“Psychedelics, used responsibly and with proper caution, would be for psychiatry what the microscope is for biology and medicine or the telescope is for astronomy.” – Stanislav Grof
This might be the most important podcast episode I’ve put out in the last two years. Please trust me and give it a full listen. It will surprise you, perhaps shock you, and definitely make you think differently.
Michael Pollan (@michaelpollan) is the author of seven previous books, including Cooked, Food Rules, In Defense of Food, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and The Botany of Desire, all of which were New York Times bestsellers. A longtime contributor to the New York Times Magazine, he also teaches writing at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley where he is the John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Science Journalism. In 2010, TIME magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
His most recent book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, might be my favorite yet. This is the first podcast interview Michael has done about the book, the science and applications of psychedelics, his exploration, and his own experiences. It is a wild ride.
In fact, partially due to this book, I am committing a million dollars over the next few years to support the scientific study of psychedelic compounds. This is by far the largest commitment to research and nonprofits I’ve ever made, and if you’d like to join me in supporting this research, please check out tim.blog/science.
In our wide-ranging conversation, we cover many things, including:
- The fundamentals of “psychedelics,” what the term means, and what compounds like psilocybin, mescaline, and others have in common.
- New insights related to treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, alcohol/nicotine dependence, OCD, PTSD, and more.
- Recent scientific and clinical discussions of a “grand unified theory of mental illness.”
- Potential applications and risks of psychedelics.
- Michael’s own experiences — which he did not initially intend on having — and what he’s learned from them.
- The “entropic brain,” and why there might be a therapeutic sweet spot between mental order and chaos.
- Why researchers at Johns Hopkins, NYU, Yale, and elsewhere are dedicating resources to understanding these compounds.
- And much, much more…
The molecules discussed in this episode — and some incredible clinical results from well-designed studies — have absolutely captured my attention over the last two years. After wading in and supporting smaller studies, I’ve decided to go all-in on scientists exploring this area. It seems to be an Archimedes lever for potentially solving a wide range of root-cause problems, instead of playing whack-a-mole with symptoms one by one.
This episode will explain why I’m so excited.
Now, all of my preamble out of the way, grab a cup of coffee and settle in!
I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.
- Listen to it on Apple Podcasts.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
Want to hear another podcast discussing psychedelics? — Listen to my conversation with James Fadiman, who has been called “America’s wisest and most respected authority on psychedelics and their use.” Stream below or right-click here to download.
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
Selected Links from the Episode
- Connect with Michael Pollan:
- How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan
- The New Science of Psychedelics by Michael Pollan, The Wall Street Journal
- Express Your Interest in Supporting Psychedelic Scientific Research and Development
- The Intelligent Plant by Michael Pollan, The New Yorker
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
- In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan
- Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan
- Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
- Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education by Michael Pollan
- The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan
- The Trip Treatment by Michael Pollan, The New Yorker
- Do Psychedelics Expand the Mind by Reducing Brain Activity? by Adam Halberstadt and Mark Geyer, Scientific American
- The Life-Changing Magic of Mushrooms by Olga Khazan, The Atlantic
