In today’s Christmas episode of Solidarity Friday, Kyle and Joe take a break from the news and instead sit down with Jonas Di Gregorio and Kristina Soriano of the Psychedelic Literacy Fund, a donor-advised fund working to raise money and co-finance the translation and publication of the most important books on psychedelic therapy into a variety of different languages.
Their first project is both volumes of Stan Grof's The Way of the Psychonaut, which they hope to have translated into German, French, and Italian by July (for Grof's 90th birthday), and they have started a list of future projects, with Christopher Bache's LSD and the Mind of The Universe likely next. They talk about early interactions with Rick Doblin, why they went with a donor-advised fund rather than a crowdfunding model, the synchronicities they saw at early steps in their path, what Grof's work has meant to them, and a possible future goal of setting up a Grof museum in Prague. Kyle and Joe also share stories of their interactions with Grof and how his work (and how little he was being discussed) led to the beginnings of Psychedelics Today 4 years ago.
If you're feeling some holiday generosity and want to help more people gain the knowledge Grof has brought to so many, please visit Psychedelicliteracy.org and make a donation (or volunteer translation services or suggest future projects).
Lastly, if you celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas from Psychedelics Today!
“We have an inherently global mission. We’re an Italian and a Philippino living in America, trying to translate the work of a Czech psychiatrist.” -Kristina
“For me, it’s his capacity to really connect different fields, from quantum physics to psychiatry, [to the] history of religion- it’s really remarkable. The depth of his knowledge is so wide, and I think it can speak to so many people coming from different fields. I remember as a teenager, sharing the content of the books by Grof with friends that were studying physics and friends who were studying philosophy and friends who were studying psychology, and all of them could find something they could really appreciate.” -Jonas
“A book can be a harm reduction tool. ...Just having a book at the right time can really help you integrate a difficult experience and change the course of your life. Definitely, this has been the case for me. I didn’t know anyone in my community at the time that could really guide me, and these books played that role.” -Jonas
“Especially now, there’s a lot of conversation about diversity- how to increase diversity in the psychedelic community. Maybe the way to do that is literally to speak their language.” -Jonas
“I think the mental health crisis isn’t language-specific. I think it happens everywhere.” -Kristina
In this episode, Joe interviews "Car Bomb"- the 9-year NHL veteran, 2-time Stanley Cup winner (as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks), founder of The Chapter Five Foundation (an organization helping athletes transition into post-sports life), and advocate for the healing power of psilocybin, Daniel Carcillo.
Carcillo tells the story of his struggles and depression brought on from post-hockey life transition, 7 diagnosed concussions, and the death of his good friend and fellow player, Steve Montador, who struggled with similar issues before his sudden death in 2015. He talks about the stress of pro sports and the cult-like, team-first attitude in hockey, the hazing athletes experience coming up, the causes and effects of yelling coaches and a "be better" attitude, and how his post-hockey work and speaking out has ostracized him from the community while many people are reaching out to him for help behind the scenes.
His first hero dose of psilocybin forever changed his life, but it wasn't just psilocybin- he's done a lot in the 5 years since that first ceremony, from neurofeedback, acupuncture, deprivation tanks, and using a gyrostim, to regularly microdosing, taking medicinal mushrooms like lion's mane and reishi, meditating, starting a CBD and supplements company, and growing huge crops of cannabis. He talks about how this has all helped improve his life and his relationships with his family, and what he hopes to do with his Chapter Five Foundation and beyond- researching more into what worked for him and developing a protocol/regiment to help people affected by concussions, post-concussive syndrome, TBIs, CTE, or just those struggling with what to do after sports.
“I’m an advocate for everything, for all tiers. I’m an advocate for the Decrim Nature [model] because it’s a lower-tier model to get people this medicine, and then I’m an advocate for the clinical model that people are pushing forward in Oregon, and I’m an advocate for these big pharma/biotech companies coming out and researching. ...You really have to make sure that we’re doing it the right way, and I think a lot of the companies out there are, so I think there’s such an opportunity at the ground floor right now to really get in, and if you have something that’s proven, that’s worked (like we do), then I really, really just feel so passionately about furthering that type of research, to again, get millions of people this type of treatment and this type of option.”
“It’s still kind of unbelievable when I begin to talk about it, kind of what I’ve set in motion, but I believe in it so much and I’m still really in awe of what this medicine has done for me. We have one life to live. How do I help the most people that I can?”
“I just had to adjust my whole perspective and thinking and how I spoke to myself, changing the negative motivation to positive. But it’s constant work, because I’m just so used to being yelled at and then [being negative towards myself]. It’s definitely one of the biggest shifts that I’ve had, and I had that shift- that was at 2 and a half months after that big ceremony. That’s where I knew- that’s what really convinced me, and I’ll never forget this: I was driving out to my plants and they were about, I don’t know, 3 feet tall, and we were about 2 and a half months in, and I was like, ‘Wow Dan, really good job.’ I had this voice say that and I was like, ‘What the hell was that? Where did that come from?’ I’ve never done that, ever, and I was like ‘Ohhh man, something happened. Something shifted.’”
Daniel Carcillo is a two time Stanley Cup Champion and played 9 seasons in the National Hockey League. Daniel experienced emotional, sexual and physical trauma within hockey's culture and battled mental health and addiction issues during and post career. When he retired in 2015, after sustaining 7 concussions and due to Post Concussion Syndrome, he founded Chapter 5 Foundation, a charitable organization that helps athletes transition into life after the game. Daniel struggled with PCS symptoms like light sensitivity, slurred speech, insomnia, headaches and head pressure, impulse control issues, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts and traditional treatments did not work. Daniel brought forth the Decriminalize Nature resolution to the city of Chicago, sits on the Decriminalize Nature National Advisory Board & the board of the Heroic Hearts Project, a registered 501(c)(3) non profit that connects military veterans struggling with mental trauma to ayahuasca therapy retreats. Daniel has recently founded Made Therapeutics, a life sciences company that is researching loading and maintenance doses of psilocybin to treat traumatic brain injury, Post Concussion Syndrome, migraines and TBI related anxiety, depression and PTSD. Daniel and Made Therapeutics will be working towards validating the first novel care option for TBI survivors through Health Canada (IMPD) and FDA (IND) clinical trials, with Pre-IMPD & Pre-IND meetings set to establish a pathway forward to fast track status for traumatic brain injury.
