Psychedelic Medicine, Therapy and Science #3 - Social Anxiety Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-03-2019, 03:56 AM Thread Starter
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Psychedelic Medicine, Therapy and Science #3


Continuing this thread.
An interview with a psychedelic therapist with a lot of experience who also wrote a book. Podcast.


Episode Breakdown

  • the nuances of where trauma comes from
  • how psychedelic therapy heals trauma
  • developmental/attachment traumas are more insidious
  • regression and re-parenting during psychedelic experiences
  • the importance of having a sitter to do the deep healing work
  • psychedelics may or may not completely heal people from trauma
  • expansion; contraction
  • the importance of doing the shadow work outside of the psychedelic experiences as well
  • why and when to provide different psychedelics in therapy
    • MDMA therapy
      • contraindications to MDMA
      • dangers of constipation before MDMA?
    • LSD Therapy
    • Psilocybin Therapy
    • Cannabis as a psychedelic and an agent of therapy
    • combining MDMA and Psilocybin
    • combining MDMA and LSD
    • combining LSD and Psilocybin
  • what does the therapy look like before and after the journey
  • a list of who should NOT work with psychedelic therapy and why
  • a case for the value of pharmaceutical antidepressants
  • the complexities (and prevalence) of trauma from satanic ritual abuse
  • encounters with demonic forces during psychedelic therapy
  • the most important piece of advice for being a psychedelic sitter

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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-03-2019, 07:19 AM
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@Tuan Jie , Thanks for the link. Don't know if you pursue mindfulness, but this article explores how mindfulness augments the effectiveness of psychedelics. I meditate daily and find that it helps me to be aware of when my mind is taking me some place that will kill my mood. Mindfulness brings me back to appreciating what is going on in the present, obliterating the highway to hell of troubling thoughts.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-...silocybin.html

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-03-2019, 10:55 AM Thread Starter
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Hi @Erroll !
After my first experiences with ayahuasca, I started a daily meditation practice as a means to continue, strengthen and deepen the direction I found myself catapulted into. Like so many others, I echo that psychedelics and meditation/mindfulness are perfect companions. I can relate to the findings in the article. Cool study, thanks for sharing. I have the feeling you'd appreciate the deconstructing yourself podcast as well.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-23-2019, 10:46 AM Thread Starter
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Paul Stamets was on the Joe Rogan podcast. It was a blast, just like the first time. He had a lot of interesting stuff to say about psilocybine (in the US and Canada). If you want to skip the part about how he plans to address colony collapse disorder, it starts about here.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-24-2020, 03:24 PM Thread Starter
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A historic event happened just a couple of months ago; the announcement of the opening of the World's Largest Psychedelic Research Center, in Baltimore. Johns Hopkins Medicine will house the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research.

Among other things, researchers there will be investigating the effectiveness of psychedelics as a new therapy for opioid addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (formerly known as chronic Lyme disease), anorexia nervosa, and alcohol use in people with major depression. The researchers hope to create precision medicine treatments tailored to individual patient needs.

We're entering a new phase in psychedelic research. It's quite poetic this is happening in the country where Nixon threw away the baby with the bath water, after which the entire globe followed. So many lives could potentially be un****ed by these substances, it isn't even funny. This is extremely good news!

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-01-2020, 02:28 PM Thread Starter
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A phenomenal podcast about depression, the inner critic, addiction, psychedelics, legislation, meditation and emotional resilience. I don't think that in the hundreds of hours of listening to podcasts and audio books on the subject of psychedelics, I have heard a better description of what a psychedelic experience is like and why it's therapeutic potential is so high as from Tim Ferris. It's a real treat to hear this conversation between him and Peter Attia.

From Attia's website:
In this episode, Tim talks both experientially and from his own deep dive into the literature of psychedelics and mental health. Tim is shifting his focus from investing in startups to funding experiments that he hopes will establish more reliable knowledge and therapeutic options for those suffering from anxiety, depression, and addiction.
If this topic even remotely interests you, I can’t recommend Tim’s podcast with Michael Pollan, author of How to Change Your Mind, enough. (You should definitely read Pollan’s book as well.) Even if you’ve never had any exposure to psychedelics or their potential applications, I think you’ll find this subject matter really interesting, and I was very grateful for Tim to be so open and honest about his experiences.

