Psychedelics Today

A show discussing the important academic and other research in the field of Psychedelics. We discuss how psychedelics relate to human potential and healing.
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Now displaying: March, 2019
Mar 27, 2019


In this special interview, Joe and Kyle sit down with Theologian, John B. Cobb Jr., referred to as the Godfather of American Theology. They recorded with John at the conference they all attended in California, on how exceptional experience can help save the world. They cover a range of topics inspired from Alfred Whitehead’s teachings and the promising applications of Whitehead’s thoughts in the area of ecological civilization and environmental ethics pioneered by John Cobb Jr.

3 Key Points:

  1. Process thinking argues that reality consists of processes rather than material objects, and that thinking this way is similar to the teachings of a psychedelic experience. It is hoped for and believed that exceptional experiences can help save the world.
  2. Whitehead's process philosophy argues that there is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have consequences for the world around us.
  3. Certain curriculum, education systems and Universities are not helping us to see the value of our world. A full systems change is needed and hopefully psychedelics, exceptional experiences and process thinking can help with that.

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Show Notes

Process Thought

  • Alfred North Whitehead
  • The senses heighten connection, but we shouldn't rely only senses for our experiences
  • The label that can we give to the 'most fundamental relationship' is any 'happening'
  • What's happening when we listen to music?
    • We aren't hearing one tone after another tone, we are hearing the music as a whole piece
  • Whitehead calls the fundamental relationship of inclusion, a 'prehension'
    • How one moment leads into another moment
    • If the world is made up of prehensions, then in any given moment, what is prehended?
    • The boundary between conscious and unconscious experience is fuzzy.
  • Whitehead calls the relatedness to the past, physical prehensions. But we also prehend, potentialities. It is being experienced as potential not as actual.
    • Whitehead thinks this is present in very elementary matters.
    • Whitehead says that waves of vibration are a very large part of the world we live in
  • Whitehead believes that without some type of variation from moment to moment, that nothing really happens
  • He wrote a lot on relativity and very little about quantum
  • David Bohm
    • He was very process oriented
    • He wanted to change our language into using words that mean something is ‘happening’ versus using nouns that say that something ‘is’
  • “If you only have potentiality and too little grounded in actuality, you better be careful. If you don't have the potentiality, then you live in a deterministic universe” - John

“Does Whitehead relate the potentialities to his ideas about intuition?”

  • Intuition can be of both pure potentials and about other people
  • A lot of paranormal experiences are not supernatural
  • Just because someone has seen something or done something, it doesn't mean that it's true. There is plenty of illusion.

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Complex Societies

  • An important feature of Whitehead is to distinguish complex society
  • Panexperientialism is ‘the view that if evolution of humans goes all the way down to subatomic particles, then human ‘experience’ by deduction must have originated at the subatomic level, which implies that not just humans but individual cells, individual molecules, individual atoms, and even individual subatomic particles, such as photons or electrons, incorporate a capacity for ‘feeling’ or degree of subjective inferiority.'
  • There might be in-deterministic qualities in individual entities
  • From a Whiteheadian point of view, contemporary physics would be almost universally valid if the entire world were made up entirely of physical feelings, feelings of actual occasions, ‘what is’.

“What would be opposed to physical feelings?”

  • Conceptual feelings, feelings of potentials
  • He thinks there are feelings of potential in every actual occasion
  • “The attempt to make standard physics apply to the quantum world are a total failure.” -John
  • “The attempt to make standard physics apply to the human experience is the task of the Neuroscientists. They think that the subjective experience has a causal role to play in the world.” -John
  • It's more committed to metaphysics than it is to empirical study

“Do you think what's going on in the mind, say neurotransmitters or electrical activity firing, that is creating this reality, or the experience, is having an influence on the neurochemistry?”

  • John says that the psyche plays a role
  • Scientists who are busy engineering genetic change, tell us purpose plays no role in genetic change

“What do you mean by no purpose in genetic change?”