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Kyle and Joe talk about what they've been up to in the last few weeks: doing drugs!
Kyle first tells us about his recent experiments with revisiting salvia (which is legal in his state) and how different the experiences were from his young-and-dumb experiments as a teenager- how smaller doses in more ceremonial settings with years of experience in breathwork-inspired non-ordinary states of consciousness helped him see salvia differently. He talks about feeling like he just met the spirit of salvia, and the first message was to "respect the plants." He may be seeing her again.
And Joe talks in-depth about his experience last Friday with his first intermuscular ketamine injection- the setting, the music (Sigur Rós- good call, Joe), the dose and timing, and what he heard and felt (and didn't) in his ultimately anxiety-relieving, body-dissolving time in an empty void. Like Kyle, he's now even more open to and supportive of ketamine after the experience.
And they also talk about a new ibogaine analog that was recently created called tabernanthalog (or TBG), of which a single injection helped against heroin use relapse in mice for 14 days and doesn't stimulate the brain's reward centers. And they talk about the good that could come from the drug-designing technique used to create it, called function-oriented synthesis.
“Some people tell me they like 1.2 mg/kg. Some people even like to go as high as 2. I think 2 mg/kg is essentially like, they could harvest all your organs and you wouldn’t notice one bit. Based on how high and dissociated I was, they probably could have done it to me- if they made it quick, like 5 minutes. I probably would have been fine.” -Joe
“The way I always framed it before going in was: this is an experience of consciousness without identity, without ego, without anything, really. And I didn’t really feel like there was anything there that was me. The idea of 'Joe' felt like a weird thing, a weird silly thing. There was just, like, I and ego and one consciousness, so it wasn’t like a Hindu, bliss consciousness thing; it was like me, as an entity, experiencing… something. Like empty void.” -Joe
“This experience was really just fascinating, like how rapidly my consciousness changed. It wasn’t a hurried, frenetic thing like DMT. It was like, “Oh, nope. You’re just here. You’re chilling. You’re not going anywhere.” -Joe
“The MAPs protocol is going to be very expensive. Psychedelic Therapy is already very expensive. So, if we could have a drug that would be safe for somebody to take at home, alone, I think of course we should do that. Not everything is cured through the psychedelic experience. Though a lot of things can be, it’s not the case that everything needs to be.” -Joe
In this episode, Joe interviews Dr. Thomas of Clarity Psychiatry in Boulder, Colorado.
Thomas first discusses what he initially looks for in patients (low-lying fruit like a vitamin D deficiency or poor diet) and what he recommends for boosting immunity and improving overall health, then this becomes a bit of an "everything you ever wanted to know about ketamine and ketamine-assisted therapy" podcast.
He talks about the range in treatment methods across conventional models and what you could expect to experience in relation to dose, experience, and price, and how he likes to use ketamine in his practice. And he talks about the dependence that can come from more conventional "get dripped" methods, the variation of doses and subsequent effects on most people vs. more sensitive people, ways to calibrate a patient to give them the best (and safest) possible experience, the missed opportunities of models that don't spend as much time on the experience and integration, why he believes so strongly in the efficacy and safety of ketamine (especially when compared to other psychedelics), and why how he'd like to see breathwork be used more in conjunction with both psychedelic and traditional therapies.
“In the worldview of the way I was trained, the whole point of ketamine therapy is not to get somebody hooked on ketamine for the rest of their life. It’s to give them enough corrective expanded experiences of healing and of their own inherent wholeness that they don’t need the ketamine- that whatever was off-balance is coming right.”
“I’d like to maybe reframe the word ‘dissociative.’ With ketamine, chemically, in the ketamine state, we are becoming less and less in tune with outside sensory input. We are dissociating with ourselves as a body, temporarily, to some degree. And we are associating with ourselves as something other than body. And there’s some real- I’m just going to go ahead and use the word- there’s some real magic in that possibly. There’s some real healing potential.”
“One of the final common pathways, shall we say, of any medicine or technique that can induce a non-ordinary state is temporarily softening the ruminative negative self-narrative that’s so characteristic of human suffering and mental illness. And how you achieve that state, in some ways, is potentially not even that important. ...Holotropic breathwork, or what I call journey breathwork, in any of its forms, absolutely can soften that egoic function and give people access to the parts of themselves that are bigger than that negative self-narrative, and just to bask in the juiciness of what’s possible when that happens. ...And I think from a pragmatic standpoint, if we were to use breathwork as [an] interim integration tool between sessions, could we get away with maybe slightly decreasing the frequency of the more expensive psychedelic sessions? Might there be societal value in that while still retaining the efficacy and the self-learning and the insights and all the good stuff that goes along with that?”
Dr. Thomas graduated from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He completed his medical school training at Emory University School of Medicine. He then went on to complete his post graduate psychiatric residency training at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Kyle and Joe sit down and discuss several topics in the news.
First, they congratulate co-founder of Psymposia, President of Adelia, and friend of Psychedelics Today (and first podcast guest) Brett Greene, on Adelia being acquired by CYBIN, for the equivalent of about $15.75 million USD (!!). And they talk about Silo Pharma announcing an upcoming Phase 2B trial testing low-dose psilocybin and LSD on the effects of neurogenesis on patients with Parkinson's disease and how we often forget that psychedelics can help with physical ailments (and not just depression and anxiety), 17 healthcare professionals at TheraPsil being allowed to take psilocybin as part of a training program and the need for therapists and sitters working with psychedelics to have psychedelic experiences themselves before working with others, and rock art evidence of datura being ingested at Pinwheel Cave in California.