- I Took a Psychedelic Drug for My Cancer Anxiety. It Changed My Life by Dinah Bazer, Time
- Psycholytic and Psychedelic Therapy Research 1931-1995: A Complete International Bibliography compiled by Torsten Passie
- Psychotomimetic Effects of PCP, LSD, and Ecstasy: Pharmacological Models of Schizophrenia? by Vibeke Sorensen Catts and Stanley V. Catts
- Psychedelics: Lifting the Veil by Robin Carhart-Harris, TEDxWarwick
- Marcus Raichle on the Default Mode Network, VPRO Labyrint TV
- fMRI Brain Imaging: Classic Hallucinogens vs. Mindfulness Meditation by Gary Weber, Science and Nonduality Conference 2012
- Connectome-Harmonic Decomposition of Human Brain Activity Reveals Dynamical Repertoire Re-organization under LSD by Selen Atasoy et al., Scientific Reports
- Magic Mushrooms Transform Brain Into New Hyperconnected State by Stephen Morgan, Digital Journal (contains image discussed)
- Human Connectome Project
- Psilocybin Can Occasion Mystical-Type Experiences Having Substantial and Sustained Personal Meaning and Spiritual Significance by R.R. Griffiths et al., Psychopharmacology
- The Big Five Personality Traits and What They Mean to Psychologists by Robby Berman, Big Think
- Long-Term Follow-Up of Psilocybin-Facilitated Smoking Cessation by Matthew W. Johnson et al., The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), The Mayo Clinic
- Ibogaine Therapy for Drug Addiction, MAPS
- A Double-Blind Trial of Psilocybin-Assisted Treatment of Alcohol Dependence, New York University School of Medicine
- Psilocybin with Psychological Support for Treatment-Resistant Depression: Six-Month Follow-Up by R.L. Carhart-Harris et al., Psychopharmacology
- FDA Grants Breakthrough Therapy Designation for MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD, MAPS
- LSD and Bill Wilson, the Co-Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous
- LSD Could Help Alcoholics Stop Drinking, AA Founder Believed by Amelia Hill, The Guardian
- How Ken Kesey’s LSD-Fuelled Bus Trip Created the Psychedelic ’60s by Edward Helmore, The Guardian
- The Time and Life Acid Trip: How Henry R. Luce and Clare Boothe Luce Helped Turn America On to LSD by Jack Shafer, Slate
- Seeking the Magic Mushroom by R. Gordon Wasson, Life
- Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)
- Can Psychedelic Trips Cure PTSD and Other Maladies? by Tom Shroder, The Washington Post
- The Entropic Brain: A Theory of Conscious States Informed by Neuroimaging Research with Psychedelic Drugs by Robin L. Carhart-Harris et al., Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
- What Is the Difference between 5-MeO DMT and DMT? Choosing a DMT Therapy by Roger R., Psychedelic Times
- Do Psychedelics Trigger Neurogenesis? Here’s What We Know. by Thomas Varley, Psymposia
- The Cuyahoga River Fire of 1969 by Michael Rotman, Cleveland Historical
- Eleusinian Mysteries, Encyclopaedia Britannica
- Dispelling the misconception of Michael Pollan as a “food” writer and understanding how the new book fits into the larger narrative of his work. [08:33]
- There’s not a culture on earth that doesn’t use some plant or fungi to change consciousness — with one noticeable exception. [11:14]
- What prompted Michael’s first foray into understanding psychedelics? [12:28]
- What are psychedelics, and how do they differ from psychotomimetics and psycholytics? [17:12]
- Why did Michael dedicate his latest book to his father? [20:47]
- How Michael’s own psychedelic experiences helped him care for his terminally ill father and prepare for his eventual death. [22:40]
- As a journalist, what was Michael most skeptical of when he first started researching psychedelics? [25:12]
- What we currently know (or suspect) about the neuroscience behind the effects of psychedelic compounds. [30:57]
- Examining the Default Mode Network. [35:06]
- Meditation, psychedelics, and fasting as alternate modalities for shutting off or quieting the Default Mode Network. [40:01]
- Mapping connectomes and the unexpected detours the brain creates in the absence of the Default Mode Network’s control. [40:55]
- Mystical experiences, changing personalities, and smoking cessation: what psychedelics studies have been most memorable or surprising for Michael? [43:33]
- Cementing profound convictions from otherwise obvious banalities (aka “duh” moments). [50:10]
- Psychedelic applications Michael finds most promising. [52:25]
