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Psychedelic drugs such as MDMA (AKA “Ecstacy”) LSD and Psilocybin (AKA “magic” mushrooms) are very likely going to be the next set of drugs after marijuana to be destigmatized and potentially legalized, not necessarily because people are “partying more”, but instead largely due to research going back to the 1950s which has shown that these drugs have a significant positive effect on those with depression, anxiety, and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Psychedelics are supposedly able to disintegrate entrenched or destructive ways of thinking in people who have depression, anxiety and PTSD. And brain imaging has indeed shown that in the brains of PTSD patients who took MDMA, their primitive fear center responses shrunk while their rational thought processes overrode them — the opposite of how their brains normally function.
Even Silicon Valley executives are now taking microdoses of LSD to enhance creativity and productivity (a typical dose of LSD – enough to make a person hallucinate or trip – about 10 micrograms of LSD, and a microdose is about 1/10 of that dose). Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), claims people who microdose feel more energetic and insightful but don't necessarily see the face of God inside their water coolers.
Just as with marijuana, I suspect we will continue to see the destigmatization of psychedelics if their proven health or cognitive benefits outweigh the prejudice against them. As more scientific data emerges on these drugs, they will probably become mainstream, if not for your average person, then definitely in a controlled, therapeutic setting by licensed professionals.
So if you're not in-the-know about psychedelics, you should be. Enter today's guest: Dr. William Richards.
Dr. Richards (Bill) is a psychologist in the Psychiatry Department of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Bayview Medical Center, where he and his colleagues have been pursuing research with psilocybin, the active molecule in the so-called “sacred mushrooms”, for the past 16 years. His graduate degrees include M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, S.T.M. from Andover-Newton Theological School and Ph.D. from Catholic University, as well as studies with Abraham Maslow at Brandeis University and with Hanscarl Leuner at Georg-August University in Göttingen, Germany, where his involvement with psychedelic research originated in 1963.
From 1967 to 1977, he pursued psychotherapy research with LSD, DPT, MDA and psilocybin at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, including protocols designed to investigate the promise of entheogens in the treatment of alcoholism, severe neuroses, narcotic addiction and the psychological distress associated with terminal cancer, and also their use in the training of religious and mental-health professionals. From 1977-1981, he was a member of the psychology faculty of Antioch University in Maryland.
His publications began in 1966 with “Implications of LSD and Experimental Mysticism,” coauthored with Walter Pahnke. His latest book, Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences has just been released by Columbia University Press, and is described as “the first well-documented, sophisticated account of the effect of psychedelics on biological processes, human consciousness, and revelatory religious experiences”.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-How Dr. Richards personally uses psilocybin and other psychedelic compounds in his own life…[6:00 & 28:20]
-Why is it that research into psychedelic drugs seems to be growing in popularity, and why it waned in the first place…[7:00 & 18:00]
-Whether wandering through a cow's field and picking mushrooms from dung is any different than what is being used in lab research…[22:50]
-What mushrooms have to do with sacred geometry, and why the kaleidoscope colors or visions one sees when on higher doses of psilocybin are related to these geometries…[41:50]
-Where you can “source” or grow your own psilocybin if you want to try it…[49:50]
-How you can combine psilocybin with other compounds to either increase or decrease their effect…[52:00]
-Psychedelics that Bill thinks “fly under the radar” but that more people should know about…[54:00]
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Dr. Richards or I? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!
Also published on Medium.