medical or psychiatric issues.

Instead, most studies seem to confirm what recreational users have suspected for some time nowthat psychedelic drugs can help us, at least if taken under the right circumstances, and with this new wave of advanced psychedelic research, were beginning to understand why.

Both mushrooms and LSD, or acid, can reliably inspire religious or otherwise transcendental experiences in users, often resulting in a detachment from worldly concerns and a loss of self-identity called ego death. Another 2016 study suggests LSD accomplishes this by increasing global connectivity in the brain, thus removing perceived boundaries between ones inner and outer world.

Additional studies provide evidence for the drugs effectiveness in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder, alcoholism and other addictions, though the effects dont typically last more than six months after dosing. Perhaps more impressive are the findings that psilocybin can actually alter peoples personalitiesusually thought to be set in stone during adulthoodby making them more open, a trait associated with broad-mindedness and creativity.

Theres a sacredness or a reverence to [the] experience, noted Roland Griffiths, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who authored one of the studies. Although the effects of the drugs are gone by the end of the day, the memories of these experiences and the attributions made to them endure.

Indeed, the lasting effects of psilocybin and LSD, as observed in Griffiths study and others, can help anyone, not just those struggling with cancer or clinical depression. Neither drug has much potential for addiction, and the only significant associated risks are from accidents or anxiety attacks, which can be particularly damaging for users with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Researchers screened participants for such risk factors and provided a safe, encouraging environment for their trips.

Thanks to an increased understanding of these controversial hallucinogens and a groundswell movement of pro-psychedelic advocacy groups, it isnt farfetched to imagine a future where mental health patients can drop acid or mushrooms outside of a research setting, perhaps under the supervision of a doctor or other trained professional.

It will no doubt take time for government policy to catch up with these illuminating findings, meaning legal psychedelics will still take yearsor even decadesto hit shelves. But if the research keeps progressing, how long can we ignore the science? Under this administration, that may remain to be seen.

comments

Excerpt from:

THE FUTURE OF PSYCHEDELICS: Are LSD and Mushrooms The New Prozac? – Dope Magazine

Expanding consciousness – 48 Hills

At some point, humankind will look back and figure out what to make of our heavy usage of psychedelics at music festivals. Despite the fact that mega-events provide probably the worst atmosphere for astral introspection, many peoples first mushroom or acid trips still happen at mobbed festivals or maybe the hardest trip theyll ever trip will take place at one. Hello, 21-year-old me at Reggae on the River. (I am not ashamed.)

The ritual of ingestion is often articulated in traditional cultures by a shaman or a guide well-read in the ways of certain substances. But in contrast with ayahuasca ceremonies, at Coachella or Burning Man psychedelic use is presided over by musicians on a stage set thousands of people away or by a friend who is just as dehydrated and medicated as you are or no one, when a overpowering wave of crowd splinters a crew.

Lacking a safe container to trip in, psychedelic complications are bound to happen in the haphazard setting of festival madness. Psychedelic users who become violent or otherwise unresponsive to official suggestion via a difficult trip can wind up at the hospital or worse, jail. Neither place is likely to alleviate the paranoia or fear theyre experiencing.

Drug research and education organization MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association For Psychedelic Studies) stepped into this disconnect when it raised the first incarnation of its Zendo Project at Burning Man in 2012. The on-site counseling program complimented MAPS larger mission to advocate for the therapeutic uses of psychedelics. The groups work often focuses on the way that drugs can be used to open up healing emotional pathways, such as a 2016 study that looked at the effects of MDMA on people suffering from PTSD.

The term psychedelic means mind manifesting, which means that our conscious mind becomes aware of subconscious things, says Sara Gael, MAPS director of harm reduction and Zendo Project organizer who has been involved since the year the program came to life and is a firm believer in the benefits associated with responsible usage of the drugs. Thats what therapy is about, exploring the subconscious and the aspects of self that society has taught us to repress.

In the uncertainty of festival chaos, worries about personal sanity or safety can complicate a psychedelic trip, rendering it all but impossible to stay open to the painful realizations that psychedelics can trigger. The Zendos infrastructure responds to this construct; volunteers erect a tent where triggered festival attendees can rehydrate, lie down, and/or snack, in addition to connecting with trained souls ready to sit with them through any threatening visions or panic-inducing paranoias.