Tim also shared his short list of acquired wisdom he returns to most reliably, which might be worth the price of admission alone.
We discuss:

Tim’s history of depression and his TED Talk on his close call with suicide;
The type of thinking that triggers Tim’s downward spirals;
Tim’s transformative experience with ayahuasca;
How Tim’s experience and research has led him to focus on furthering the science of psychedelics and mental health;
What some of the meditation modalities, and meditation apps, are out there, why can meditation be so hard to do, but also worthwhile to stick with;
Why Tim made a big commitment (more than $1 million) to funding scientific research, and to psilocybin and MDMA research, in particular;
From all the habits and tools that Tim has learned, the five things that he returns to most reliably; and
More.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-14-2020, 10:27 AM Thread Starter
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This is WILD. Very much like some of my experiences with ayahuasca.

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened -- as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding -- she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.


My stroke of insight | Jill Bolte Taylor


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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-18-2020, 03:17 AM Thread Starter
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@Scorpius
A bit about neuroplasticity. What neuroplasticity means for a person has been captured nicely by Gandhi.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”

For people who suffer from anxiety and/or depression, their mind is like a bad neighborhood or a torture chamber. On a neurological level, both modes have been associated with an overactive default-mode-network (DMN). The DMN is active when you're not engaging in a task, when you're "selfing". Recent studies on psychedelics suggest that the DMN is the neurological equivalent of the ego. Psychedelics suppress it, which can result in a change in identification from the ego to awareness. An expansive sense of self, up to the point of being one with nature, the universe or God. The level of mystical experience during a trip has been teased out as the most important variable for a positive outcome with regards to a variety of what we call mental illnesses. There is much overlap with meditation. Meditation is the practice of identification with the witness, of expanding your sense of self and creating space between experience and action. A bit narrow, but alright for this topic.

I mention meditation because the Gandhi quote isn't workable if you identify with your thoughts. If the trance of identification with the ego is complete. A certain level of mindfulness is necessary. Becoming aware is half the challenge. Whenever I catch myself wandering down the bad neighborhood, I remind myself that this is a thought, not reality. In the case of difficult emotions, they are just that. My mind's chatter on top of that is not helpful. Buddha is supposed to have said that the first arrow is the pain thrown by life, and the second arrow is you fighting what is. This is the difference between pain and suffering. One is inevitable, the other is habitual.

You could also say that scripts get activated in our brain and those scripts can be up- or down regulated. We get locked in grooves that are deep. When you are mindful of what happens, you can pick up the needle and start a more constructive groove. It'll deepen over time. We are creatures of habit, which can be used in your favor. Forming positive habits and interrupting your DMN with usefull stuff works very well for me. I just stop feeding the monster whenever I become aware that I'm doing so. Neurons that fire together, wire together. So whatever you feed gets up regulated when you do it on a consistent basis. That's why the number of depressions you had is a predictor for the risk of getting another one. Thick cables, deep grooves. Not destiny though. That's why neuroplasticity is awesome. Neurologically this is literally rewiring the brain. The brain that changes itself. Certain things can increase neuroplasticity. Psychedelics, exercise, certain supplements. I throw everything at, probably resulting in a synergistic effect.

I practice meditation daily and I've been binge listening to constructive podcasts and audio books for a couple of years. I started at rock bottom, now my life has gotten much better than ever. Combined with psychedelics and some other stuff, I've found this to be very successful. I refrain from recommending psychedelics, but I do think something in the vein of the other things I described is essential if you want to avoid ending up in that torture chamber for the rest of your days. Not saying this is the whole story, yet vital.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 08:34 AM Thread Starter
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Me, myself, bye: regional alterations in glutamate and the experience of ego dissolution with psilocybin

Abstract

There is growing interest in the therapeutic utility of psychedelic substances, like psilocybin, for disorders characterized by distortions of the self-experience, like depression. Accumulating preclinical evidence emphasizes the role of the glutamate system in the acute action of the drug on brain and behavior; however this has never been tested in humans. Following a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group design, we utilized an ultra-high field multimodal brain imaging approach and demonstrated that psilocybin (0.17 mg/kg) induced region-dependent alterations in glutamate, which predicted distortions in the subjective experience of one’s self (ego dissolution). Whereas higher levels of medial prefrontal cortical glutamate were associated with negatively experienced ego dissolution, lower levels in hippocampal glutamate were associated with positively experienced ego dissolution. Such findings provide further insights into the underlying neurobiological mechanisms of the psychedelic, as well as the baseline, state. Importantly, they may also provide a neurochemical basis for therapeutic effects as witnessed in ongoing clinical trials.


https://www.nature.com/articles/s413...-0718-8#MOESM1

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-02-2020, 01:07 AM
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Thanks for this thread, the brain stuff - esp. DMN as neurological correlate of "ego" is particularly interesting. I have never taken any psychedelics, so this is all intellectual understanding, plus my personal research and experiences on the spiritual side of things.