- Is treating addiction with psychedelics just trading out one fixation for another? [57:21]
- Why have psychedelic compounds been unavailable for medical trials for so long? [1:00:51]
- Is it too simple to blame Timothy Leary? The psychedelic researcher’s occupational hazard of irrational exuberance. [1:01:25]
- A searing rite of passage: the unique generation gap created by LSD in the ’60s. [1:03:36]
- Could we see a cultural backlash remove psychedelics from academics once again? [1:08:36]
- Does Michael think certain politicians trying to ban psychedelic research — especially when it helps veterans with PTSD — would suffer political repurcussions in the current climate? [1:10:59]
- What are the risks of these psychedelic compounds? [1:13:58]
- How Dr. Andrew Weil successfully rescued patients from their bad acid trips at the Haight-Ashbury free clinic in 1968. [1:16:40]
- An appeal to lawmakers to consider the benefits of psychedelics that outweigh the risks — especially when compared to many of the dangerous drugs that are FDA approved. [1:18:48]
- Are we close to a grand unified theory of mental illness? [1:24:00]
- The entropic brain. [1:27:09]
- Why do some of these compounds seem to have a long-term effect that far exceeds its presence in the body? [1:30:22]
- How guidance can help someone make better sense of their experience — and reinforce progress that might be made. [1:33:44]
- Themes, images, and insights: Michael’s most meaningful experience. [1:35:03]
- Having a bad time? Remember your flight instructions. [1:40:06]
- A cameo appearance by Maria Sabina. [1:41:49]
- Losing sense of self (ego dissolution). [1:42:57]
- Music you like makes the world better no matter what reality you’re experiencing. [1:45:11]
- A powerful lesson in the role of ego. [1:46:24]
- How does Michael think psychedelics might help us solve what he believes to be society’s biggest problems? [1:51:41]
- How might we gently caution overenthusiastic psychedelic proponents away from messing things up for the rest of us (again)? [1:54:31]
- The betterment of well people. [1:59:14]
- The cultural container for psychedelics that worked for the ancient Greeks. [1:59:50]
- Remaining cautiously optimistic. [2:02:12]
- Just one example of criminalization impeding valid therapy. [2:02:34]
- Michael’s book covers a critical subject at a critical time — do yourself a favor and read it even if you have zero interest in consuming psychedelics yourself. [2:03:54]
- Michael’s parting thoughts. [2:05:39]
- Stanislav Grof
- Matt Mullenweg
- Tony Conrad
- Henry David Thoreau
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
- John Muir
- Aldous Huxley
- Dinah Bazer
- Humphry Osmond
- Stephen M. Pollan
- Robin Carhart-Harris
- Marcus Raichle
- Roland Griffiths
- Walt Whitman
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson
- Matthew W. Johnson
- Bill Wilson
- Timothy Leary
- Richard Nixon
- Ken Kesey
- Haruki Murakami
- Henry Luce
- Clare Boothe Luce
- R. Gordon Wasson
- Rick Doblin
- Paul Summergrad
- Jeffrey Lieberman
- Jeff Sessions
- Rebekah Mercer
- Steve Bannon
- Peter Thiel
- Donald Trump
- Andrew Weil
- David Nutt
- Tom Insel
- Maria Sabina
- Johann Sebastian Bach
- Yo-Yo Ma
- Rachel Carson
- Robert Jesse
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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73 Replies to “Michael Pollan — Exploring The New Science of Psychedelics (#313)”
I admire the willingness to experiment on himself as one of the key factors in generating ideas about how to use psychedelics. But many of us did that throughout the 60’s and our experiences and wisdom gained were more typically dismissed and in many cases prosecuted and jailed.
I’m sorry for the dismissal @SpiritMentor. I’m curious, does the fact that society “judged” your experiences make the “wisdom gained” any less significant?
While it might have delayed serious and long-term scientific research on psychedelics, the prevailing judgments of society only served to strengthen the wisdom I gained.
The timing of this podcast is quite apropos. There is a great article in the Sat, May 5 edition of the WSJ about this very subject. There are studies being conducted at Johns Hopkins using psilocybin to help people stop smoking, with depression or anxiety. But it further looks at how it can help with mental illness.