And they also discuss a very important article about how to keep the psychedelic renaissance from going off the rails. With so much excitement surrounding psychedelics and so many underground groups and professional organizations doing so much without any centralized control, it's too easy for people to drain their bank accounts, jump ahead of science, and overcommit to an idea, forgetting the very real risks of these substances and everything surrounding them. And if we go too far, it just raises the risk of those in power shutting it all down.
“There’s a lot of nervousness around training, I think. Like, what constitutes good training? Not only is a ton of education, but it’s kind of a ton of time. The same way psychoanalysts have to go through psychoanalysis themselves, and therapists have to do therapy themselves, why is it not the case that psychedelic people need to do the same?” -Joe
“I think we need to be having some of these honest conversations even if it goes against our mission here at times of wanting to help get these substances legalized, decriminalized, whatever that track is. And [talking about] the promise of it, sometimes maybe we do get idealistic and say ‘This is going to revolutionize and change the world!’ but I also have to think back to some of my past experiences and be like, ‘Do I want to go through that again? I don’t think so.’ I mean, it pushed me out on the other side and I think made me a stronger person to some degree, but going through what I went through in those early years, it was pretty terrifying.” -Kyle
“Education and caution, I think is the point here, moving forward, and to be really honest with yourself too, especially if you’re in a place [where you’re] educating folks about psychedelics. How can you listen to other people’s stories and hear that maybe they’re not always light and magic- that people do experience a lot of fallout from it at times and things can get worse?” -Kyle
In this episode, Joe interviews Ph.D., Professor at the University of Maryland focusing on economics and global business studies, Advisory Board Member of the Usona Institute and Synthesis Institute, and co-founder of the Transformative Capital Institute, Bennet Zelner.
Zelner discusses the problems with our current economic, healthcare, therapeutic, and community paradigms- that our prevailing model is one of hyper-individualistic, drug-first action, compounded by a crisis of connection (the epidemic of loneliness we're experiencing), a crisis of extraction (giant corporations replacing local businesses with the bulk of profit being sent outside the community), and a crisis of depletion (decisions about community resources being made by those outside the community). And he talks about how his Transformative Capital Institute aims to facilitate many small changes to lead to large paradigm shifts, centered on his pollination approach- recognizing and encouraging the intrinsic interdependence between individual and community well-being.
He talks about the various projects the Transformative Capital Institute is working on, the way change happens and the complications of creating new paradigms from flawed ones, and how the pollination approach relates to psychedelics: using the newfound window of openness people experience after an experience to connect them with their community systems and surrounding environment- to help heal a person while revitalizing currently-broken systems at the same time.
“The pollination approach is rooted in a core, ecological principle, which is that the health of a system and of the elements in a system depends on the continual renewal and recirculation of resources within that system, and that’s the complete opposite of what we have right now.”
“What you’re not seeing is the reduction in subsequent local economic activity that’s going to occur as a result of the few bucks you just saved at Walmart. One of the other projects that I’m working on with a few other folks attempts to quantify that so that people can see what the effects are of spending their money locally vs. spending it at outposts of giant corporations. And I think if we can make that information accessible and comprehensible to people, then we can change behavior without even having to build in some kind of strong form incentive.”
“We’ve been taught by every institution in our society from the time that we are born that we’re not enough, that there’s not enough to go around, and in order to get ahead, we basically need to win at the expense of someone else, who loses. Even once we recognize how fallacious that is intellectually, there’s still a lot of work to be done to eliminate the deep, cognitive imprints in which that type of thinking is enshrined. ...I think that psychedelics-- as I said, they’re tools of personal transformation, so they can help people heal from trauma, etc. But I think they can also help people move into new paradigm ways of thinking and behaving.”
“In terms of shifting to a new paradigm in the healthcare system, I think the key shift needs to be one from a system that is focused on managing disease or managing disease symptoms (which is what we currently have) ...toward a system that’s focused on producing well-being. And I think psychedelics have a big role to play in that type of system.”
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, after a short and much-needed break, Kyle and Joe return, but don't really touch on any news. This time, they have a very open conversation largely focused on philosophy and capitalism.
They dive into a lot of philosophical questions: are we reducing the mystical to the medical? Do we understand enough about spirit and somatic energies to measure them? How much are therapists and sitters interpreting mystical experience and assigning meaning to it for others vs. teaching people how to interpret it themselves? What makes a God? Is commodifying the sacred bad? And what makes something sacred other than it being significant? And the classic: What is good?
They also touch on Harvard School of World Religions' year-long series on psychedelics and the future of religion, the Divine Command Theory, James Kent's DoseNation podcast series, Charles Eisenstein and the concept of deflationary money, the billionaire pledge, triple bottom line thinking and other ways to incentivize employees to make businesses closer to co-ops, and why not all capitalism is bad. Lastly, Joe highly recommends Tom O'Neill and Dan Piepenbring's book, CHAOS: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties, which touches on MKUltra, the Phoenix Program, how the government used Charles Manson, and how the drug war was a logical consequence of the paranoia of the U.S.S.R. and communism toppling the USA and capitalism.
“Coming from the somatic world, our bodies- I think, sometimes we dismiss that and maybe might call that a little ‘woo woo,’ but how is your body an actual instrument that can help you understand maybe what’s going on? It’s firing a bunch of signals all the time, right? Information is just coming in and we have to try to make sense of it. Is it an appropriate instrument to try to learn how to discern the information that’s coming in? Could we finely tune that?” -Kyle
“It’s helpful to have diagnostic categories, but I think we’re taking the diagnostic categories a little too seriously and making them a little too real. A diagnostic category is not as real as a glass of water in your hand. One’s real concrete, one’s real abstract. Both are helpful at times. Both could be harmful, depending on what you do with the glass.” -Joe
“A lot of folks want to just use psychedelics and escape the world, like the ‘drop out’ thing. Like, ‘I’m just going to be with the spirit world.’ But it’s like, what good is you being with the spirit world if you’re not having any impact on the world world?” -Joe
“Being hubristic enough to say that ‘I have an answer’- that’s where I see the problem. Being willing to engage in conversation with people with a lot more experience with this kind of thing is probably where it’s at. Like, ok, let’s talk to 4-5 economists and see what their opinion is. Maybe talk to some professional ethicists to see what their opinion is. I don’t think anybody is going to have the answer, but by hearing all of those perspectives, we can learn more.” -Joe
In this episode, Joe interviews writer, director, and producer of the recent documentary, "The Way of the Psychonaut: Stanislav Grof's Journey of Consciousness," Susan Hess Logeais.
