On Sunday, the Interdisciplinary Track features simultaneous presentations taking place in the Jr. Ballroom & Room 208.
Repositioning Psychedelics in the Public Mind
Brad Burge, Arianne Cohen, and Lakshmi Narayan
Psychedelics are being repositioned in the public mind. Unprecedented media coverage of breakthrough results and Psychedelic Science 2013 itself signal an increased public openness to the scientific, therapeutic, and spiritual uses of psychedelics. Instead of things to be feared and outlawed, they are being redefined as valuable scientific tools and, increasingly, as legitimate medicines and tools for the evolution of intelligence and consciousness. Drawing on our education and professional experiences in three different areas—media relations, graphic design, and journalism—we will explore the following questions:
This conversation will provide useful tools for anyone who talks about psychedelics in their professional or personal life—whether in the lab, on the news, or at the dinner table.
Brad Burge is Director of Communications for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He earned his B.A. in Communication and Psychology from Stanford University in 2005 and his M.A. in Communication from the University of California, San Diego in 2009. His graduate work focused on the political, scientific, and cultural changes required to make illicit drugs into legitimate medicines. In 2009, he presented his work on the history of the distinction between the recreational and medical use of drugs at the Critical Legal Studies conference at the University of Leicester in the UK. He has also interned for the Drug Policy Alliance and has a longstanding interest in drug policy reform and activism. He began working with MAPS as an intern in 2009, joining the staff in January 2011. Brad believes in the importance of communication for helping people develop honest and responsible relationships with themselves, each other, and their pharmacological tools. He lives in Santa Cruz, California.
Arianne Cohen is a writer, artist and journalist whose work on smart and boundary-pushing topics appears regularly in publications around the globe, including The New York Times, Elle, The Guardian, Vogue, Marie Claire, and many others. She is the author of The Tall Book: A Celebration of Life From On High, a narrative compendium of all things tall, as well as British, Italian and US editions of The Sex Diaries Project: What We're Saying About What We're Doing, a look behind bedroom doors around the globe (ariannecohen.com).
Lakshmi Narayan came to the USA from India in 1982 to pursue a Masters degree in Visual Communication at the University of Illinois. She currently lives in Santa Cruz, California, and has spent the last three decades helping companies large and small to identify, articulate, and enhance their presence in the marketplace through design of their brand and web and print materials. She believes in the power of word, image, and media as a force in conditioning culture, from Stone Age drawings on a cave wall to our present day plethora of communication tools and channels. The company she founded, Awake Media, is dedicated to using media to raise the collective consciousness.
Behavioral, Neurochemical, and Pharmaco-EEG Profiles of 2C-B in Rats
2C-B (4-bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenylethylamine) is a synthetic phenylethylamine, first synthesized by Alexander Shulgin in the 1970s. Shulgin also described its psychedelic and entactogenic properties in a human study for the first time; the compound later became popular as an adjunct to psychotherapy as well as a recreational drug. Even though 2C-B has gained its popularity over the decades we have had almost no knowledge about its pharmacology, potential toxicity, or safety until recently. We performed several preclinical experiments with this compound comparing them to the effects of well-known hallucinogens and MDMA (3,4-methylendioxymethamphetamine; ecstasy). In behavioral experiments, 2C-B shows a profile more similar to hallucinogenic compounds than to MDMA. Further behavioral studies with antagonists and agonists of various receptors showed its mechanism of action is related mainly to the activation of serotonin and dopamine systems. Our findings indicate that 2C-B is closely related to hallucinogenic drugs and also shares some of the effects of entactogens like MDMA. This work was supported by the projects VG20122015075, NT/13897, RVO-PCP/2012, and VG20122015080 (Czech Republic).