The WSJ article was written by Michael Pollan- the guest of this podcast.
I’ve been reading the WSJ for about 35 years, and consider it the best rag out there. I enjoyed the article enough to write a letter to the editor, which they published May 12. My point: They should do a study on those among us that did LSD in the late 60s and early 70s, and that taking LSD when well can mitigate, if not eliminate, the development of mental disorders during one’s life.
I loved the whole interview,posted it on fb. The only thing is: there are not enough guides with real qualifications around.there isa tsunami of eager experimenters,where will they turn? But I think it will all turn out ok thank you so much for this .
This is 2018 and part of the trend. Some might have poor guides or worse experiences, but it’s the nature of a growing “idea”. In 2028, the medicine will be more generally accepted, much safer, and help a lot of people who currently aren’t being helped.
Enlightening to hear that so many mental illnesses could be helped, or even healed, with this research. I’m sure that each of us knows at least one person, if not a dozen, who would benefit from this process. I am very curious to watch as this process unfolds. Can’t wait to get Michael’s new book. Thank you both so very much, Tim and Michael, for the work you do, and for sharing it with the rest of us! Oh, and I fell off of a horse once, so I’m inclined to believe that this process can be even safer than riding a horse. As I was listening to this on my walk today, and laughing at the horse comment, I was really wanting to share this podcast with the passerby’s who saw me smiling as we crossed paths.
The future of psychedelics in a therapeutic setting will be one of the topics at the 2018 Psychedelic Psychedelic Forum in Victoria BC, Oct 11-14. Robin Carhart-Harris will deliver the keynote talk.
I am so interested in this topic! I’m about to pause a current TF podcast and listen to this one first (maybe). With family member who have different mental health diagnoses and working with a community that does as well through social work, I’m hooked. One family member has tried marijuana and has found a few strands to be helpful with different things and it can be good long term but the testing was rocky, the psychedelic reaction from it scared them away for awhile at first until she did more research. With this, I’ve heard a lot of great things by people who have family who’ve tried it for numerous things via microdosing and I feel it could help my family member more regularly/long term as well with their diagnoses. I am concerned about the psychedelic part though (which is why I’m so excited to listen to this podcast, more info!), a lot of what one seeing and hearing is there might be people who are more affected by the paychodelic reaction from substances more than others and she seems to definitely fall into that category. I’ll comment again once I listen, thanks for all you do Tim! (And guests!)
Fantastic conversation Tim. Michael is just such a great person and we’re all lucky to have him to learn from. Interestingly this song has been haunting me this week and to be honest i didn’t know the lyrics well but when i looked them up I thought it fitting to put them here in reference to this episode because it cues to Michael’s description of letting go of ego and becoming free to get an objective perspective of ourself image. Hopefully this is okay to post and thanks to Billy on this one for sure…
[Moderator: lyrics to The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Rocket” by Billy Corgan removed.]
The amount of gratitude I have for people like Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, Aubrey Marcus, Joe Rogan, James Fadiman, etc., bringing these plant medicines and the conscious-exploding opportunity to the forefront of society’s comfort zones has no words. My life has been saved by these medicines. I cannot wait to see what our world looks like when the people who desperately need these substances get them and can then, after realizing how whole they really are, go out and love the rest of the bitter bastards. : )
One of the most heroic and less known scientists associated with these plants is Canadian ethnobotanist Wade Davis.
very well done, informative and enjoyable, especially for people unfamiliar with this subject; and for old dudes (like me/us) yes, the current psychedelic renaissance is actually re-igniting and giving justice to experiences and wisdom gained at that time; Tim: very useful your long list of links, people, notes for in-depth diving (as Michael suggested several times in the podcast); my favorite insight: all this scientific & cultural revival (which is ongoing around the world, something that should have been underlined in the discussion) is fostering a a much-needed, completely new, wholesome approach to mental health & issue….
