In this episode, Kyle speaks with Imperial College London research assistant and past guest, Dr. Malin Vedøy Uthaug, who just earned her doctorate and published her dissertation on Ayahuasca and 5-MeO-DMT research.
Uthaug discusses how she started working in this field, why Prague is a good place for research, what past research has led to today, how certain factors could predict whether someone would have a more challenging or more mystical experience, how these experiences can treat people with PTSD differently, what dissociation actually means, the differences between vaporized 5-MeO-DMT and intramuscular 5-MeO-DMT injections and how injections typically lead towards better trauma resolution over the "too much too soon" effects of vaporization. They also talk about reactivation (re-experiencing parts of the 5-MeO-DMT experience at a later time) and why it might happen, how it is different from LSD flashbacks, and how expectations, the experience, and the facilitator all come into play.
They discuss her research and dissertation, which consisted of 2 studies on ayahuasca and 3 on 5-MeO-DMT, focusing on if participants saw improvement in convergent thinking and mental health variables (depression, anxiety and stress), and how her placebo-controlled study revealed that those who received the placebo still saw a marked improvement. This leads to a conclusion that often, context may play a larger role than the medicine- feeling safe and being heard in a ceremonial, community-based setting may be the biggest factor towards healing.
“Once you make the unconscious conscious, then you can learn from it, and [it’s not] so much about resisting anymore. Carl Jung says, ‘what you resist persists,’ and what I think is happening, especially with PTSD, is that you’re kind of just holding this ball underwater and it’s not allowed to float to the surface.”
“You need to feel safe, you need to experience being heard and seen. Psychedelics do help us remember things that we have repressed, but obviously, [they] also make us very vulnerable and things might come up. And having somebody witness that and validate those feelings that are expressed and shown can be incredibly healing for people.”
“What we can learn is to learn to sit with difficult emotions and to not push them aside. ...I learned that there is comfort in the discomfort. I learned that you can basically figure out so many things about yourself if you just sit with yourself for a moment and you stay in that uncomfortable silence.”
Malin completed her PhD at the department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology, at the faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience at Maastricht University, The Netherlands. As part of her PhD, she investigated the short-term and long-term effects of Ayahuasca and 5-MeO-DMT in naturalistic settings, while simultaneously initiating several other studies on the psychedelic substance Mescaline and the breathing practice known as Holotropic Breathwork (HB). Malin is currently working as a Postdoctoral researcher at The Centre for Psychedelic Research, at Imperial College London, led by Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris. Here she is investigating the effects of 5-MeO-DMT on mental health related variables, brain activity and consciousness together with Dr. Christopher Timmermann. Besides being a researcher, Malin is also an editor for the ‘Journal of Psychedelics Studies’, a board member of the American podcast-show known as Psychedelics Today, and the co-founder of the Norwegian Association for Psychedelic Science (Norsk Forening for Psykedelisk Vitenskap [NFPV]) whose main aim is to educate the general public as well as researchers, and mental health practitioners in Norway about psychedelics.