Tomas Palenicek completed his MD in 2001 and his PhD degree in neuroscience in 2009, both at 3rd medical faculty of Charles University in Prague. In 2001 he has started his scientific career as a researcher and psychiatrist at Prague Psychiatric Center. Since the beginning he was interested in the effects and neurobiology of psychedelics, new synthetic/designer drugs including 2C-B and in the neurobiology of schizophrenia. He was a principal investigator of 6 research projects and co-investigator of several others until recently. Initially his research was mainly in the preclinical field; however since 2010 he has started to conduct first clinical trials with ketamine in human volunteers in the Czech Republic. The last two years he is a principle investigator of the first human research project with psilocybin in human volunteers in his country. During the present time his scientific interest is in the quantitative analysis of EEG signal, especially on brain connectivity measures in psychedelics and schizophrenia. His work has been published in several peer reviewed journals and also awarded at several international conferences.
Sue Sisley, MD
Dr. Sisley will give an overview of MAPS’ planned study of smoked or vaporized marijuana for 50 US veterans with chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This placebo-controlled, triple-blind, randomized crossover pilot study is the first of its kind, and will investigate the safety and efficacy of marijuana for PTSD in veterans using four marijuana strains each with a different level of D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) along with a fifth strain containing equal amounts of THC (6%) and cannabidiol (CBD) (6%). PTSD symptoms will be compared across conditions during four weeks of self-administration to determine if strain potency or drug delivery method affects PTSD severity. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and University of Arizona’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) have accepted the protocol, the study remains blocked by the Drug Enforcement Administration and National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), which refuses to sell us any of its monopoly supply of marijuana (maps.org/research/mmj/).
Dr. Suzanne Sisley, MD has maintained a full-time telemedicine practice since 2009, where she employs a full array of telecommunications technology to deliver high-quality medical care to populations across rural and underserved areas of Arizona. Sue is an Institutional Member of the American Telemedicine Association and serves on the ATA’s Legislative and Policy Committee. Sue also serves as Clinical Faculty at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center at the MercyCare Adult Medicine Clinic for indigent patients. Dr. Sisley completed her medical degree at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and her five-year residency at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Internal Medicine and Psychiatry. Sue is also Founder and CEO of Ensuring Tomorrow Productions, a non-profit organization delivering health education through music, theater, and dance. Dr. Sisley has received many recent honors including the President's Point of Light Award and the Leo B. Hart Humanitarian Award from the University of Arizona. Dr. Sisley was also honored with the Arizona Medical Association's highest award, the President's Distinguished Service Award, as well as with the Hon Kachina Award, Arizona's most prestigious recognition for volunteerism.
Communicating the Unspeakable: Linguistic Phenomena in the Psychedelic Sphere
Psychedelics can enable a broad and paradoxical spectrum of linguistic phenomena, from the unspeakability of mystical experience to the eloquence of the songs of the shaman or curandera. Interior dialogues with the Other, whether framed as the voice of the Logos, an alien communication, or communion with ancestors and spirits, are relatively common. This research constructs a theoretical model of linguistic phenomena encountered in the psychedelic sphere for the interdisciplinary field of altered states of consciousness research (ASCR). The model is developed from a neurophenomenological perspective, which relates the physical and functional organization of the brain to the subjective reports of lived experience in altered states as mutually informative, without reducing consciousness to one or the other. The research presents case studies of individuals who have explored these linguistic phenomena in depth, examining the types of language formation, the uses to the individual of such symbolic systems, and their ideas as to the meaning of the phenomena. This work supports the idea that language and consciousness are co-evolutionary processes.
Diana Reed Slattery, PhD, is a novelist, scholar, psychonaut, and video performance artist. She completed her Ph.D. work in psychedelics and language in 2010 at the University of Plymouth, UK.
Results of the Long-Term Outcomes Study of Ibogaine Treatment in Mexico
Thomas Kingsley Brown, PhD
This presentation is an overview of the MAPS-funded study of long-term outcomes for ibogaine-assisted treatment of opiate dependence for patients at two clinics in Baja California, Mexico. Beginning in September of 2010, the study enrolled thirty US residents seeking ibogaine treatment for opiate dependence at the clinics. The study used the Addiction Severity Index to assess each subject’s severity of drug addiction at enrollment into the study and then monthly after treatment for twelve months. The 12-month follow-up of the 30th participant was completed in September of 2012, and currently the MAPS team is analyzing the data and preparing a manuscript for publication. In the presentation at this conference, the study protocol will be discussed in detail, and preliminary results will be discussed.