….and of course the crucial importance to choose the right music for your psychedelic session 🙂
So good, thanks Tim and Michael!
Very interested in possibility for eating disorders. My daughter has been struggling for four years. Any resources or advice appreciated,
From entropy to rigidity, and point in the middle.
Thanks Tim, this episode is one of the best, if it was not the best.
1- i’ve worked with fMRI so really appreciate that input, to a certain extent, technical issues makes conclusions extremely difficult, was it 3T or 1.5T magnets? What is the voxel size? etc..
2-It is fascinating that more information almost always enforces previous orientations, given how much we don’t know.
Race to switch off DMN isn’t without consequences. Switching yourself to passenger seat, to just exist, to observe, to dissolve, are more negative measurements, for a positive challenge.
Are you saying that taking a mushroom is a solution for sedentary lifestyle?
Or you are saying to ease untreatable pain or terminal cases?
It depends how life is treating you, how happenings manifests to your consciousness, are they like bouts, interrupted, or continuous slow aching pressure?
3-Water: this was fast skipped. How much we are usually bathing with different chemicals, fluoride in toothpaste and water,
mercury in vaccinations, hormonal contaminations such as Vitamin D in daily diary and cheese.
More people are switching to vegetarians, which may work for personal level, but as a whole, energy deficiency is the new norm.
4-Genetic profiling, is way more complicated issue, and guest has no answer for that question.
It’s also great for talking to trees. But on a serious note, if people in power ate mushrooms the Environment would be taken more seriously.
Hi Tim. This is totally unrelated, but here it goes. I was reading and thinking about your remarks on stoicism. I think you should read (if you have not) the book on Seneca written by Paul Veyne. It´s supremely good. And by the way, if you could ever interview Paul Veyne I am sure you would be asking yourself why you didn´t know about him earlier. He is a french scholar, an old man, the best living prose I ever met and well, what can I say, I am not able to inteview him, yet I know you would appreciate such a refined mind and an specialist in roman history and Seneca. Best regards. Florencia from Argentina, the land of Malbec.
Hi Tim! I loved this episode! Have you ever heard of Dr. Robert Melillo and the Brain Balance centers? The part of the podcast where Michael is talking about mental health issues all being related and on a sliding scale of entropy vs order made me think of how Dr. Melillo talks about disorders like autism, asperbergers, and other spectrum disorders being related and on a sliding scale of imbalances between hemispheres of the brain.
Do you know if psychedelics have tested on any spectrum disorder patients?
Just read this article about Magic Mushrooms legalization and thought you guys might be interested:
“First, Marijuana. Are Magic Mushrooms Next?
Advocates in Oregon and Denver are pushing ballot measures to allow possession of mushrooms as new research shows it may be useful in treating depression and anxiety.”
Regarding the DFW video included in 5-bullet Friday this week: I think it would be a great opportunity to acknowledge that brilliant minds do not always equate to good people.
I love your podcasts. A friend of mine recently passed away suddenly at age 42. I was wondering if you had any books or recommendations on handling grief?
The best ever book, profoundly insightful and beautifully written is “The Gate of Tears” by Jay Michaelson. Can totally recommend on how to deal with grief. Hope it will help!
All the best!
I am wondering how often hunter-gatherers hallucinated from extreme hunger or exposure. Maybe the answers to your questions aren’t in the addition of substance, but the removal of inputs to trigger changes in the brain. Tim, you have experienced the impacts of both – which has had a more profound impact if you were to pick favorites?