Some of the more challenging cases we experience are people who are really frightened, who might then become aggressive, or try to run away, or feel really lost or paranoid, says Gael. Those are some of the more difficult situations to work with because were trying to keep that person physically safe. Thats why we work in collaboration with medical and security.

Today, the Zendo Project has helped 2,900 people at large events, teaming up with security and medical festival staff so that attendees receive the best treatment for their particular situation. Given the projects success, it is pleasant to imagine a larger diversity of gatherings in which Zendo-like harm reduction efforts were present. Currently, the program is limited to Burning Man and its regional events from South Africa to San Diego, in addition to the other transformational endeavors (Lightning in a Bottle, Costa Rican yoga and spirituality fest Envision.)

The Zendo Project is looking to expand, and is currently in the middle of a fundraising drive. And MAPS just publishedThe Manual of Psychedelic Support, a thick tome available for free download.

The manual outlines the logistics behind setting up a Zendo Project-like space, not to mention the inclusion of a fascinating history of harm reduction in modern Western festival culture (the original Woodstock festivals Hog Farmers, founded by Wavy Gravy, are considered pioneers in the area) and the Zendo Projects guiding principles for interactions with those on tough trips: creating a safe space, sitting not guiding, talking through and not down, and difficult is not the same as bad, in Gaels summarization.

Gael is quick to note that the core principles can even be self-applied, if you can remember them should you enter into a difficult trip yourself. When asked for a couple quick pointers for those finding themselves on shaky psychedelic ground, she ventured: What is coming up, try to turn into it rather than away from it, because what we resist, persists. Try to find a safe space away from noise with people that you trust. Find someone who is able to sit with you even if theyre not formally trained, who is not freaking out. Trying to connect with your breath and body, connecting with nature can be really helpful, finding a tree.

She adds that if youre still feeling shaken up even after youve become sober, MAPS has published a list of therapists who are educated in psychedelic integration, or the practice of connecting the dots between psychedelias half-processed self realizations.

It is clear that modern day Western society takes psychedelics under much different circumstances than the cultures that previously utilized the substances. The ritual of loading ones car up with friends and alcohol en route to Electric Daisy Carnival has little in common with the temazcals and sacrament of a Navajo peyote ceremony.

MAPS makes it clear that as part of a harm reduction strategy, the Zendo Project simply responds to the reality that this is the current situation, says Gael. And that despite policy, [psychedelic usage] is going to continue. After nearly 50 years of practice, however, new forms of psychedelic guidance in certain modern day sites of cultural ritual are being developed a nascent safety net for the psychedelic voyagers of today.

More:

Expanding consciousness – 48 Hills

For children, it’s beyond psychedelics – The Hans India – The Hans India

Academic compulsion and peer-pressure adding to the woes

Psychedelic drugs are not the only cause of concern, high school students and youngsters are addicted to things like cough syrups, glue and whiteners. Recently the governments focus has only been on drug peddlers and celebrities but, the real focus should begin at home and schools.

I have patients as young as seven-years-old, who are addicted to medications like cough syrup or stationary items. This is due to the complete lack of parental guidance, opines Dr Namita Singh, neuropsychologist at Apollo Hospitals.

Further, she said that if the child is prescribed a medication for a time, h/she continues to use the medicine even after that. Excessive use of such medications can lead to failure of vital organs, like the liver, she warns.

The schooling system is also to be blamed, she argues. Because of the hectic curriculum children are constantly under pressure and they opt for immediate relief from it.

I even tried to contact some schools to conduct an awareness session for high school students about sexual education and usage of drugs but, they didnt seem interested in this.

Educational institutions are only concerned about their syllabus but, they are hugely lacking in extracurricular activities like sports, dancing or anything creative for that matter, she adds.

Speaking about the psychological conditions of students she shares, A 13-year-old kid was recently brought to me by his mother because of his erratic behaviour and loss of appetite. His mother complained that he was always irritated and physically aggressive with his brother.

High pressure from schools drives children crazy. This is no way to live a life; at least parents should understand and allow their children to participate in other creative activities, she opines.

She also says that many parents are still unaware about their childrens addictions and weaknesses, and even if they do know about it, they are unwilling to bring their kid to a psychologist.

If education doesnt begin at home then these psychological conditions will haunt the individual in their adulthood as well. Many software employees are also facing these behavioural issues at an early age.

To get away from their day-to-day deadlines and work pressures they divulge into alcohol, smoking and drugs, opines the doctor.