Tom Kingsley Brown, PhD started his research on ibogaine treatment in November of 2009 when he conducted interviews with ibogaine patients at ibogaine clinics in northern Baja California, Mexico and collected data for the purpose of studying changes in Quality of Life for those patients. His academic background is primarily in chemistry (B.S., University of Pittsburgh and M.S., California Institute of Technology) and anthropology (Ph.D., UCSD). He has long had an interest in altered states of consciousness and in life-changing experiences such as religious conversion. He is currently on staff at the University of California, San Diego and resides in San Diego with his partner and their two sons.
Learning from Listening: Qualitative Data in MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy Research
Ilsa Jerome, PhD
MAPS Research and Information Specialist Ilsa Jerome will speak about MAPS’ MDMA-assisted psychotherapy long-term follow-up questionnaire data, as well as plans for collecting qualitative information through interviews. She will also present on the challenges of collecting qualitative data and the tension between rich versus shareable data and the loss of meaning from over-quantification or idioscncrasy (e.g. language narratives).
Ilsa Jerome earned a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Maryland. She helps MAPS and researchers design studies, gathers information on study drugs (as MDMA) through keeping abreast of the current literature and discussion with other researchers, creates and maintains documents related to some MAPS–supported studies, and helps support the MAPS psychedelic literature bibliography. She has written informational documents on psilocybin, LSD and MDMA. She is interested in using methods from behavioral science and neuroscience to learn how humans feel and think about themselves and each other.
Notes on Progress in the New Zealand Ibogaine Study
Geoff Noller, PhD
This presentation reports on the first year of progress in the New Zealand observational study of ibogaine treatment outcomes for opioid-dependent persons. Current participants’ data are reviewed and the implications of New Zealand’s ibogaine legislation for research and treatment are discussed.
Dr. Geoff Noller has a background in social science and qualitative research. He commenced his PhD at Otago University’s Anthropology Department, completing his thesis (Cannabis in New Zealand) with the Otago University Medical School’s Department of Psychological Medicine in 2007.
Dr. Noller is an independent consultant specialising in substance use research, contracting to universities, government and the private sector. He has undertaken ethnographic fieldwork in New Zealand, Australia and the Caribbean, presenting his work at international conferences and symposia (Australia, Europe and the Caribbean) and national fora.
Currently Dr. Noller is involved in a number of research projects in New Zealand. These include the MAPS-sponsored Observational study of the long-term efficacy of ibogaine-assisted therapy in participants with opioid addiction, an evaluation of a rural mobile outreach service for injecting drug users and a national seroprevalence survey of injecting drug users.
The Varieties of Ketamine Experience
Phil Wolfson, MD
Unprecedented recent interest has arisen in the dissociative anesthetic drug ketamine as a novel antidepressant presumably acting through synaptogenesis, NMDA antagonism, and glutamate pathways. Mainstream journals such as Science, several clinical studies, and even a few psychiatric tabloids have touted its potential virtues and hazards and have established a basis for clinical use in the treatment of intractable depression. This presentation will share the results of a replication of the ketamine protocol historically employed by the National Institute of Mental Health and others for treatment of depression, in seven volunteers. Comparative data will be presented enabling a view of the drug’s potentialities for psychiatric/psychotherapeutic use across the dosage spectrum. With ketamine, the main effect is an ascending level of anesthesia with provocation of unique psychedelic effects in a range above the mild anesthesia of the IV infusion procedure, and continuing up to more profound anesthesia and loss of consciousness. Dosage by body weight does not necessarily coincide with psychedelic effect, this being a product of the specific sensitivity of the recipient and actual dosage administered. This presentation will include an open discussion of the effects of ketamine and different modes of delivery.