The film, which we streamed and presented a panel for back in October, was co-produced by Stan Grof himself, and tells of his journey from his youth in Nazi-occupied Prague to Esalen to today, with much of Logeais and her theory-affirming life story mixed in. It features interviews with many big names, including Fritjof Capra and Rupert Sheldrake, and full-length interviews can now be found on the film's website; 2 of which are conversations between Grof and legends we've lost recently: Ralph Metzner and Michael Harner. It is Joe's favorite film on Grof and his work.
Logeais talks about making the movie and meeting such big names in the field, wonders how differently children might grow up if quantum physics and a respectful agreement with nature were taught in school, discusses cesarian births and the differences they could create in fear or stress response in comparison to kids born traditionally, and talks about the power of breathwork and its enormous influence on psychedelic-assisted therapy.
“When I met Stan and heard him speak and heard what he spoke about- tantric science, mythology, Eastern spiritual traditions, even quantum physics, Shamanic journeywork- there were so many things that he spoke about that I had explored on my own before I met him. And then in the course of making the movie, I realized that he had introduced many of those concepts during his 14 years at Esalen. And so I was resonating with him on a level-- it’s like he was impacting my life before I met him.”
On using MDMA with psychedelics: “Perhaps as an introduction to a psychedelic experience, especially for people who are older, it might not be a bad idea. I know the anxiety that I had occasionally when something was going really fast and very deep. But I agree with you in that the depth and that anxiety passes, and it’s in the learning to get past that anxiety that we develop capacity for reflection and to move away from reactivity. So I think maybe for the first trip, just to say, ‘Ok, this is what you’re in for, and next time we’re not going to do this.’”
“I just want to say how valuable I think Stan’s contribution is, and how proud I am, or how, I guess, grateful I am to have worked with him in the creation of this film. And I’m so glad that you enjoyed it because I wanted to take his theories, his discoveries, his contributions, and make them accessible and interesting so that people could watch it and come away with an understanding that would hopefully inspire them to then go and do the deep work. And I hope people come to the website and visit the live stream archive page so that they can gain a deeper understanding of all these amazing concepts that Stan participated in sharing during his time at Esalen and his ITA conferences.”
Susan holds a demonstrated history of working in the entertainment industry. She is skilled in Music Videos, Film, Documentaries, Commercials, and Theatre. She demonstrates strong entrepreneurship professional with a Interdisciplinary Degree focused in Transformational Entertainment and Human Consciousness from Marylhurst University. She is an actress and producer, known for Gone (2012), Not Dead Yet (2009) and The Way of the Psychonaut: Stanislav Grof's Journey of Consciousness (2020).
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, the typical Solidarity Fridays format is switched up yet again, this time with Joe interviewing author of best-selling book, The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion with No Name, and recent Joe Rogan Experience guest, Brian Muraresku. Because where do you go after Joe Rogan? Psychedelics Today, of course.
Muraresku discusses how his fascination with Latin and Greek and the 1978 book, The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries (by R. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hofmann, and Carl A. P. Ruck) and its proposal of a psychedelic sacrament of sorts being imbibed at the Rites of Eleusis led him to spend about 12 years searching for evidence to prove it. From the idea of "graveyard beer," to Alcibiades and the profanation of mysteries, to wine parties to interact with the dead called refrigeriums, Muraresku dives deep into his findings: that the wine they drank was, at the least, spiked with herbs and spices to create something very different and likely hallucinogenic, that participants were seeking immortality, a euphoric ecstasy, and communion with both God and the dead, that both the Dionysian Gospel and Christianity are heavily related to the Rites of Eleusis, and that these ceremonies don't appear to have been isolated to Eleusis- that people took what they learned and practiced elsewhere, in what Denise Demetriou refers to as "open-access sanctuaries."
“Some of the legacies of this civilization, from democracy and the arts and sciences to literature and philosophy and the very concept of a university- all these inheritances are the things that we associate with the very literate Greeks. And there stands Euelisis at the center of it all. ...And they [the Rites] were seen as so important, so central, so integral to life at the time, that even Cicero, a Roman in the first century B.C.- he referred to Euelisis as ‘the most exceptional and divine thing that Athens ever produced.’ So it wasn’t democracy, the arts, sciences, etc. It was Eleusis.”
“They saw something. The thinking for a long time was that maybe it was a theatrical performance- maybe there was something happening in this temple that has been lost to time. And then that book I mentioned in 1978, The Road to Eleusis, was saying as long as we’re talking about a vision, why can’t it be something that was produced internally? Why couldn’t it be one of these great epiphanic psychedelic visions? And so, as a hypothesis, it makes sense just based on the way people talked about this experience. It was a once in a lifetime experience that essentially erased the fear of death and made these initiates immortals. And weirdly, which is why I picked this up in the first place, it’s very, very similar to the testimony that comes from the volunteers in the Johns Hopkins experiments with psilocybin. It’s again, a once in a lifetime single dose of psilocybin [that] seems to result in these profound, mystical transformations in people; including atheists, who will describe it as among the most meaningful experiences of their lives.”