By: Tera Sneha Reddy

Read more from the original source:

For children, it’s beyond psychedelics – The Hans India – The Hans India

What Has Awe Done for Me Lately? – HuffPost

What is the value of awe and mystic experience? For starters, it reduces the me that wants things done for it, or at least offers temporary relief from this grasping me. Mystic experience, whatever links it occasions, offers a kind of holiday from ordinary reality. In this expansive space, the world can be felt as less self-centered, and more inter-connected. In many spiritual traditions, this shift is called awakening, or at least the start of it. Awakening is not an entertainment (lets get high) but a jewel (lets get real).

We have Aldous Huxley to thank for one of the first post-war accounts of a day transformed by a psychedelic (it was mescaline). Borrowing from William Blake, he called his book The Doors of Perception (1954). What he described was things seen in a state of awe. Many other great writers have explored the phenomenon of mystical experience occasioned by what a friend of mine calls mindful molecules, and some of their work will be listed near the end of this piece, reports subsequent to Huxleys.

These writers were interested in classic psychedelics not to alleviate or cure a health condition or reduce anxiety, much less to create a colorful internal light show, but rather to induce a state of awe Why?

They all refer to the ability of classis psychedelics to occasion mystical experience (or in a cautious phrase in a report about psilocybin, mystical-type experience). Professor Ralph Hood had not yet developed his mysticism scale in time for Wassons 1954 account of a psilocybin mushroom ceremony near Oaxaca, but the first word about the experience in Wassons account was, awestruck.

One interpretation of an experience of awe could be to reinforce a religious allegiance, whether, for example, Buddhist. Christian, Hindu, or Islamic. In each off these traditions, an allegiance has been strengthened by a mystic experience with or without the use of a mindful molecule. In this article, however, rather than get involved in theology, I want to stay with the experience occasioned by a classic psychedelic, prior to any interpretation of it.

We can all agree that the experience is radically different than ordinary reality, causing a habitual tendency to call it sacred and to assume it descends upon us from, or connects us with, another realm. However, Occams Razor suggests that were making a giant assumption if we assert that something very different from ordinary reality is necessarily transcendental. It might be, but it might equally represent access to a function of the human brain that is ordinarily absent or hidden.

As a rhetorical strategy, the claim of access to a realm in the bailiwick of spiritual leaders has some advantages. In the U.S. our idea of religious freedom might extend to the use of classic psychedelics. So far, this argument has succeeded only in the case of the Native American Church, which legally uses peyote in its ceremonies for hundreds of thousands of worshippers from one race,, and of a couple of offshoots of syncretic Brazilian churches (offshoots both located in the U.S. West).

Our courts seem to respect antiquity of practice. The native Americans have been doing their peyote ritual for a long time, and the Brazilian churches are linked to ancient shamanic practices involving ayahuasca in the Amazon basin. According to The Road to Eleusis, many of the ideas of Western civilization arose from people initiated through an annual ceremony that appears to have featured a group envisioning induced by a psychedelic agent in the kykeon and that continued for as long as two thousand years. A pause since the fourth century does not alter the antiquity of the practice.

According to the Road to Eleusis, the mysteries could be resumed now and offer benefits to our culture, as they did to the culture of ancient Greece and to initiates from the Roman empire. In a word, they could become again a part of normal life.

Now for the bibliographic note:

Appreciation for awe has appeared in a string of writings after Huxley on spiritual uses of psychedelics. Examples include:

At the time of the writings cited, Wasson was a New York banker and a mycologist; Watts, a British clergyman transposed to California; Smith, a philosopher of religion and former professor at various universities including MIT; Forte, a teacher and an editor; Hofmann, a chemist at Sandoz in Basel and the discoverer of LSD; Ruck, a classicist at Boston University;; Doblin, the founder of MAPS; Badiner, a student of Buddhism and an editor; Griffiths, a professor at Johns Hopkins.

The Morning Email

Wake up to the day’s most important news.

Read this article:

What Has Awe Done for Me Lately? – HuffPost

Scientists Want You to Give Them Money to Study …

No three strung-together letters in the English language are more loaded than L-S-D. Say them out loud to elicit images of strung out hippies waving their hands around and making things out of flowers, or of an innocent youths mind snapping under the weight of acid. Or just really bad art.

Psychedelics have a brand problem, but early studies suggest drugs like LSD and MDMA could treat disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder. Operative word being could . Bad branding means bad funding, so while those preliminary studies are promising, theyre also relatively rare.