Phil Wolfson, PhD, is a sixties activist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, writer, practicing Buddhist, and psychonaut who has lived in the Bay Area for 35 years. He is the author of Noe: A Father/Son Song of Love, Life, Illness, and Death (North Atlantic Books, 2011). In the 1980s, he participated in clinical research with MDMA. He has written and had issued five patents for unique herbal medicines. Phil was a founding member of the Heffter Research Institute, and is a journalist and author of numerous articles on politics, transformation, psychedelics, consciousness, and spirit. He is also the editor of Consciousness Studies for Tikkun magazine.
The Neural Correlates of Altered Consciousness: From Hypnosis and Meditation to Drug-Based Changes
Amir Raz, MD
There has been growing interest in brain state specification because imaging studies can now trace brain connectivity at rest as well as during heightened activation. In this talk, we highlight recent research on differences among resting, alert, and altered states of consciousness. We explore the neural correlates of maintaining a state or switching between states, and show the neural elements that play a critical role in state maintenance (e.g., anterior cingulate cortex and striatum) relative to those involved in switching between states (e.g., insula). We then outline how brain states may serve as a predictor of performance in a variety of perceptual, memory, and problem solving tasks. We will provide a lens through which we can study both self-propelled states (e.g., hypnosis and meditation) as well as drug-induced states.
Amir Raz, MD, holds the Canada Research Chair in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Attention in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University, and heads both the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at McGill and the Clinical Neuroscience and Applied Cognition Laboratory at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH). He has peer-reviewed publications in such journals as Nature, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Psychological Science, Archives of General Psychiatry, PLoS Medicine, and NeuroImage. Professor Raz is a researcher at the JGH, a member of the faculty of McGill's Department of Psychiatry, and an associate member of the Departments of Neurology & Neurosurgery, Psychology, and the Montreal Neurological Institute. He holds diplomate status with the American Board of Psychological Hypnosis.
State of the Stone 2013: Drugs of the Future, Now
Earth and Fire Erowid
Where does science meet subculture? Earth and Fire will share their views on novel developments in the global underground recreational drug market as well as reflect on the state of the visionary sphere. Psychedelic subcultures have complex relationships to science, spirituality, media, and the Internet. With worldwide distribution of both thoughts and physical products now the norm, access to altered states of consciousness is at an all-time high. What is novel is not the discovery of any individual new psychoactive drug, but the rapid metamorphosis of products, packaging, and marketing. This fast-changing marketplace has given rise to the need for developing new techniques for transmitting not just information, but knowledge and wisdom. Where does the evolution of psychedelic knowledge go from here?
Fire Erowid is Executive Director of Erowid Center and Head Archivist of Erowid.org. She is the site's primary information architect, designer, and editor as well as responsible for fundraising and budget management. Fire has more than 12 years experience studying psychoactive plants and drugs. She has written hundreds of pages of information about these materials, authored numerous articles, spoken at academic and professional conferences, and her work has been cited by newspapers, education programs, college classes, and seminars around the world.
Earth Erowid is Erowid Center's Technical Director and the Chief Software Engineer of Erowid.org. He designs and implements the custom software systems necessary for managing the large flow of information through the site and is the lead editor responsible for scientific information published by Erowid. Earth has worked in the field of psychoactive information distribution for more than 12 years and has written extensively on the topic. He has co-authored academic posters, been published in both large and small publications, and been interviewed by major news organizations about his work.
Gaultheria Insipida: A Female Psychedelic Plant from the Andes
Leonardo Rodríguez Pérez
Gaultheria insipida is a plant native to the Andes used traditionally by female indigenous Inga healers near the Colombian Amazon to prepare a brew currently known as chichaja. This brew is an element that allows distinguishing a very original type of Colombian shamanism, but Gaultheria insipida has not yet been studied by psychedelic researchers. In this presentation, we argue that gaultheria insipida tends to modify the consciousness of female and male drinkers in different ways. We present data collected during ethnological fieldwork started two years ago, conducted in different parts of Colombia, particularly the west Amazon forest. This data includes statistical observations, the drinker’s gender, the time they drank chichaja, and the doses ingested. We also use six testimonials from chichaja drinkers to complement this quantitative information with qualitative analysis. Finally, we will present the first results of the pharmacological study on Gaultheria insipida which is being conducted by Energy Control (Barcelona, Spain). The active components of Gaultheria insipida are so far unknown for science.