“I think that there was a historical Jesus, and I think that we have these relatively conflicting accounts of what he was and what the message was in the canonical gospels that have come down to us. But we have these other gospels and this Gnostic literature that didn’t make it in The Bible, and the gospel of Mary Magdalene. And what comes across to me, time and again, are people trying to find ecstasy, people looking for communion with Jesus. And again, you don’t have to look off into all this esoteric stuff just to focus on the very simple proposition that the Eucharist is an immortality potion, plain and simple.”
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, the typical Solidarity Fridays format is switched up again, this time with Joe interviewing podcast host and psychiatrist specializing in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, Craig Heacock.
Will Hall's 2 recent SF episodes spurred a lot of conversation, and led to Heacock reaching out to Psychedelics Today to counter some of Hall's points, and stand up a bit on behalf of psychiatry. He feels that while psychiatry isn't perfect, saying to replace it isn't helpful, and doesn't feel that anyone in psychiatry is saying a pill will fix anything, but rather, that if psychedelics can help people get in touch with buried trauma (something that typically takes a lot of time and relationship/trust-building and often still doesn't work), then shouldn't we not only be treating them like medicine, but also learning as much as we possibly can about them?
He points out some of the most obvious flaws with our model of psychiatry (and how we deal with mental health in general), discusses the barriers stopping physicians from learning more about ketamine, looks at the "spiritual emergency vs. psychotic break" argument from a different perspective, talks about what he sees in his practice and how much ketamine has helped his clients, and really brings home one of Will Hall's main points from a different perspective- while Hall talked about how science isn't always the answer because of how much nuance there is from person to person, he points out the amount of nuance in how mental health physicians treat clients, how clients arrived at their mental state in the first place, and how differently they respond, both with or without psychedelics.
Whether you felt Will Hall brought a lot of interesting ideas to the table or hated those episodes, this is the yin to those episodes' yang.
“I think a lot of psychiatrists are just trying to keep their head above water, which, I think, they would much more enjoyably keep their head above water if they would use ketamine in their practices.”
“We may never understand the mind-brain connection fully, but don’t we want to try?”
“We’re finding with ayahuasca work (a lot of psychedelic work) that some people are going to these sessions and their conscious brain is saying ‘oh yea, there’s no trauma,’ and we’re finding out that there’s some serious trauma that’s just underneath the surface. And again, if we don’t know that, how can we get to the roots of anything? ...Almost like we use a CT scan to see what’s happening in your innermost self, it’d be interesting to think of using psychedelics as sort of a psychological diagnostic tool to say: 'Is there trauma in there?'”
“When Will is saying, ‘Why are we trying to address trauma with a pill?’ I don’t think any of us are. I don’t think anybody on the MAPS study or I don’t know, people in the psilocybin studies- I really don’t think anybody is thinking, 'Ooo we’re going to fix PTSD with psilocybin!' or 'We’re going to fix trauma with this 150 mg MDMA capsule!’ Nobody’s thinking that. What we’re thinking is: this is a catalyst, [and] resources are limited. ...We need to get in there quickly and get working on this, and that’s what’s so exciting to me about psychedelics coming online with mental health, is that we can get down to business quickly and not have to spend so much time trying to get past these defenses.”
“Capitalism is messy and psychiatry is messy and psychedelics are messy and people are messy, and isn’t that ok? Can’t we just accept that and not default to this sort of pan-negativism and finger-pointing and blaming? Because, again, we’re all on the same team. We want the same thing. We want people to thrive and we want to dial down psychological despair as much as we can.”
In this episode, Joe interviews Psychedelics Today's first 3-time guest, Dena Justice of the Ecstatic Collective.
They discuss the ins and outs of something we're all too familiar with: anxiety. They talk about how Western society's lack of community and focus on doing things yourself (and not asking for help) mixed with a weird pride in being overworked and stressed has created a world where we all deal with daily anxiety, and deal with it differently. She first became addicted to exercise, but realized that learning to slow down, ignoring FOMO and embracing JOMO (the joy of missing out), having fewer goals in favor of more accomplishment, embracing play as a way of finding flow state, celebrating accomplishments instead of failures, and tuning her frequency towards happiness has helped her change her life drastically for the better.
She talks about more ways to combat anxiety, and her new program where you can sign up for these kinds of tips and tricks to be emailed to you on a regular basis (sign up here). She is also offering a valuable discounted bundle of courses in partnership with Psychedelics Today, which includes 2 Ecstatic Collective courses and 2 Psychedelics Today courses.
“The best thing you can do is learn to be uncomfortable.”
“Talking about playful things is just tapping into the inner child inside of us, giving ourselves permission to play. Go to the playground. Ignore the sign that says ‘this playspace is designated for 12-year-olds and under.’ F that! Your tax dollars paid for that playground. Go play on that playground!”
“Look at all these non-ordinary states of consciousness and how they tie in here- meditation, breathwork, exercise, early childhood (because that’s pure receptivity), psychedelics, every single orgasm. ...Every single one of these things is putting us in flow state. It’s bringing us to the present moment, where anxiety cannot exist because we’re in the present. Anxiety is fear of the future, depression is being caught up on the past. ...but when we’re in the present, all of that goes away.”
“Email is a tool for efficiency, not necessarily effectiveness. What’s effective? Real communication. I think a lot of anxiety comes from the lack of true communication these days. ...7% of what our communication is is the actual words we say to each other. 55% is our physiology and 38% is our tonality. That means we’re losing 93% of our communication when we put it in an email or a text message or on social media.”
As a master manifester, Dena has created a beautiful life for herself. She been financially responsible since age 15 including putting herself through college, two masters degrees and purchasing her own home in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has made over $1M in her life through a fulfilling career as a facilitator, educator, trainer, mentor and coach working with thousands of people across the country. She loved her career, yet hit a point where she felt empty. Near the top of her career ladder, she was a classic case of a high performer and leader hitting burnout. She chose a powerful pivot out of her J-O-B and into her own business. Now, she helps other high performers who have hit burnout and are scared to admit they’ve hit a plateau or a wall. She helps them get the eff out of their own way and move to the next level to increase their impact so they feel fulfilled and inspired again, as well as helping them create more wealth and the relationships they want in their lives. She helps people experience new levels of success, increase/improve focus and performance, abolish FOMO, evolve communication skills, develop transformational leadership skills, create amazing relationships, increase financial abundance and live life on their own terms.