Which is why today an organization called Fundamental is launching a crowdfunding campaign to finance an ambitious series of studiesdesigned under the watchful eye of the FDA, mind youinto how psychedelics might treat a range of psychological disorders. So should you be inclined, you can kick in cash to fund what is shaping up to be a bold and bizarre new frontier in medical research.

Fundamental came from the brain of Rodrigo Nio, a real estate developer in New York who in 2011 was diagnosed with melanoma. Following two surgeries, Niounderstandably terrified of deathtraveled to the Peruvian jungle to try ayahuasca, a powerful psychedelic famed both for its violent upheaval of the human digestive system and its tendency to take users on intense spiritual journeys. (Not exactly the most data-driven beginning to a psychedelic science campaign, but there it is.)

Right after my first sessionmy ceremony, they call itI was completely off my fear of dying, Nio says. Completely gone, you know. And then I had to know if what had happened to me was placebo effect caused by the hallucinations, or if in fact I had been physiologically cured.

Jakob Schiller

How Ecstasy, Aspirin, and LSD Look Under the Microscope

Jesse Jarnow

How an Army of Deadheads (And Their LSD) Invented Silicon Valley

Margaret Rhodes

Inside the LSD Museum That the DEA Somehow Hasnt Torn to the Ground

Problem is, you cant just call up the federal government and ask for some money, pretty please, to test a schedule 1 drug on people. And good luck getting pharmaceutical companies interested in natural drugs they cant slap a patent on. The issue is that [psychedelics] don’t make money, and because they don’t make money traditional capital sources have no interest in them, says Nio. And so Nio founded Fundamental to take psychedelics research to the people.

It works like this: Anyone can donate money through the fund-raising website CrowdRise, specifying what kind of psychedelics research they want to fund. This money lands in a fund operated by a grantmaking organization called Charities Aid Foundation America that then vets which researchers it doles out the money to. Nio’s aiming for $2 million initially, with the possibility of additional campaigns in the future.

One of the first beneficiaries of the fund will be Amanda Feilding, a legendary figure in the psychedelics movement and, as it happens, a full-blown countess with the most proper British accent you ever did hear. The UN made a terrible mistake, she says, when in 1961 it passed the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, essentially Just Say No to Drugs in treaty form. “What we’ve been trying to do for the last 20 years,” Feilding says, “is provide governments and the UN with the scientific evidence so that they can amend or withdraw the conventions prohibiting these substances or lower them from schedule 1 to schedule 3 or 4 so that doctors can prescribe them and research can be done.” To do that, though, she’s relied on donations from individuals or grants from other institutions.

The money she receives through crowdfunding will go toward studying LSD microdosing, which you’ve no doubt heard of by now , with (deep breath) neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt at Imperial College London. In it, they’ll have subjects complete certain tasks while in an fMRI to image their brains. Everyone from Silicon Valley techies to creative-industry types love the idea that in low doses the drug could heighten alertness and creativity without the pesky hallucinations. Science will sort that out, but in a study published last year, Feilding and partners gave the world the first look at how LSD affects the brain (itself financed in part with crowdfunding). Meaning researchers are taking the first steps toward understanding how LSD and other psychedelics impact the mind.

Another beneficiary of the crowdfunded cash will be Rick Doblin, executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies . Over the last three decades, MAPS has raised some $40 million for research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. But it’s not enoughphase three of Doblin’s study into using MDMA to treat PTSD will set the group back $25 million ($10 million of which they’ve pulled in from two overachieving donors). And they’re not expecting much help from the governmentthough they did once get a $2.1 million grant from the state of Colorado to study PTSD with marijuana.

This isn’t MAPS’s first tango with crowdfunding, either. It has used Indiegogo to fund a psychedelic harm reduction program at Burning Man, and again for a study that tested MDMA on traumatized veterans. But those campaigns were asking for total commitments of tens of thousands of dollars, not millions.

With its cut of this new, larger round of crowdfunding, MAPS plans to bring sufferers into a clinic for three sessions of supervised dosing, after which the patient stays for the night. This is combined with 12 hour-and-a-half-long psychotherapy sessions. In a similar study published by the group in 2013, researchers found that doses of MDMA helped participants improve their PTSD symptoms long-term .