Leonardo Rodríguez Pérez is a graduate of the Universidad Industrial de Santander (Bucaramanga, Colombia). He earned a Masters in History at Limoges University (2007), and a Masters in Foreign Societies and International Relations in Paris I (2008). For his PhD at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva), he is conducting a research project on the Colombian Indian movement from 1970-2000. As part of his interest in indigenous cultures, he carries out a research on Amazonian shamanism and has presented lectures in Canterbury (2011), Cottbus (2011), and Amsterdam (2012) on the subject.
Frank Echenhofer, PhD, Tara Samiy, PsyD & Matt Spalding, PsyD
Frank Echenhofer, PhD, is a Clinical Psychology professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. His research examines the role of visionary experience in the transformation of the sense of self and integrates neuroscience, clinical psychology, creativity, psychology of religion, sacred art, and spiritual approaches. He co-founded the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia and conducted the first EEG meditation research study with the Dalai Lama's guidance at his monastery in India. Since 2000 he has conducted research in Brazil and in Peru on the phenomenological, psychophysical, and spiritual changes occurring after the ingestion of ayahuasca. Frank is currently teaching a new experiential approach to facilitate healing and transformation that integrates sacred art and ritual practices, the essential core guiding principles distilled from comparative mysticism, and the application of modern understandings and methods developed in psychology, neuroscience, and other modern academic disciplines.
Matt Spalding, PsyD, is a psychologist and educator dedicated to bridging Eastern and Western approaches to mental health and general well-being. Dr. Spalding¹s psychotherapy practice is based in Mill Valley, Calif. He also teaches at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco and serves as an intern supervisor with the Community Institute for Psychotherapy (CIP) in San Rafael. He received his Doctorate of Psychology from CIIS and his Masters of Education from Harvard University.
Tara Samiy, PsyD earned her Doctorate of Psychology from the California Institute for Integral Studies (CIIS) in 2012. She received The Kranzke Scholarship for her dissertation research investigating through qualitative methods the experience of spontaneous dance/movement when facilitated by an entheogen. Psychedelic experiences in her early teens inspired her to study the psychopharmacology and therapeutic potentials of psychoactives while obtaining a B.S. in Psychobiology from UCLA. Her interests led to a coveted opportunity to work in Dr. Gaylord Ellison’s lab studying the behavioral and psychological effects of psychoactives. Beyond her undergraduate studies, Tara has also studied psychoactives in healing and religious experience. Alongside these interests, Tara's greatest passion is dancing.
Why People Climb Mountains
Altered states of consciousness have often been reported by adventure athletes such as rock climbers, trail runners, big-wave surfers, ski mountaineers, etc. Their challenges vary, but all show similar patterns of psychic response: their consciousness gets altered. We struggle to label those altered states with names like runner’s high, peak experience, or summit euphoria. And we take a stab at explaining them as adrenaline junkies or with beta-endorphin. Both of those popular ideas turn out to be wrong. What is it then? We noticed that their altered states all share many characteristics with the effects of psychedelic drugs. The challenging nature of their pursuits all share the qualities of seeking physiological stress under conditions of controlled fear. Anandamide is demonstrated to rise sharply in endurance athletes which makes a convincing case for a psychedelic explanation for the altered states experienced by adventure athletes.
Doug Robinson is a lifelong climber, ski mountaineer, trail runner and guide. His climbs have been chronicled in National Geographic and Sports Illustrated and on ABC Sports. He was instrumental in founding Outside Magazine, the American Mountain Guides Association and Patagonia. Now he tackles the age-old question of “Why?” His book answering that question, The Alchemy of Action, will be published this spring by MAPS.