Appreciated the balanced approach. The line “I’m not quite a proponent of psychedelics, I’m a proponent of the research of psychedelics” I think speaks volumes to this interview and generally a concept by Marc Andressen – “Strong views, loosely held” – Thanks for continuing to ask questions Tim.
fascinating conversation! But! living in Europe… I’d love to try psychedelics in a safe environment. How can I do it and where can I even search for a place/people?..
a few EU events/resources: https://t.co/iYULE4jjlS – http://beckleyfoundation.org/ – https://psychedelicpress.co.uk/ – http://breakingconvention.co.uk/
This looks like an option: [Moderator: link to synthesisretreat (dot) com removed.]
It’s in Amsterdam, where psilocybin truffles are legal.
Now you’ve had enough scientists on about the topic, it’s time to get someone from the religious/spiritual/metaphysical end on. Psychedelics are 50/50 science and metaphysical experience so trying to explain them with only science is impossible. Let’s hear the other side of the story next!
Maybe Alex Grey??? Just not another scientist trying to analyze the unanalyzable please, and thank you for your support 🙂
Thank you Tim…the quality of this conversation is why you’re so beloved by all us seekers!
Tim, thank you for this episode. So much of what you and Michael talk about -maybe all of it – is exceptionally well understood by Javier Regueiro. Javier’s authored insightful books on Ayahuascha and most recently San Pedro [Moderator: link removed]. Have you read them? Please consider them and interviewing Javier for your podcast. Thank you for all you do. Your work has truly guided my life in transformative ways. Much gratitude. Kit
Ok, I will bite. I am interested in using psychedelics in a safe environment. How can I do it and where can I even search for a place/people? Thanks Tim for a great episode.
Good question, I want to know the same thing. Hopefully someone provides an answer.
Hi Tim, you could be part of an amazing movement to help addicts with Naltrexone and telling people about the Sinclair Method. Please read Dr. Roy Eskapa’s book [Moderator: link to “The Cure for Alcoholism” removed.] this method has shown an 80% success rate in clinical trials but the treatment method is a threat to the billion dollar rehab industry. Have you heard of this method and the COMBINE study?
A different way to look at depression is…
Depression = Anger without enthusiasm.
Are there “patient” opportunities regarding trials and/or research? If yes, can you kindly provide information?
check a new resource page on Michael Pollan website: https://t.co/OTgak1pIrP — also, this is database of clinical trial going on across the world, just enter your details and search (it works for psylocibin & psychedelics in US too): https://clinicaltrials.gov/
Cool. Thank you.
This amazing conversation is worth listening again and again. I also found these notes quite helpful.
This was one of the most profound podcasts of yours I have heard to date. I was a participant in the NYU psilocybin research study for cancer-related anxiety and am currently a PhD candidate in clinical psychology. I would be very glad to further discuss psychedelic research with you should you be interested.
Hey Tim, this Saturday May 19th we are hosting a event to raise awareness for psychedelic research. I will be running a 100 mile marathon while hosting a live Reddit AMA with a panel of world psychedlic experts to answer questions about the advancements in the research for treating depression, PTSD and other mental trauma.I hope you can check it out heroicheartsproject.org/keys100
The thing that I questioned is that no one discussed one of the scarier side effects of psychedelics, HPPD ( Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder). While this apparently occurs in a minority or people who take psychedelics the fact that it is chronic merited I think at least some mention when they were going over the risks.
How does one invest in this emerging industry?
Michael Pollan, Botany of Desire was the last book, read; written by a Berkeley professor, prior to studying there in 2004. This book – change your mind – is the most exciting, since. (Aside from Dalai Lama, Transcendent Wisdom) – on centric / gross – ultimate reality nondual etc.
simple suggestion on the importance for humanity and Mother Earth or nature to study participants with history of family mental illness and is nondual cross generational wellbeing.
Not sure if this is a political move or not. I think it would be cowardly not to focus research here for a better understanding of the nondual aspect.
A combination of mediation, Dream work, Taoism – iching practice, yoga; sprinkle in pcychadelic and conduct in a safe environment can have profound insight to mental illness and that consciousness never dies. same same. It’s all interrelated. How else can it be an accurate study? Who defines mental illness?