Contrary to what you might expect for a schedule 1 drug, the issues with MDMA research, Doblin says, arent regulation but funding and training therapists in a novel form of treatment. (To train for this, the FDA is allowing MAPS’s therapists to try MDMA themselves.) MDMA is widely available for research purposes, and indeed the stigma of psychedelics is fading. Whats really changed over the last 10 years has been the willingness of major researchers at major institutions to get involved, says Doblin. Psychedelics are no longer fringenone other than Johns Hopkins is in on the game now . So the real issues now are not regulatory.

Money. They need money, because drugs are expensive and rigorous scientific studies are complicated, no matter what plane of reality you occupy.

See the original post here:

Scientists Want You to Give Them Money to Study …

New book about psychedelics and weird human experiences – Boing Boing

David Luke, a University of Greenwich psychology lecturer and researcher of high weirdness, has a new book out with the compelling title of Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience. Based on the blurb, it sounds like an absolute trip:

A psychonautic scientific trip to the weirdest outposts of the psychedelic terrain, inhaling anything and everything relevant from psychology, psychiatry, parapsychology, anthropology, neuroscience, ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, biochemistry, religious studies, cultural history, shamanism and the occult along the way.

Staring the strange straight in the third eye this eclectic collection of otherworldly entheogenic research delivers a comprehensive and yet ragtaglledy scientific exploration of synaesthesia, extra-dimensional percepts, inter-species communication, eco-consciousness, mediumship, possession, entity encounters, near-death and out-of-body experiences, psi, alien abduction experiences and lycanthropy. Essentially, its everything you ever wanted to know about weird psychedelic experiences, but were too afraid to ask

“Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience” (via Daily Grail)

Im making the final(ish*) stop of my Walkaway tour at Defcon this weekend in Las Vegas, giving a speech on Saturday in Track 2 at 10AM called $BIGNUM steps forward, $TRUMPNUM steps back: how can we tell if were winning?, followed by a book-signing at the No Starch Press table in the exhibitors hall.

In Paper Girls, the celebrated comics creator Brian K Vaughan (Saga, Y: The Last Man, etc) teams up with Cliff Chiang to tell a story thats like an all-girl Stranger Things, with time-travel.

To call Shopsins a Greenwich Village institution was to understate something profound and important and weird and funny: Shopsins (first a grocery store, later a restaurant) was a kind of secret reservoir of the odd and wonderful and informal world that New York City once represented, in the pre-Trumpian days of Sesame Street and Times Square sleaze: Tamara Shopsin grew up in Shopsins, and Arbitrary Stupid Goal is her new, no-muss memoir, is at once charming and sorrowing, a magnificent time-capsule containing the soul of a drowned city.

Between election hacks, ransomware, and Devils Ivy, the cybersecurity space is booming as malware and hackers become more sophisticated. If youre interested in pursuing a career in ethical hacking, or just want to secure your own devices,The Super-Sized Ethical Hacking Bundleis a great resource.In this bundle, youll learn the fundamental skills of ethical hacking, prepare []

The TREBLAB X11 Earphones are versatile, offer great sound, and are currently $32.99 in the Boing Boing Store.These Bluetooth earbuds are a great workout companion. Theyre totally sweat proof and their ear-fins keep them snugly in place during high activity something that Apples AirPods can only do if you were blessed with precisely the []

Whether youre a seasoned entertainment industry veteran or a student working on your first spec script, having the right tool for the job will make a huge difference in your focus and productivity.Final Draft 10 is far and away the worlds best screenwriting software, used extensively by professional film and TV writers at top production []

Go here to see the original:

New book about psychedelics and weird human experiences – Boing Boing

Psychedelics and Normality – HuffPost

The official U.S. response to classic psychedelics has been primarily a defense of existing normality. The response was aroused, for example, by the drop out kicker in Tim Learys famous motto (turn on, tune in, drop out). It was shaped by perceived links to social disarray caused by claims of equality from blacks, women, people dismissed as shiftless, and foreigners who resented intervention (such as in Vietnam).

My own introduction to the drug issue came from a college student when I was a teaching assistant at Stanford in a course on personality theory. It was back in the late 1960s. I was told this pill is really great, this student reported being assured at a frat party. Swallow it and get ready for a really good time. He didn’t even ask what the pill was said to be, much less seek data on what it actually contained. He just swallowed. LSD was soon made illegal. (As we will see below, this was far from an ideal set and setting.)