A possible link between psychedelics and Buddhism



I saw this video a while back and was immediately struck by the part about drug-induced hallucinations of seeing dry surfaces as wet, and inanimate objects as breathing, etc. That can be considered a subjective experience of disproving the existence of svabhava, which is one of the central ideas in Buddhism and ancient Indian philosophy.

Svabhava translates loosely as "nature, essence, or substance", although my understanding is that it corresponds most closely to the "form" of things as we perceive them through our senses. We perceive things to have intrinsic properties that are inseparable from their being - e.g. heat as the svabhava of fire.

Buddhism uses pure logic, and practices such as meditation, to help us see that such properties do not exist "from their own side" (i.e. noumenally), that everything is our own illusions or mental concepts, no matter how real they appear to us. Hence if drugs can make you see things as polar opposite in nature to their commonly believed svabhava (e.g. seeing dry objects as wet), they could well catalyse the grasping of Buddhist truths.

I suspect that some recreational drug users experience a state during their drug trips that is equal to "spiritual enlightenment" in Buddhism (and there are multiple possible levels of enlightenment). The difference is that drug users lack the years of systematic learnings and proper guidance to process or understand what they are experiencing, as well as how to integrate it into their normal lives, unlike religious neophytes. Maybe that causes some problems and/or "bad trips" for people, idk.

The video singles out LSD and psilocybins, but I imagine other substances (even hard drugs such a heroin) might do a similar thing - broadly, alter your perception of the world in such a way as to experience some deeper reality that your entrenched ego has prevented you from seeing. But ofc hard drugs do other kinds of harm to the body, and tolerance and withdrawal are major problems. I am not advocating for drug use, but I think most people may be mistaken as to where the problems actually lie.

From time to time I browse the r/Psychonaut subreddit, and the spiritual insights that people gleam from drug use is amazing to me. For example, people regularly report experiencing "ego death" during trips (which is also a feature of spiritual enlightenment; "ego" is the svabhava of a person). And the recognition that what we call "God" or Oneness with the Universe is the non-egoic consciousness.

It seems to me one of the biggest problems right now is that the people who are on the research side (medical professionals, therapists, scientists/philosophers, academics) do not always have the inner subjective experience, whereas those who do (spiritual/religious personnel and psychonauts) lack the intellectual knowledge or credence. Not to mention the diverse terminologies. Would be nice to see more people trying to bridge this interdisciplinary gap.

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-30-2020, 07:14 AM Thread Starter
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‘A Hail Mary’: Psychedelic Therapy Draws Veterans to Jungle Retreats


Ayahuasca, a vomit-inducing hallucinogenic brew, draws thousands of people each year — including former soldiers — to jungle retreats that have become an unlicensed and unregulated mental health marketplace.


Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/30/w...gtype=Homepage

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-30-2020, 10:51 AM Thread Starter
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@bad baby
Me showing up so late isn't helping to lift this thread out of monologism, lol. Sorry about that.

Nice take on how one can arrive at the Buddhist truths via psychedelic experiences. I can relate. Reality is like a diamond, of which every perceiver sees another facet. Wearing other glasses to view the world through sure helps to experience your own relative perspective. In my experience, a psychedelic experience can go deeper though. It happens when the ego itself starts to dissolve. At this point a profound shift in identity can happen. That's about as "Anatta" as it get's, I think. I've heard quite a few people tell about this happening to them via extreme trauma as well and for some it even happened out of the blue (See Buddha at the Gas Pump for plenty). Most seem to have been doing spiritual practices for a significant period though.

The self is the primary thought around which all the others revolve. So ingrained that it's never questioned by most. It's the ultimate illusion, already pierced by science and Buddhism before that. Experientially via this route. A transcendent experience is the polar opposite of youness. It's selfless. As I understand it, enlightenment is the absence of identification with the self. It's beingness. No self, no problem. That is what happens during a mystical type (psychedelic) experience. Everything just is. No one with, but only oneness. Not even that. The neurological explanation and the spiritual explanation are just two facets of this diamond in my book.