The Phenomenology and Sequelae of MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy: A Pilot Study
Genesee Herzberg, PsyD
MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) has been used as an adjunct to psychotherapy since the 1970s. Psychotherapists and researchers involved in this work claim that the drug is uniquely suited to facilitate the therapeutic process. The current study contributes to the existing research through an exploration of the subjective experience of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and its impact on participants. Using a qualitative, quasi-phenomenological theoretical framework and a thematic analysis approach to analyzing the data, this study examines the reports of five individuals who underwent MDMA-assisted psychotherapy an average of five years before being interviewed. Many of the properties of the MDMA experience commonly described in the literature also emerged in this study’s results, including empathy, insight, acceptance, and openness. These findings, though tentative due to the small sample size of the study, point to the importance of attending carefully to issues around the “set and setting” or “frame” of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.
Genesee Herzberg received her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2012. She has a longtime interest in the healing potential of psychedelics, leading to her dissertation research on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. She is currently a psychotherapist specializing in trauma, existential crisis, and spiritual emergence with a practice in Berkeley, CA. She is also a Buddhist practitioner, and enjoys activities that bring one closer to one's true nature and to the earth.
Matthew Baggott, PhD
Matthew Baggott and colleagues have used machine learning techniques to classify written descriptions of psychedelics and to analyze the speech of volunteers in studies. This reveals consistencies in how we experience and remember altered states, and provides a promising way to study novel psychedelics.
Matthew Baggott is a neuroscientist who has been studying the perceptual and emotional effects of drugs like MDMA in healthy human volunteers for over 13 years. He was part of the first team to receive federal funding to administer MDMA to healthy people and he co-authored the first successful application to administer MDMA to people with PTSD. He earned a PhD in neuroscience from UC Berkeley and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at University of Chicago.
Creativity, Cosmology, and Communion: A Buddhist View on the Sacred Significance of Psychedelics
Based on the presenter’s 10 years of experience as a practicing Vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhist (the first four years free of psychedelic experiences and the last six fraught with them) as well as his experience as an architectural designer, teacher, and healer, this talk will explore the powerful nexus of creativity, cosmology, and psychedelic communion. In order to do so, the presenter will begin by unpacking the nature of creativity, then explore the two prevailing cosmological views of the universe, the traditional and the scientific. Ultimately, the goal of the talk will be to construct a powerful, life-enriching triad between (1) creative pursuits and vocation; (2) sacred outlook and daily spiritual/religious practices; and (3) occasional intentional psychedelic journeying for clearing, clarity, and resetting, a triad imbued with fulfillment, meaning, and full-person wellbeing.
Austin Hill Shaw is a Vajrayana Buddhist, architectural designer, Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner, and a mapmaker of creativity and the creative process. Austin is interested in exploring the peculiar ability of psychedelics to root out both the karmic challenges and opportunities of the individual who ingests them, and their powerful way of delivering messages that, when seen in the appropriate light, allow an individual to move forward in life with a deeper sense of meaning, purpose, and creative expression. Inspired by both his practices as meditator and his journeys as a psychonaut, he is the author of the Awakening Creativity series including Between the Bridge and the Water: Death, Rebirth, and Creative Awakening and The Shoreline of Wonder: On Being Creative. He resides in Berkeley, California with his wife Epiphany and their daughters, Sierra Lucia and Lorenza Delmar ().
Jeffrey Guss, MD
In 2008, the NYU Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Research Project began seeing individuals in a controlled trial of psilocybin-assisted therapy for existential anxiety due to cancer diagnosis. At the same time, we began a training program for study therapists. In this talk, Dr. Guss, the Director of Psychedelic Therapy training, will present the training program in detail, including the therapist dyad preparations sessions, didactic approaches, mentorship, and group process work evoking spiritual states through intentional methods. Adaptation to an academic context for psychedelic healing sessions will be discussed, as well as questions of adaptation to traditional methods of training in psychiatric settings. The need to define a template for training future clinicians to use psychedelic medicines will be explored, with the complex questions of therapist selection, supervision, and potential models for clinical practice.