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Joe and Kyle review all of the big wins from the U.S. election, from Oregon decriminalizing drug possession and legalizing psilocybin therapy, to 4 states legalizing cannabis use for adults, to the most surprising (in terms of how far this movement has come), Washington D.C. decriminalizing plant medicines with an overwhelming 76% of voters in favor.
And they talk about the other side of this good- how Oregon memes show just how little the majority of people understand, how there are still huge issues with stigma, drug exceptionalism, and labeling, how liability and the rules of healthcare get in the way of compassion and humane treatment, and how those same issues will unfortunately extend into psychedelics.
They also do a brief deep dive into breathwork- its history, its various versions, its building blocks (accelerated breathing, evocative music, focused bodywork, group process, and safety), and the risks and likely loss in benefit in attempting to do this kind of work online.
And, lastly, exciting news: the next round of the live, 8-week (CE-approved) version of Navigating Psychedelics for Clinicians and Therapists will be starting up on January 7th, so sign up now!
“I remember just watching all of this stuff come in on election night and just thinking, ‘Wow, it feels like plants have really won the election here.’ ...All of the initiatives that were up there passed during this election cycle, which is pretty phenomenal and a huge kind of shift.” -Kyle
“These different institutions have different rules, different liabilities. Like, a VA doc is probably going to be a lot more protected than a private practice doc, but the VA doc is going to be on a lot tighter regulations on what they can do, just based on the healthcare system they’re in. It’s a complicated deal. I don’t envy doctors for having to be in that situation. It’s really not an easy job. And I know they’re doing the best they can; it’s just, you know, their rules get in the way of their compassion and interest in healing people sometimes.” -Joe
“I had and still have a ferocious case of ADD that’s never been diagnosed. I’ve been extraordinarily productive if I ever needed to use something like Adderall. It works great. But there’s so much stigma around saying something like that in the psychedelic world. We’re often a little too judgy, is kind of my position. ...There’s cases when it’s appropriate, there’s cases when it’s not appropriate, and as long as there’s informed consent and decent education, it should be up to the individuals, and we should stay the fuck out of people’s business.” -Joe
On breathwork: “It’s my favorite. It’s something I’ve been doing for so long that it’s my most comfortable, somehow least scary method of going inside and doing inner work, because I know I have this safe cultural container- a safe container with people I trust and love, and it’s always helpful and amazing. Even if I don’t get the experience I want, just being there in community is still medicine enough.” -Joe
In this episode, Joe interviews Ph.D., Professor at the University of Saskatchewan, and author specializing in the history of psychedelics and their relation to the medical industry, Erika Dyck.
Dyck talks about her interest in Canadian history and specifically Saskatchewan, which was the first jurisdiction in North America to elect a socialist government. She talks about how it was clear in the early days of governmental support that they were reaching out to people with bold ideas, leading to Humphry Osmand coming there in 1951 to commence research that he felt was being stifled in London.
They talk extensively about the work of Osmand and Abram Hoffer, early experiments with giving staff in mental hospitals LSD to encourage empathy toward patients, a hospital architect taking LSD and learning that tiled, checkerboard-esque floors may be a challenge to patients with depth perception issues, a “Hollywood hospital” where wealthy film stars were flown to deal with addiction largely in secret, the concept of having patients write out an autobiography before a medicine session in order to reflect back on their life afterward, Osmond's participation in a peyote ceremony and his subsequent report, why the Timothy Leary model of dropping out of the scientific/academic world isn't helpful, why time passed and changed public opinion have led to old research coming to light, and why it's more important to talk to people who aren't sold on psychedelics yet instead of those who are already bought in and live in our psychedelic bubble.
“Even people like Humphry Osmond or Abram Hoffer who were on the frontlines of that psychedelic heyday in the 1950s- they were quite careful (and obviously they were sort of practiced at this), but they were quite careful about how I might characterize their work with psychedelics, and they insisted that what they were doing was not unethical, they did not have money from the C.I.A., they had lots of checks and balances, and they were clearly responding to that very heavy reputation and characterization of psychedelics. And I reflect on that every once in a while, and wonder, ‘what would they would say today?’”
On Osmond and peyote: “It was the question of whether or not these chemicals and these rituals using chemicals should be allowed more broadly. And I think that the federal government in Canada was thinking that, again, this white-coated British guy would walk in and behave like the colonialist that they expected him to be, and come out and say ‘these are rotten ceremonies,’ but that was absolutely not who Humphry Osmond was. He participated fully. He chewed the buttons, he threw up, he participated in the feast afterwards, he participated in the drumming circle. ...So Osmond then made a statement (and he’s published about this in a variety of different places) saying this was an absolutely beautiful ceremony, it was absolutely sacred, it should be protected, it should be promoted, [and] people should be given access to peyote so that they continue this sacred ceremony. And the Canadian government was not impressed with this reaction.”
“Our governments are addicted to the war on drugs.”
“I think that part of what the psychedelic world needs to do, in my humble opinion, is to reach out and seek these kinds of bridges and these alliances, because I think that there’s a risk that we can just convince ourselves that psychedelics are good and that it won’t actually break through the psychedelic bubble, if you will, to convince regulators that in fact, there is real merit here. There’s still a sense that-- even just saying LSD- I gave a presentation last week to a group of retired physicians and these are people with medical training and who’ve spent their careers doing medical education and medical work, clinical work. And they’re like ‘oh, but LSD, that’s the one that fries your brain, right?’ I mean, these were disproven studies in the 70s, and yet it’s very interesting that that characterization is so strong.”