I do think it would have great benefit to enter these kinds of experiences with a proper framework, especially with regards to integration, which is where 99% of the work is at. It doesn't work to copy paste culturally alien practices like the Shipibo use. I'm confident we'll come up with our own equivalents in the West and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of that will be derived from Buddhism since it fills a spiritual gap over here anyway. They use ACT in combination with psilocybin at Imperial College, for instance (in this or a prior thread somewhere). The introduction of ACT is very interesting in it's own right, since it's not based on strengthening the ego, as the vast majority of Western psychological approaches is. I'm optimistic about where this is going. I have a hunch that a lot of people end up at the academic side do so after personal psychedelic experiences. It may still not be good for your career to talk about it though.

Also, a psychedelic experience is temporary. Many people fall back into their old ways. After roughly one year, most appear to be back at square one. Lasting change takes commitment, maintenance. I'd like to see this addressed by integrating daily DMN undermining practices in psychedelic assisted psychotherapy, preferably group oriented. At least meditation should be an integral part of the approach and the importance of it can't be overstated. It's how people been arriving at these experiences for thousands of years without psychedelics. Jaw dropping!

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-30-2020, 11:08 AM Thread Starter
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@bad baby
In case you're not familiar with the good friday experiment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsh_Chapel_Experiment

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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-04-2020, 01:58 PM
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@Tuan Jie

My turn to apologise. I never check notifications so I didn't notice you replied, but I was thinking about psychedelics more and wanted to add to this thread.

Buddhism actually explicitly prohibits the use of any mind-altering substances - not because they are "immoral" or anything like that, but simply because we still don't fully understand the ways in which they affect us neurologically. They might take us closer to "true reality" (or enlightenment if you may), or they might be taking us further away in some unknown direction. Even if they do clear the fog from our eyes, we might still have some residual world view and ideas that might cause us to wrongly interpret what we are seeing during an acid trip. So that's why all religions are holistic systems.

Personally I'm quite sympathetic towards the use of psychelics as alleviation for mental or physical ailments. At least until we find a better alternative. You are right in that their effect is not permanent. It reminded me of Ram Dass (one of the Marsh Chapel researchers!), who got into spirituality after his psychedelics research led him to take higher and higher doses for longer and longer periods trying to maintain the effects. But then he realised that no matter how long and how high he got, eventually he still had to come back down.

I'm in agreement with the 1960s/70s researchers in that I think the drugs can be a gateway. A gateway into showing us what's possible. Thousands of years ago in ancient times people believed in Jesus who could walk on water, heal people, turn water into wine, etc. The point is not whether or not he actually did these things and whether there was proof. That's not the important part. What's important is that people's belief in these acts opened their minds to the possibility that maybe what they saw/understood of their everyday material world isn't the be-all end-all. That's why most religions are so fantastical and logic-defying. It's not about the contents of what they teach, it's about what they're designed to accomplish.

In modern times we are all too self-satisfied that our scientific understanding of the world is The Truth. I'm over-generalising a bit here, but mental illness might be the unpleasant side-effect of this. New-agers have a lot of wrong ideas and misunderstandings about the world, they are not good role models by any stretch, but they have this openness quality that the ancients had, that we have now lost. We look at them and think they are so ignorant, so primitive, but we are only seeing half the story. There's another half, the more important half where the crux resides.

And by that I don't mean some distant magical land in the sky or whatever. That's all metaphor. This reality this world that we live in, the diamond like you said, there are different - transcendental - ways of viewing it. I think you are right about that ego stuff, but we have to approach it slowly I think, otherwise we might get ahead of ourselves.

AFAIK There are many different stages of Awakening. In the beginning of meditation training, from what I understand, you actually increase your subjective distance from the world - in that sense you strengthen the ego a bit, until you hit a critical mass and it collapses into non-duality or no-observer. I think maybe as you try to get rid of the Ego, it will fight harder to try to stay alive. I mean this is all highly speculative and I'm just throwing out possibilities. I might well be wrong, and in that case I will come back and update this and make corrections.

But my point is that this all resembles accounts you hear about people who have suffer from intense depression/anxiety until at some point their DMN overloads and "crashes" and they become so-called enlightened. I think that's what depression and other mental illnesses are trying to do to us. Only we are not aware of it, we think it's something bad and maybe we don't have the tools to take us to the destination. So we end up trapped in the illness and "falling into the Pit of the Void" as they call it.

Anyway, this is getting really off-topic wr/t your thread and I apologise. But I feel like we are really talking about (or at least looking at) the same thing. In modern society there is a stigma against substances, and there is stigma against religions and so-called superstitions. But I think they can both be useful, if we go about leveraging them wisely.

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