I’ve long advocated for the rational exploration of the psychological and spiritual benefits of psychedelics. I believe, as do many, that they have therapeutic potential unlike anything found in pharmacology today. Luckily, the medical research is catching up with us.
The medical journal Psychopharmacology has just published the results of a study at Johns Hopkins that explored the impact of psilocybin on a group of healthy, normal middle-aged adults, and there seems to be little room for interpretation. I am ecstatic that rational scientific inquiry is backing up what many have known for eons – that these are powerful chemicals that offer access to the subconscious and the Divine.
As I said, the results don’t seem to leave much room for doubt: a third of the participants in the study described the psilocybin experience as the single most significant experience of their lives and about three-quarters ranked it in the top 5.
And to think that I’ve been snickered at more than once in pleasant, educated company when suggesting it is no coincidence that many scientific and spiritual leaders say psychedelics played a key role in their own personal development.
I was seriously impressed by the mainstream media treatment of this too – Ron Winslow wrote a great piece for today’s Wall Street Journal and Maggie Fox’s Reuters piece is level-headed and rational. Writing about psychedelics sensibly is not a strength of the mainstream press – so here’s a well-deserved tip of the hat.
I know a lot of you are skeptical. You’ve been raised to think that LSD will make you jump out of buildings and mushrooms make you see things because there’s poison in them. But be skeptical of your skepticism. Psychedelics are powerful drugs that, if used properly, change lives and personalities for the better. Yet they’ve been relegated to the dust bin of illicit research, surrounded by lies, misinformation and rumor that serves no one except to bloat the budgets of the anti-drug warriors – who are blinded by lies themselves.
These drugs do not offer an escape from reality. On the contrary, they frequently catalyze powerful, head-on, overwhelming encounters with reality. And as you can imagine, this is not universally positive. Most people spend their entire lives shielding their psychospiritual eyes from reality – and for those who have long run away, having it unfold before them can be incredibly frightening and shake one to their core. When you’ve been sleeping soundly, it’s not much fun to have the lights turned on.
These medicines can also precipitate authentic, soul-shattering, direct experience of the Divine. Depending on your constitution, this can be as terrifying or as beautiful as anything that’s ever happened to you. But one thing is certain – no one leaves a full-blown psychedelic experience untouched.
Don’t take my passion for the power of psychedelics as a recommendation that everyone run out and use them. Many – perhaps most – probably should not. But there are significant numbers of people who could benefit considerably.
I hope this helps us re-explore the question of why our public policy can get so out of whack with the core ideals of justice. Should one really have to risk prison to explore their mind and soul?