Erika Dyck is a professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan. Her work focuses on 20th century medical history, especially the history of psychedelics, psychiatry, eugenics and population control. Her books include Psychedelic Psychiatry: LSD from Clinic to Campus (2008); Facing Eugenics: Reproduction, Sterilization, and the Politics of Choice (2013); Managing Madness: Weyburn Mental Hospital and the Transformation of Psychiatric Care in Canada(2017); and she is editor of A Culture’s Catalyst: Historical Encounters with Peyote and the Native American Church in Canada (2016) and co-editor of Psychedelic Prophets: The Letters of Aldous Huxley and Humphry Osmond (2018). She is a guest editor at the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. You can email her at Erika.email@example.com.
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Joe and Kyle continue their conversation from last week with Will Hall: therapist, host of the Madness Radio podcast, author of Outside Mental Health: Voices and Visions of Madness, and previous psychiatric patient diagnosed with schizophrenia.
This week, Hall compares how the medical industry treats those seeking therapy and growth vs. how they treat the homeless and victims of sexual abuse, how the framework for mental disorders disrespects the individual, neoliberalism and why capitalism and the free market shouldn’t be the answer for everything, Grof's focus on etiology and why his model of spiritual emergence is problematic, the future of psychedelic advertising in a world where anything that can be sold will be sold, and the 3 biggest factors towards successful therapy.
And he focuses a lot on what we should be doing: creating and promoting individualized medicines and healing techniques over mass-produced Band-aid medicine, not reducing a difficult psychedelic experience to biology and instead focusing on getting to the root of what is causing the issue and working through it, not solely researching the effects of drugs, and most importantly, researching how people have bettered themselves without drugs- if the long-lasting effects of psychedelics and integration work are the catalyst for change, how can we get to those effects and integrations without the drug?
“Drugs are drugs. I don’t believe in psychedelic exceptionalism. I don’t believe in psychiatric drug exceptionalism. Drugs are drugs. There’s no exceptionalism for drugs. If they change your consciousness, they’re getting you high in one way or another, and that is what is either beneficial or nonbeneficial to you, based on your experience.”
“The people who are having successful treatment with MDMA psychotherapy- they aren’t just reporting ‘oh, my depression is down;’ they’re reporting all these wonderful benefits of MDMA. Why should we wait until you have a diagnosis of PTSD to give access to MDMA [to someone] if they want to experience those benefits as well? The people who are having the experiences of psychedelics are not having the experiences of disease-treatment, they’re having the experiences of psychedelics, which can be, for many people, very positive. So why are we gate-keeping the access? And if we don’t gate-keep the access, then we have to admit that, actually, it’s not a disease treatment; it’s actually something that many people find beneficial and some people don’t.”
“What is the commitment? Is the commitment to get psychedelic drugs accessible at all costs? And we’re going to lie, cheat, and steal our way to get there? Or is the commitment to trust that truth is the way? And if we just stick with the truth, that is how we change society?”
“I think you’re onto it. I mean, this is the key thing- psychedelics, in the best of contexts, is the pathway towards that. So why not study that? Why not research that? Why not invest the resources to exploring how we can create contexts for that which you’ve just described- create more spaces in society for successful encounters and engagements with openness, deeper relatedness, developing more trust, learning to communicate better, learning to form better community bonds, learning to develop our loyalties for each other, overcome our traumas together, tell our stories, overcome our shame, find ways that we can accept each other and support each other? That’s what we should be researching. That’s what we should be investigating, not psychedelic treatments that might have the effect of this, because this is what we’re really after.”
Will is a counselor and facilitator working with individuals, couples, families and groups via phone and web video (Zoom). He has taught and consulted on mental health, trauma, psychosis, medications, domestic violence, conflict resolution, and organizational development in more than 30 countries, and has been widely featured in the media for his advocacy efforts around mental health care. His work and learning arose from his experiences of recovery from madness, and today he is passionate about new visions of mind and what it means to be human.
In this episode, Joe interviews MD, attorney, host of the Plant Medicine podcast, and founder of the Psychedelic Medicine Association, Dr. Lynn Marie Morski.
She talks about her time working for the United States Department of Veteran Affairs and how her frustrations with not being able to recommend medicines she knew would help people led to her creating the Plant Medicine podcast, and how realizing that the podcast wasn't reaching enough doctors led to her creating the Psychedelic Medicine Association. She discusses their goal: to bring organizations, corporate entities, lawyers, and practitioners/therapists (really anyone in the medical field responsible for the wellbeing of another) together through forums and newsletters to bridge the enormous gap between those on the cutting edge of new medicines and modalities of healing and the more traditional doctors who don't know nearly enough about this emerging world.
She talks about her podcast and dedicating 4 full episodes to each drug, common misconceptions about doctors and healthcare, what it's like to be both a doctor and a lawyer, doctors who judge patients for using cannabis and the disservice that is, the complications of what comes after the FDA approves a drug, what’s necessary for getting psychedelics more into mainstream culture, and the silver lining that could come from COVID and COVID-related trauma.
“It should not be weighing job security vs. saving veterans’ lives, but that’s really the position a lot of us are put in, and I couldn’t take that anymore, and so I left the VA and made it my mission to undo the years of silence by speaking out a whole lot about it.”
“FDA approval, for example, of MDMA or psilocybin, is just step 1. What do you do when you’ve got a medicine now approved that doctors are afraid to recommend or prescribe because it came out of nowhere? They’re like, ‘Whoa, psychedelics were Schedule I and extremely dangerous and ‘Don’t do drugs!’ and now I’m supposed to be giving it to a patient?’ That is a barrier.”
“We’ve known about the 22 veteran suicides, and somehow, still, things haven’t gotten done in mental health. Maybe because, again, that’s ‘other.’ We have this whole issue with others, right? ‘That’s happening to these other people over here.’ The pandemic is one of the first things in... ever that has happened to everybody. It’s not ‘Oh, only the poor get this.’ Nope. Poor and rich. Tom Hanks got it right off the bat. Everybody’s getting it. Prime Ministers get it. And a lot of people are suffering the same mental health issues from the quarantine and so, it’s no longer where we can say ‘Oh, mental health struggles are for others.’ This has hit everybody. ...The suicide rate is rising for everybody. Mental health issues are rising for everybody. Is this the tipping point where the mental health system looks around and says ‘Ok, our tools aren’t sufficient. Can we start looking at these other modalities, including psychedelics, because we’ve got a second epidemic on our hands here?’”