  • Purpose cannot have a causal effect in the Cartesian world
    • They say ‘I know that my purposes are completely the result of mechanical relations between my neurons’

“Could you elaborate on the definition of actual occasions?”

  • The psyche is a consistent series of actual occasions
    • Its what kinds of things are in and of themselves, ‘actual’
  • It's in the distinction of things that can be divided up into other entities
    • An actual occasion cannot be divisible into other actual occasions
    • Like an atom, it is divisible, but dividing it does not keep it from actually existing
  • For Whitehead, an actual occasion is the basic unit of actuality
    • Its an alternative to a ‘substance’ way of viewing
    • When we look at other living beings, animals with brains and such, we assume they have a psychic life
    • John thinks that plants have some kind of unified experience
    • Some people have a feeling about a tree, that it's not just a bunch of cells interacting
    • “It's hard for me to think that a stone is an experiencing entity, I think the molecules though are.” - John
    • “I’m sure that cells are influenced by the emotions of people” -John
  • Having a particular conceptuality does not define how things are going to map out

“This world view seems very psychedelic.”

  • Among quantum physicists, Whitehead’s name is known and appreciated.
    • It may mean that physics as a whole might adopt an organic model than just mechanistic one
  • The common sense in this is that our knowledge of each other is not just in visual and auditory clues, but people have been told so long that it is

“What else would it be informed by if not by visual and auditory cues?”

  • Just by our immediate experience of each other
  • If you go into a room, there is an immediate climate there. You can tell when you walk into a room full of angry people.
  • Ivan Illich's Book on Deschooling Society (Open Forum S)

“What would be your vision of an education system if its not working right now?”

  • The one that Matthew Segal teaches in CIIS are examples of a different education system
  • The Great Books program needs revision. It's only been the great western books. John hopes they have incorporated great books from other parts of the world
  • There are parts of different educational systems that are better than what we have
    • “If I had an opportunity to create a school, it would be a school that teaches ecological civilization because a healthy human survival is a goal that ought not to be regarded as an eccentric and marginal one, but regarded as what all we human beings ought to be getting behind collectively, together. And if you have a school for that, the curriculum would be quite varied, but the production and consumption and sharing of food should be a very central part of it.” -John
    • Capitalism has ignored much of reality
    • John says creating a curriculum is not his role, his role is deconstruction because he thinks what is going on now is absurd
  • “Enlightenment is the worst curse of humanity, we have been enlightened into not believing all kinds of things. The disappearance of subject from the world of actuality. If that's enlightenment, then I don't want to be enlightened.” - John


Kyle Shares his Near Death Experience

  • Kyle got in a snowboarding accident, ruptured his spleen and lost about 5 pints of blood
    • It became mystical when he was in the MRI machine and he was standing on one side of the room with the doctors and in his body at the same time
    • There was an orb of light, and an external voice or ‘experience’ that said “you're going home, back to the stars where you came from, this is just a transition, the more you relax into it, the easier it will be.”
    • Kyle describes it as a blissful experience, but he had a hard time integrating it back into his life.
  • Whitehead has done a remarkable job to describe process, and exceptional experience and putting a language to it
    • Joe says that Whitehead’s work has helped put the psychedelic experience into words

“Do you recall the first time you heard something that made you interested in the impact of psychedelics?”

  • Lenny Gibson was probably one of the first people that opened his eyes to the positive uses
  • “Today, it would be remarkable if 10% of the world's population survived without civilization” -John
  • He is confident that there are good things that come from psychedelics
  • He says Whitehead has made him understand the changes that might make us behave in responsible ways, so he doesn't feel the necessity of having a psychedelic experiences

“What kind of changes?”

  • We have to change from our substance thinking to process thinking
  • We need to shift from thinking that every individual is self-contained, we are all products of our relationships with each other.
  • In the Whiteheadian view, any individual is, the many becoming one. To be an individual is being a part of everything.


Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition

Other books by John Cobb Jr.

A Christian Natural Theology, Second Edition: Based on the Thought of Alfred North Whitehead

Jesus' Abba: The God Who Has Not Failed

Grace & Responsibility: A Wesleyan Theology for Today

For Our Common Home: Process-Relational Responses to Laudato Si'

About John B. Cobb Jr.

John B. Cobb, Jr., Ph.D, is a founding co-director of the Center for Process Studies and Process & Faith. He has held many positions, such as Ingraham Professor of Theology at the School of Theology at Claremont, Avery Professor at the Claremont Graduate School, Fullbright Professor at the University of Mainz, Visiting Professor at Vanderbilt, Harvard Divinity, Chicago Divinity Schools. His writings include: Christ in a Pluralistic Age; God and the World; For the Common Good. Co-winner of Grawemeyer Award of Ideas Improving World Order.

Mar 19, 2019


In this episode, Joe gets on the mic to chat about some current events in the psychedelic space such as the recent passing of psychedelic icon Ralph Metzner, the Psilocybin decriminalization initiatives in Denver and now Oakland, and psychedelic use in the Military.

3 Key Points:

  1. Psychedelic Icon, Ralph Metzner passed away on March 14th, 2019. He had a remarkable career and published a ton of books around psychedelics in his time.
  2. A recent study found that a single dose of Psilocybin can enhance creative thinking and empathy for up to 7 days after use.
  3. Activists are planning an initiative to decriminalize Psilocybin in Oakland. Denver will vote on decriminalization on the May 7th ballot.

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Show Notes

Ralph Metzner

Psilocybin and Creativity

  • A single dose of Psilocybin enhances creative thinking and empathy for up to 7 days after use
  • It was a 55 participant study in the Netherlands

Decriminalize Psilocybin in Oakland

  • Activists plan to decriminalize Psilocybin in Oakland

Decriminalize Psilocybin in Denver

  • It will be voted on, on May 7th
  • Joe believes all drugs should be decriminalized
    • We need to have a compassionate drug policy
    • Placing people in jail for non-violent offences tears apart families
    • We should not favor one drug over another in terms of decriminalization

Use of Psychedelics to do War More Effectively

Harm Reduction

  • Joe mentions conversation he had with a friend of the show
    • He mentioned that Ayahuasca sometimes has mold on it
    • Ayahuasca is labor intensive to make, so they make it once and then it grows mold
    • Then people come and drink the mold infested Aya and it can make a person more sick than they need to be
  • “If you have the option to be more safe, should you be?”
  • If we have less harm and less deaths in the drug world over time, in the next 5 or 6 years we are going to see huge benefits with these substances
  • Staying out of jail, not dying, and by being safer with drugs we have more of a chance to influence policy and make these substances and drug checking more available for the future culture

About Joe

Joe studied philosophy in New Hampshire, where he earned his B.A.. After stumbling upon the work of Stanislav Grof during his undergraduate years, Joe began participating in Holotropic Breathwork workshops in Vermont in 2003. Joe helped facilitate Holotropic and Transpersonal Breathwork workshops while he spent his time in New England. He is now working in the software industry as well as hosting a few podcasts. Joe now coordinates Dreamshadow Transpersonal Breathwork workshops, in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Mar 12, 2019


In this episode Kyle and Joe sit down and discuss Esketamine, a new FDA approved drug that is a derivative of Ketamine. They invite quotes from professionals who have experience with generic Ketamine and to voice their opinions.

3 Key Points:

  1. Janssen Pharmaceutica has announced an FDA approved derivative of Ketamine, Esketamine, called Spravato.
  2. The new drug is facing critique on its pricing, route of administration as well as functional differences when compared to the traditional, generic Ketamine.
  3. Joe and Kyle invite professionals in the field who have experience with generic Ketamine to voice their opinions, hopes and concerns about Spravato.