When U.S. research on psychedelics was allowed to resume, decades later, it was largely for projects that explored medicinal uses, which aim to restore a person toyou guessed itnormality. Has most of society been afraid not only of party drugs, but also of the experience of awe? Awe is regarded as okay for the occasional mystic, who may even be elevated to sainthood (for example, Francis of Assisi, after whom the current Pope chose to be named), but it arouses suspicion when people talk to birds. Thats weird.

Nobody wants vast criminal syndicates, users do not want the risk of impure drugs (with dangerous molecules sometimes being sold as Ecstasy), nobody wants their children thrown in prison for smoking pot while good burghers drive their cars to a bar to get plastered, nobody wants to pay higher taxes to keep non-violent young people locked up, and researchers do not want prohibitions on research about amazing substances, even if they were not widely used. But anything in defense of normality.

The big question is whether were ever going to find a way to integrate awe into lives that are otherwise normal, to tolerate a regime under which people can, if they want, suspend ordinary reality in a safe and beneficial way. At least since 1954, when Aldous Huxleys Doors of Perception gave us that brilliant writers account of his trip on a classic psychedelic, explorers have tried to bridge the gap between their direct experience and the views of the majority who werent burdened by personal encounters with awe but who, with the help of the media, knew what they believed.

Huxleys spirit was put in a religious context by Huston Smith, who spoke of cleansing those Blakeian doors.

More recently, people who feel that a therapeutic trip has been one of the most important experiences of their lifetime or have found mega benefits in micro-dosing have adopted various rhetorical strategies to try to communicate their discovery. Im reminded of this attempt, which has now continued for a half century or so, by two recent books, The Psychedelic Renaissance (2012) by Ben Sessa, and A Really Good Day (2017) by Ayelet Waldman.

An English physician and researcher, Sessa adopts the strategy of identifying with his profession and searching for ways that classic psychedelics (and MDMA) can help psychiatrists reduce unnecessary suffering. At the same time, he wonders aloud why, after scorning hippies, he has adopted many of their values and insights. Then he returns to the sobriety of his status in society, his caseload, and research based on double-blind evidence.

Waldman adopts a different strategy. Professionally, she is a writer. She is also a mother of four. She suffers from depression and anxiety. She had heard that taking a tenth of a normal dose of LSD might help. She followed a protocol described by Jim Fadiman, who began researching psychedelics as a graduate student when LSD-25 was still legal. This accounts for Waldmans subtitle: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life.

Assured of a supply for a month of three-day cycles, Waldman supposedly wonders whether even a micro-dose will kill her or, if not, drive her crazy, with ghastly flashbacks. Despite having been a volunteer for the Drug Policy Alliance, which works against the war on drugs, and in spite of teaching a law school course in the area, Waldman says she started her personal experiment with fear-based stories widely held in our society, inculcated by the misinformation our government has propagated for decades. She then educates her readers with the quite different facts.

So these are the first two rhetorical strategies: identify with your audience (I thought so, too, but boy, was I mistaken) or identify with a valued profession (Im a doctor, I just want to find medicines that work).

One way to make drugs almost acceptable is to present them as potential medicines, under the control of a highly regarded corps of professionals. Can they treat PTSD, as in the studies of MDMA as an adjunct to therapy, studies conducted by the Mithoefers? Can they ease end-of-life fear, as in the project run by Charles Grob? Can they deal with addiction to alcohol and other legal drugs open to abuse?

Another strategy is to argue that, under the Constitution, liberty includes the right to alter, at least temporarily, ones own consciousness: you may not have the freedom to encourage or guide others, but an individual in our society does retain the power to decide what to put in his or her own body, especially if its been shown to be safer than substances sold and imbibed freely.

We have Jim Fadiman to thank not only for Ayelet Waldmans experiment but also for other effects of his own book, The Psychedelic Explorers Guide: Safe, Therapeutic and Sacred Journeys (2011). In contrast to my student reporting on unknown drugs handed around at a frat party, Fadiman describes how to do it right. Experienced people advise: (a) ingest a psychedelic only if you are mentally balanced, (b) get pure substances, (c) take a correct dose, (d) form a positive intention for the trip (and then be willing to let go of it), (e) find and stay in a welcoming non-clinical setting, (f) have an experienced and non-intrusive guide, (g) lie down or find a comfortable chair, (h) listen to music instead of operating machinery or communicating with people outside the room. Of course, prohibition makes it difficult to get pure substances, and current law would make any guide an accessory.

