Psychedelic agents or drugs, for example Lysergic Acid Diethylamide or LSD (a cereal fungus and first synthesized in 1938), were widely researched for their therapeutic potential through the 1950s. Among other noted users of these agents was the actor, Cary Grant. However, when these drugs escaped the research lab in the 1960s, moral panic set in. America's youth would, it was feared, "turn on, tune in and drop out" (a phrase popularized the Berkeley/Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary) and social upheaval would ensue. By 1970 LSD, psilocybin and other psychedelic agents were banned for both research and recreational use purposes. Beginning in the 1990s the FDA began giving limited approval to conduct psychedelic-related efficacy studies. Two decades later it appears the US has now, finally, turned the corner on researching the potential wide spread therapeutic benefits of psychedelics. This was again made evident last month when by Johns Hopkins announced opening its Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. This announcement was preceded in April by the Imperial College in London announcing the opening of its Centre for Psychedelic Research.
During this 26 minute interview, Dr. Doblin begins by describing what effect these agents have on the brain or what parts of the brain are stimulated to what effect. He discusses moreover his organization's MDMA (methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) research, currently a Phase 3 trial to study the effects on patients suffering from PTSD (oddly not supported by the DoD or VA), and a wide range of other current research efforts concerning treating, among other diagnoses, addiction, depression, eating disorders, phobias, OCD, schizophrenia and terminal illnesses. He also weighs in on the future legal status of these drugs, again currently illegal or banned as Schedule I controlled substances.
Rick Doblin, Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He received his doctorate in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where he wrote his dissertation on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics and marijuana and his Master's thesis on a survey of oncologists about smoked marijuana vs. the oral THC pill in nausea control for cancer patients. His undergraduate thesis at New College of Florida was a 25-year follow-up to the classic Good Friday Experiment, which evaluated the potential of psychedelic drugs to catalyze religious experiences. He also conducted a thirty-four year follow-up study to Timothy Leary's Concord Prison Experiment. Rick studied with Dr. Stanislav Grof and was among the first to be certified as a Holotropic Breathwork practitioner. His professional goal is to help develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana, primarily as prescription medicines but also for personal growth for otherwise healthy people, and eventually to become a legally licensed psychedelic therapist. He founded MAPS in 1986.
For information on MAPS go to: https://maps.org/.
Information on Michael Pollen's 2018 work noted during this discussion, How to Change Your Mind,What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying Addiction, Depression and Transcendence, go to: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/529343/how-to-change-your-mind-by-michael-pollan/.
For a recent personal account of a psychedelic experience, see, for example, Helen Joyce, "My Adventures in Psychedelia," at: https://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2019/10/my-adventures-in-psychedelia.html.