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Show Notes


  • Janssen Pharmaceutica, a Johnson & Johnson Subsidiary has created a derivative of Ketamine called Esketamine and has gone through the whole FDA approval process
  • There has been some concern about a big pharmaceutical company, Janssen coming in and creating a ‘new molecule’ and introducing an FDA approved ‘psychedelic’ to make generic Ketamine obsolete


  • There is going to be price differences based on routes of administration (Intravenous vs lozenges)
  • $1.59 at 100 milligrams (93% bioavailable when administered IM)
  • The list price of Esketamine through Janssen will be $590-$885 per treatment session based on the dosage taken which will vary between patients
    • During the first month of therapy, that would add up to $4720-$6785
      After the first month, maintenance therapy could range from $2300-$3500
    • Joe says Ketamine should be cheap

Scott Shannon

  • Scott Shannon, Director of the Wholeness Center
  • Joe reads a quote from Scott that says that the new Janssen Esketamine product is overpriced, the research data showed that only 2 out of 5 studies demonstrated effectiveness, and generic Ketamine is much more effective and cheaper than Esketamine


  • Insurance might cover Esketamine
  • Kyle says he hasn't heard of too many generic Ketamine sessions being covered by Insurance

Jessica Katzman

  • The approval of Esketamine by the FDA is controversial based on the route of administration, cost and functional differences
  • Only 8-50% of the Esketamine dose is effective
  • Some of the benefits of Esketamine are it's legitimizing of the existing generic
  • Ketamine use as well as an Insurance overview of Ketamine and Esketamine via cost analysis
  • Esketamine is not new, it has been around for a long time

Dr. Matt Brown

  • Physicians have been able to provide Ketamine for decades
  • Janssen was able to get the FDA to approve literally half of what generic Ketamine is
  • There are a lot of unknowns for Esketamine yet, it hasn't even hit the shelves yet
  • Kyle says Ketamine has been used to bring patients internally, like most psychedelic sessions
    • Kyle also says Ketamine is more dissociating, where classic tryptamines like psilocybin are more activating


  • Hypertension, stroke, intracranial mass/hemorrhage and cautions like pregnancy, substance abuse, etc.
  • It's pretty available in the underground, so it could have the potential for risk of abuse
  • Recreational experiences have the opportunity to be the most therapeutic and eye-opening experience
  • Audiobook - Function of Reason by Alfred North Whitehead
    • "I need not continue the discussion. The case is too clear for elaboration. Yet the trained body of physiologists under the influence of the ideas germane to their successful methodology entirely ignore the whole mass of adverse evidence. We have here a colossal example of anti-empirical dogmatism arising from a successful methodology. Evidence which lies outside the method simply does not count.

      We are, of course, reminded that the neglect of this evidence arises from the fact that it lies outside the scope of the methodology of the science. That method consists in tracing the persistence of the physical and chemical principles throughout physiological operations." - quote from Function of Reason


  • Joe invites listeners to ask questions and leave a message of opinions and such (either anonymously or using your name)
  • Google voice 970-368-3133

About Kyle

Kyle’s interest in exploring non-ordinary states of consciousness began when he was 16-years-old when he suffered a traumatic snowboarding accident. Waking up after having a near-death experience changed Kyle’s life. Since then, Kyle has earned his B.A. in Transpersonal Psychology, where he studied the healing potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness by exploring shamanism, plant medicine, Holotropic Breathwork, and the roots/benefits of psychedelic psychotherapy. Kyle has co-taught two college-level courses. One of the courses Kyle created as a capstone project, “Stanislav Grof’s Psychology of Extraordinary Experiences,” and the other one which he co-created, “The History of Psychedelics.”

Kyle is currently pursuing his M.S. in clinical mental health counseling with an emphasis in somatic psychology. Kyle’s clinical background in mental health consists of working with at-risk teenagers in crisis and with individuals experiencing an early-episode of psychosis. Kyle also facilitates Transpersonal Breathwork workshops.

