It's time to add nuance to the conversation
It sure will be interesting to see where things will go. Important with that honest and critical (and compassionate) lense on everything it seems where humans are involved.
thank you for your thoughtful piece. psychedelics probably won’t save the world, but they are helping some people become better people. so the born again tripper has a new identity; is it worse for him than the previous one? changing demographics and marijuana legislation point to likely continued decriminalization. let’s just hope corporate doesn’t ruin it by buying off our legislators, and therefore all rights, in the process.
This is a really excellent piece that deserves to be widely read. I did some work with a few of the main players in the psychedelic pharma space over the last few years, and rapidly became very concerned about their approach, intentions and the effects of the commercial context they are operating in. You have summarized those concerns very eloquently here. Western culture has no existing framework for integrating these compounds successfully, and the medical/capitalist/godknowswhatist ones emerging have many serious shortcomings, not to mention frighteningly dystopian possibilities. Never mind the right to supply, who has the right to administer? How do we ensure the right people have their hands on the tiller? There needs to be a serious conversation about this, and your article makes a great contribution to it. Thanks for writing it, I really enjoyed it. Subscribed! x
This article captures my thought exactly. Well written!
When I virtually attended the first Sana Symposium I was struck by Rick Dobin and his commitment to the integrity of MDMA research. He is peerless. I loved seeing the photo of the two of you in the article.
That symposium introduced me to the research and therapeutic world of psychedelics, but there were some strange promotional aspects if I remember correctly: biotech and IT firms that were vague about their structures and purposes which were lining up to be on the front lines of psychedelic medicine. I found this very unsettling. One was offering an app to monitor moods and insights as an adjunct to experience. Replacing therapy, I supposed at the time.
I also looked into becoming a provider for services but found a certain vibe at one of the institutes (not associated with Rick’s work) to be less than forthcoming about what exactly their certificate meant. Very expensive for unknown gain.
Following the psychiatric literature has been interesting, and many do not buy into psychedelics without data. I am glad. Ketamine, for example, is trying to be a psychedelic experience and receive the same glow, but I don’t think it has that utility. Pharma will exploit compounds, as you point out, and it worries me, too. When the model that was quietly pursued for years produced such beautiful results, it feels like a transgression.
Thank you, Pat!
I stumbled on a comment you wrote that simply said “I published my first post this week” and had no idea it’d be this informative and on a subject that means a whole lot to me.
This is a great article. How often do you plan to publish on Substack?
Thank you for writing this Pat. You speak so clearly here of the struggle of ego... which is an eternal human problem There are no perfect humans, and it is exceptionally rare and difficult at any time in history to find any leader ... who has ever achieved this, and the ones who (allegedly) did have founded religions but rarely wielded political power in their lifetimes. In our time, only the Dalai Lama arguably meets this standard, and I think it is worth nothing that ... even he has to make decisions and compromises that are incredibly difficult, not least because he is the de facto leader of a people and nation in exile. Spiritual authority...is a huge responsibility, and
When the Dalai Lama was asked about psychedelics, he said that we already have enough illusory experiences, why do we need to add more? :) Always a good perspective to add
Thanks so much Pat, for writing such courageous and important words. I am a psychedelic therapist working mainly underground in Vancouver, Canada which is becoming a hub for psychedelics due to our relaxed and open legal landscape. I spent years working with Big Pharma so I am acutely aware of the dangers there. I also have a phD from UC Berkeley (pre-med Neurosciences) and am a 30 year meditator, so my background allows me to dive into both the mystical/spiritual and the medical nuances of how these medicines work. I am endlessly stunned at how quickly these medicines can heal people (including myself) however I'm increasingly concerned regarding how we can 'integrate' these beautiful altered states into our not-so-beautiful lives. Doing a medicine journey is the easy part. Coming back into our lives afterwards is the truly hard work. It's not simple, easy and nobody has figured this out yet. I know so many people awash trying to integrate their amazing psychedelic experiences into their challenging lives. I know there is a way, however nobody has this sorted yet. So, meantime let's keep mindfully and honestly exploring these medicines because they aren't going away. Increasing numbers of mainstream folks are reaching out for them. All of us who are working in the psychedelic space right now need to collaborate and share data, underground or legal, medical or hippy woo-woo. We are all on the same team so we really need to reach out to each other for mutual support and understanding. There is no room for competition, greed, judgement, manipulation or dishonestly in this space because these substances are just too powerful. Let's keep each other honest. Let's keep each other accountable. Let's questions each other. Let's keep each other in check. Let's be brave enough to speak out when things don't feel right. We must join forces for good in this space. We are working with Kryptonite people, let's step up and behave accordingly!
I am so glad you are writing, Pat. Nuance is such a key word here. Complex complex complex. Beyond the mind. Experiences we then try to analyze, make sense of.... I have been sorting through many of the same things. The times I have ventured into the "psychedelic space" have been jostling - l feel like I am back in the corporate world having to fight for a voice or be lost entirely. The medicine is clear in its messages to me that time alone watching spring emerge and supporting the people who come my way is my best work. Trying to "build" is not the answer. So much to say! Excited to read more from you this is great thinking.
Pat, I left a long comment but the program didn’t keep it because I hadn’t yet set up an account. No time to rewrite it. Sorry.