Some would say, ‘Anyone who starts a war is mentally ill.’ It depends on your perspective and how threatened you feel.
All else, bravo! Seriously my favorite journalistic writing.
This letter and the questions it contains is about the relation between mental illness and psychedelics. Please correct me if I’m wrong about anything below.
I just listened to your talk with Michael Pollan on psychedelics. In the podcasts, he says he doesn’t recommend tripping if you have any mental health issues. He also said that the above ground studies going on have a screening process that weeds out anyone with mental illness or a family history of one.
I remember in a TED talk that you said you were bipolar, and I was thinking that it is important to talk about using psilocybin (safely and with a guide) if you have major depression, bipolar disorder or any number of mental health issues.
If they weed out some of the people it could help, how can you use psilocybin safely to help with these illnesses? It seems and feels to me that for some of the people who could really benefit from psilocybin (albeit I believe everyone can) there is a stigma (one of them being that people with mental illness are dangerous or can’t handle the trip) attached to tripping if you have a mental illness or a family history of one, even if it is well managed.
I would deeply appreciate it if you could address this issue and how you were able to navigate your way through it. Personally, I have experimented in high school and college with mushrooms and LSD with my close friends and I would really like to do a guided trip. The main obstacle I am facing is that I don’t know how to find a safe and experienced guide to get the most benefit from the trip.
I really appreciate your research into this topic and I think your podcast and the way you approach life is truly admirable.
Thinking ahead, how might those who want to one day be LEGAL guides in a private clinical setting best set themselves up for that kind of career? Will it definitely require an MD (psychiatry) to do this kind of therapeutic work in the next 1-3 decades?
Hi Tim, long time listener. Currently working under Robin Carhart-Harris studying psychedelics at Imperial. I think he’d be fantastic to feature in your podcast series. He may be interested as he has featured on other podcasts and there’s always a need for more funding in psychedelic research. Do you have a link to him and is he someone you’d be interested in interviewing?
All the best!
Right on Tim, love this, thanks man. Great to see Michael Pollan adding his voice to the conversation!
I admire you greatly Tim but I just can’t get on board with psychedelics or drugs in general, “smart” or not. From personal experiences just with marijuana and the detrimental effects I’ve seen in friends with harder drugs, taking psychedelics for mental health is about as good an idea as… taking psych drugs, which are also so riddled with horrible side effects that we’re back to psychedelics. *face palm* Please educate people on the side effects too when you’re pushing this to be fully transparent because they’re there. [Moderator: additional text and link removed.] For now, I have to stop listening because this is just too much drug propaganda. Taking high doses of niacin can help cure depression studies have show — why can’t we talk about things like that?
I’m wondering how to find one of these guides mentioned in the episode? How could someone find “proper” supervision to undertake a psychedelic experience without going to Peru or Mexico? Googling hasn’t turned up much.
If someone could provide some information or point me in the right direction I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks.
Such a great interview! I was a patient of Dr. Abram Hoffer who worked with Dr. Humprey Osmond in the 1950s who Michael Pollan mentions – there is much to learn about the mind.
An image of the brain was mentioned a couple of times in the interview and it was mentioned that it would be posted on this site… Does anyone see it? I would love to have a look!
this article includes some images of the 2016 brain scans study at Imperial College https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/apr/11/lsd-impact-brain-revealed-groundbreaking-images
FYI Ken Kesey wrote One who flew over the cuckoo’s net. He sends Jack Nicholson to the state mental health treatment facilities from prison. A Must watch for those reading this blog. Cheers!
Consciousness is so easy to understand through practicing and playing with your own. Addiction and all else is easy to overcome when you understand that you are not the identity which awareness has assumed itself to be. I wish they would hook my brain up to an MRI because after my DAI, and my fully recovery 8 months later, I have such a profound understanding of life. Deconstruct the self through meditation on the question “Who Or What am I?” Through continually asking this question and throwing aside all answers the conditioned mind gives, you find the route of awareness, and life, while reaching a peace that surpasses all understanding.