Another rhetorical strategy was inherent in the 1960s project on psychedelics and creativity led by Professor Willis Harman. This project gave a classic psychedelic to professionals who were working with resistant challenges in their fields. It discovered benefits before the project was cut off when the government decided to make LSD illegal. That was in 1968 (the same year Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot, Bobby Kennedy won the California primary and was then assassinated, and Richard Nixon nabbed the Presidency).

If creativity is not enough to win approval, how about a hypothesis about evolution of the species, that it was psilocybin that helped convert primates into archaic humans? Along with many other speculations in the course of his career, Terence McKenna explored this possibility around 1992. What was his motive? If we could import into straight society, almost as a Trojan horse, the idea that these psychedelic compounds and plants are the catalyst that called forth humanness out of animal nature, if we could entertain this as a possibility, he said, it would alter societys efforts to control and eradicate these substances.

In contrast to proposing bold but unprovable theories, recent researchers looked at neurological data, gathered in large part by methods not yet available when classic psychedelics became widespread in the U.S. For example, Robin Carhart-Harris at Imperial College in London used magnetic resonance imagining to map effects in the brain.

Data about spiritual experience was reported in research led by Professor Roland Griffiths at Johns Hopkins, as expressed in the classic paper, Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences The investigators focused not on an illness that was to be alleviated but rather on an enhancement of ordinary life.

To summarize the rhetorical strategies cited here:

There are other rhetorical strategies, but these are enough to illustrate the persistence and ingenuity of people who are still seeking, after a half century of prohibition, to bridge the gap between firm beliefs of the general public and data developed, against official resistance, by research both here and abroad.

When fear is aroused, as in the war on terror, good public policy is swept aside and we tend not to look at facts.

In the case of psychedelics, what will work? We are encouraged to be patient, as was Martin Luther King, Jr., by white colleagues at the time of the Montgomery demonstrations. In response, King asked whether the time since the Civil War was long enough to wait.

The prohibition against psychedelics has lasted about half a century. Critics of the fear-response decry the losses: the healing that has been lost, the abuse of liberty, the loss of research, of creativity, of experiences of awe.

One of the U.S. organizations that has worked persistently and ingeniously during most of this period of prohibition has been the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), founded by Rick Doblin, a graduate of Harvards Kennedy School. MAPS has held conferences on psychedelic science, sponsored research here and abroad, published a newsletter, and tried to educate the political establishment.

Other leading organizations include the Heffter Research Institute, which gathered key academics in this field, Amanda Feildings Beckley Foundation in the U.K., Bob Jesses Council for Spiritual Practices, the archives at Purdue University (Psychoactive Substances Research Collection), and the Vaults of Erowid.

On the model of cannabis, perhaps it would be helpful to establish medical uses, then move on to what is called recreational use, a term that refers to all uses not controlled solely by physicians but freely available to the public. The term recreational is prejudicial like the term drugs, which fails to distinguish between classic psychedelics and addictive or otherwise harmful drugs, such as heroin.

For example, there is nothing recreational about the experience of awe or of wonder. The term trivializes what can happen. Drugs are taken not only to get high or cure a health condition, but also to take a holiday from the confines of ordinary reality, as in studying a textbook, buying a house, raising children, serving as a professional, and so forth. What if, instead of an ill-conceived and unworkable prohibition, we focused our ingenuity on making the opportunity for good trips part of a normal life?

One pioneer who sketched this possibility was Gordon Wasson, a U.S. banker who made a famous trip to a tribal area of Mexico and experienced a psilocybin mushroom ceremony with a local shaman, and wrote about it in Life magazine (in1957, a few years after Huxleys book). What was his first reaction after the mushroom took effect? I felt awestruck.

Later he co-authored a book, The Road to Eleusis (1978), working with Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who synthesized and then, in 1943, discovered the mental effects of LSD, and with a professor of classics named Carl Ruck. They proposed that the ancient ceremony at Eleusis included a psychedelic. (No one knows for sure because the participants were sworn to secrecy.) The point is, the ritual was not counter-cultural but part of the culture, not for everybody, but not considered a challenge to the dominant way of life.

Perhaps our culture will accept the value of psychedelics through demonstrations of their usefulness in alleviating suffering, through medical applications. But it was observers such as Wasson who understood that their most extraordinary value was experiencing awe and that this opportunity could become part of a normal life.

See original here:

Psychedelics and Normality – HuffPost


12345...