“It should be absolutely crucial for anybody on the front lines of patient care to know at least the basics of these medicines. We’re not trying to get doctors to all want to do psychedelic medicine at all. That’s not our goal. If people learn about it and get excited and want to get trained and do that? Fantastic. But we just want a basic level of knowledge, and like you said, if just 20% of doctors knew, that’d be great. And then those doctors can talk to their colleagues in other areas. But that’s essentially the way that we’re impressing it on people: ‘This is coming. You, as a professional responsible for other people’s health need to educate yourself on this.’”
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Joe and Kyle switch things up and take a break from news stories. Instead, they interview therapist, host of the Madness Radio podcast, author of Outside Mental Health: Voices and Visions of Madness, and previous psychiatric patient diagnosed with schizophrenia, Will Hall.
Hall says a lot that will challenge your ideas about the power of psychedelics and the progress of psychedelic medicine. From the idea of either/or thinking creating a legal/illegal paradigm, to the basic limitations of science, to the the near religious worship of neuroscience, to William James' idea of "medical materialism" and reducing the complexities of the human mind to simple biology, he points out the various flaws in psychedelic medicine and how psychedelic crusaders have ignored placebo results and focused on the power of a drug or the numbers behind a study over the power of therapy, the benefits of community and the mystery of consciousness and its differentiation from science.
“If you end war-on-drugs prohibition in a context of heavily corrupted science, pharmaceutical company corruption, people that don’t have access to basic healthcare, they don’t have the basic context to be able to make smart choices, and you combine that with the profit motive in neoliberalism, then you’re going to have to really be very careful about how you do it, or else you’re going to have some very negative consequences. And this is a problem with any legalization.”
“We haven’t really had enough of a nuanced conversation about the war on drugs issue, because again, there has been such a strong-- I want to call it zealotry- this is an incredibly dedicated group of people who have been doing this for 30, 40, 50 years to get psychedelics into the hands of as many people as possible because they took LSD, they saw God, it saved their marriage, it completely revolutionized their trauma history- they’re true believers. And they’ve been pushing and pushing and pushing, but unfortunately, that doesn’t make for good public policy or good science if you’re just on a crusade. And I think that’s the big part of the problem that we’re facing right now.”
“Consciousness is like gravity. Consciousness is actually intrinsic to reality. Everything has consciousness. The more complicated the part of reality is (like, the human brain is very complicated), the more rich and complex consciousness becomes, and you get this self-awareness kind of thing. But the idea that consciousness is somehow located in the physiology of the brain and therefore ‘we’re going to study the physiology of the brain to explain consciousness’ is completely a leap of logic that has driven neuroscience for the last 40, 50 years since the real takeoff, and it’s been driven by pharma profits.”
“You can create all kinds of things just through suggestion, just through expectation, just through placebo, and yet in the psychedelic science research, all that’s kind of put aside and they’re playing the same neuroscience game of thinking that we are pursuing and understanding of the biology of consciousness, which we’re not. And of course, it’s a gold rush.”
“We’re trying to describe this incredibly rich mysterious thing- human consciousness. Nobody even knows how to define it. The people who have been studying it for decades can’t even settle on a definition. You settle on a definition of gravity. You can settle on a definition of chemical reactions, because that’s the nature of that kind of science, but this is a field of science- psychology, which is so mysterious and so complicated, they can’t even agree on what it is that they’re studying. And now we’ve gone from this model that’s basically a steam engine model- there’s chemicals that are going through and they’re connecting and they’re flowing in different places. And that’s sort of antiquated, so now we have a computer model, which is about circuitry, networks, connectivity, pathways, and it’s just another cartoonish metaphor for something that we fundamentally don’t understand.”
“The fact that the marvel and the awe of what human consciousness is, what the human experience is, what the mystery is, that is so awakened for many people when we have a psychedelic experience- your mind is blown by how incredible, awesome, beautiful the mystery is, and then to take that and then go into graduate school and cut up mice and have this cartoonish, mechanistic version of what that consciousness is, seems to me like a real betrayal of what I think is the best of the psychedelic experience.
“Under capitalism, under for-profit healthcare system, under corporate-driven science, science has become a politicized and profit-driven racket. All of those researchers are playing a game of ‘How do we get press releases that get media hits and clicks that’s going to help our grant possibilities?” and it always comes with ‘Well, we have this promising new discovery- the default mode network is a promising new discovery. We need more research about this.’ And what we need to do is we need to really really rethink our entire orientation to science in a capitalist society.”
“I think that once MDMA becomes available and more widespread, we’re going to see the efficacy go down. It’s not going to help everybody. It’s going to be another thing that some people try and some people, it helps them, but it didn’t really quite do it and then they have to kind of go back and they do more and then they lose the magic of the MDMA and then we’re back on the treadmill. We went from antidepressants to MDMA, and then what’s the next drug? There’s no drug solution to these problems, folks. We have to change our society. ...Until we actually look at social changes, we’re not ever really going to solve these so-called mental health problems. But that’s not the kind of thing you want to talk about at a MAPS-sponsored conference, because it’s a buzzkill. It just bums everybody out. People want to have their careers, they want to have their focus, their advocacy, their crusade, their excitement, and their community of other people who are excited.”
“I’m not sure that psychedelics should even be in the realm of medicine or science because of the way in which our society has so limited and made narrow those endeavors- the idea that medicine is separate from spirituality or that science is about reproducible results when the whole universe is based on uniqueness and novelty and the unexpected and synchronicity, I think that trying to squeeze them into those frameworks is not going to work.”