Meta-cognition. The silent observer or witness which is alive before the formation of the brain itself. The best actors can lose themselves in the parts they play because they concentrate so much on the role they literally become the role. Check out Jim and Andy on Netflix
And sure, one can say genetics forms the brain. But logically, then, genetics would be the cause of consciousness. And I, for example, think vastly different without the aid of psychedelics than those in my gene pool.
waooo what a information
i like it
A am a large dude, addicted to sugar. I have tried cutting it out an failed multiple times. Anyone looking at using psychdelics to stop other addictions?
Hi, I am interested if anyone has connected the work on default mode networks with work on free energy and markov blankets. It seems to me that the default mode network and its corollary of the ego might be the markov blanket that separates us (at least on a perception level) from the outside world, perhaps explaining the sense of freedom and universal we get when its capacity is diminished (by whatever practice). Sorry if that is, to semi-quote Mr Pollan a “der” question, but it is a genuine… looking for more reading on this (that I can understand!). Thanks
I’m very interested in your experience with psychedelics. I have been a long term sufferer of depression and psychedelics seem to offer an alternative to standard treatment. I live overseas but will be in California late 2019. What resources are available for a guide and products?
Tim, After three years of cognitive behavior therapy mixed with a few different anti depressants, my psychiatrist basically said, “the DSM has failed you” (I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, PTSD along with some B.S. including IED, ODD, blah blah blah) and he blessed my interest in pursuing alternatives including psychedelics. So, after reading the Body Keeps the Score and I Don’t Want to Talk About It, starting a meditation practice and freeing up my life to pursue my health, I am ready to get started. It looks like MDMA, Psilocybin and Ketamine (finally FDA approved!) are some of the right starting points along with EMDR. BUT, I want a professional to guide me through this journey. I am fortunate enough to be able to go anywhere in the world and work with anyone. Any suggestions?
I heard you and Michael at SXSW last week. I’m looking for information on opportunities to fund research on this topic. Can you point me in the right direction?
Hi, Anna –
I just sent you an email but will also leave information here for anyone else who wishes to donate.
Following is Tim’s note from the Trip of Compassion (film) blog post:
“In addition to helping launch this movie, I am supporting broader access to MDMA-assisted therapy in the USA and elsewhere by donating to MAPS.org, a non-profit dedicated to making this treatment available to those who need it (e.g., phase 3 trials, regulatory work, scholarships for low-income patients).
“If you also decide that this work is important, please consider visiting MAPS.org to donate. NOTE: Be sure to specify the following in the donation form (there is a field for this, as they have many initiatives): ‘Funds are restricted to MDMA phase 3 trials.'”
The web address for donating is
It may take a moment to load.
Thank you for inquiring, Anna, and thanks to all who are considering a donation.
One of my favorites of all time. Pollan is great. I’d highly recommend his netlifx series, Cooked, if you haven’t seen it yet. It inspired me to start my work on [Moderator: link removed.]
I wonder how brain change due to psychedelics compares to the way a woman’s brain changes in pregnancy. Empathy being one of the major affects.
I am one of the lucky winners of “How to change your mind” and I wanted to thank you. Not only the book is wonderful, but in a feat of synchronicity, I received it just before leaving home for major surgery.
This meant a lot. Thanks again.
Thanks for sharing the valuable information and resources. The discussion in the comments section is already going great. thought to leave a note of appreciation. Thanks
I have listened to most of your podcasts on the topic of reducing PTSD as I have found it very difficult to do. I have spoken with my therapist about your podcasts and she sent me this link for an article that is not as enthusiastic as you are on the use of psychotropic drug with therapy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7218633/
Have these concerns been addressed or is there a way to get them addressed with the organizations you support? Thank you for giving me hope.