Jeffrey Guss, MD is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. He is Co-Principal Investigator and Director of Psychedelic Psychotherapy for the NYU Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Research Project. He has recently published on the topics of gender and sexuality in Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society and Studies in Gender and Sexuality. Dr. Guss maintains a private practice of psychiatry in New York City, specializing in psychotherapy as well as the outpatient treatment of addictive disorders.
In Search of Entheogenic Molecules: Phytochemical Analysis from the DMT-Nexus
The DMT-Nexus conducts research to identify the relative abundance of dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and β-carboline alkaloids in plant material from around the world. Despite numerous published scientific papers and anecdotal reports indicating the presence of DMT in a wide variety of plants, there is much ambiguity, contradiction, and speculation regarding the actual chemical composition of many of these plants. Discussions of indigenous preparations, which include DMT-containing plants, often treat the phytochemistry of the β-carboline-containing plants as fairly uniform. However, new examinations of these plants, utilizing modern analytical techniques, have shown them to contain a variety of compounds in differing ratios.
The DMT-Nexus conducts research to identify the relative abundance of dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and β-carboline alkaloids in plant material from around the world. Despite numerous published scientific papers and anecdotal reports indicating the presence of DMT in a wide variety of plants, there is much ambiguity, contradiction, and speculation regarding the actual chemical composition of many of these plants. The DMT-Nexus has carried out unique chromatography and mass spectrometry analyses of specimens reported to contain DMT and β-carbolines, from both novel and previously examined species complexes. This research has elucidated questions and hypotheses regarding indigenous botanical preparations, the identities of plants found in the global market of entheogenic vendors, and the phytochemistry of plants that ethnobotanical researchers encounter in their own geographic regions. The significance of this research is that it presents the merging of traditional ethnobotanical knowledge into contemporary scientific contexts, while expanding our phytochemical knowledgebase.
David Nickles holds a BA in Anthropology and Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a moderator for the DMT-Nexus community, where he has been involved with projects including the DMT-Nexus Wiki, the Coalition for Entheogenic Liberty, and the publication of harm reduction literature. David is currently working with a group of other underground researchers on the Nexus’ Collaborative Research Project, which seeks to meticulously index and expand morphological, taxonomic, and phytochemical knowledge of the vines and admixture plants used in ayahuasca brews and other entheogenic preparations.
A Phenomenologically Grounded Ethnographic Study of the Life-World of Ecstasy Users
This is a phenomenologically grounded ethnographic study of the life-world of ecstasy users in the socio-cultural contexts of raving and clubs in Sydney, Australia. The thesis espouses existential-phenomenology as a framework for describing and understanding these experiences. I argue against and reject the widespread mechanistic-materialist paradigms that inform biomedical and biopsychological interpretations of drug use and non-ordinary states of consciousness. As an alternative, I draw on a holistic organismic approach and the application of phenomenology to ethnographic field research. Through this endeavour I also argue for a phenomenological foundation of the study of drug-use and non-ordinary states of consciousness in general.
As an alternative to these dominant reductionist perspectives I draw on a holistic organismic approach and the application of phenomenology to ethnographic field research. More specifically, my exploration of the experiences of ecstasy is based upon a dialogal phenomenology which enabled me to generate a processual morphology of the varieties of ecstasy experience and the users’ mode of being-in-the-world. Through this endeavour I also argue for a phenomenological foundation of the study of drug-use and non-ordinary states of consciousness in general. Read more in the book, The Varieties of Ecstasy Experience
Dr. Sean Leneghan completed a PhD in Anthropology at the University of Sydney in 2011. He continues to work and write on drug use, altered states of consciousness and establishing clinical trails with ecstasy in Australia.
Continuing Education (CE) credit is available for psychologists, social workers, MFTs, and nurses. More information is available at the Spiritual Competency Resource Center.