About Joe

Joe studied philosophy in New Hampshire, where he earned his B.A.. After stumbling upon the work of Stanislav Grof during his undergraduate years, Joe began participating in Holotropic Breathwork workshops in Vermont in 2003. Joe helped facilitate Holotropic and Transpersonal Breathwork workshops while he spent his time in New England. He is now working in the software industry as well as hosting a few podcasts. Joe now coordinates Dreamshadow Transpersonal Breathwork workshops, in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Mar 5, 2019


This is an exclusive interview with Elizabeth Gibson from Dreamshadow, a segment from the Psychedelics Today, Navigating Psychedelics Masterclass, Lessons on Self Care and Integration.

3 Key Points:

  1. A common mistake people make is thinking all of the work happens in the session, when really only a portion of the work happens in the session, and the rest happens afterward during integration.
  2. It's important not to isolate yourself after this work, it's important to search out people who will be understanding of your experience.
  3. Elizabeth compares journeywork to planting a seed. You can't grow a whole plant in one session, you simply plant the seed. You determine how it grows by how you water and cultivate it (integrate it), it's a process that can't be rushed.

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Show Notes


  • Integration is one of the most important aspects of work with extraordinary experiences
  • “How do you take material that's come up and bring it into your everyday life? How do you realize the benefit of the intense work that you've done?” - Elizabeth

Elizabeth's Background

  • Elizabeth has been facilitating Breathwork for 23 years
  • She was a part of MDMA trials in the 80’s when it was legal
  • Elizabeth helped edit the MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy Manual

Integrating the Experience

  • A common mistake that people make is thinking all of the work is in the session itself, but really that's only half of the work. The other half of the work happens after leaving the session, the integration.
  • Integration is about being more present with ourselves in every moment, not just yearning to get back to the state of the session
  • The long term subtle changes that happen over time are the most important
  • Stan Grof says that aerobic activity like swimming, running, etc is a way of connecting with energy and feelings that operate at deeper levels
  • Elizabeth says she likes drawing immediately after an experience to work with it symbolically, and then journaling a day or two later once she is able to verbalize her experience
    • “Just do it before you think too much about it”

Community Benefits

  • It's important not to isolate yourself after this work
    • “The principle of community is really important. We can't do this work completely on our own.” - Elizabeth
    • We are all the descendants of successful tribes
    • It's important to search out people who will be understanding of your experience
  • If there is somatic stuff happening in the body, it is a good idea to do some body work, such as deep tissue massage
  • On the other side, if we are holding the space for others who went through a session, it's important for us to make ourselves available for them
    • Just to talk and to be heard is so important on its own
  • Email follow up is tricky because a person can pour their heart out or be very vague or not get deep in their email
    • The email follow up method is also tricky because of difficult response time and interpretation of responses
  • Facebook groups can be a helpful way of finding the others and creating community to be able to reach out to understanding individuals
  • Elizabeth says it's like the analogy of seeds being planted, you decide how you want it to grow and how you cultivate it
    • Acting too quickly after an experience isn't always the best idea, its best to keep it slow

Journeywork Tips

  • Safe setting
  • Access to people who will be able to support you afterwards



About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Gibson, M.S., holds a bachelor’s degree in literature and a master’s degree in biology from The University of Tulsa. She has completed Herbert Benson’s Clinical Training in Mind/Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Previously she worked as a consultant at Arthur D. Little, Inc., and Radian Corporation in the areas of environmental protection and food research. She is a writer, editor and homemaker with interests in environmental literacy, yoga, music and gardening. Elizabeth is the editor of Stanislav Grof ’s The Ultimate Journey: Consciousness and the Mystery of Death and a contributor to the teaching manual MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, both published by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. For the past 12 years, she has been responsible for local news for the Town of Pawlet, and from 2008 – 2014 she was the editor of the weekly environment section for the Rutland Herald and Montpelier Times Argus newspapers in Vermont.