Rick Doblin — The Psychedelic Domino That Tips All Others (#440)

Photo courtesy of MAPS

Rick Doblin, PhD, (@rickdoblin) is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He received his doctorate in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he wrote his dissertation on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics and marijuana and his master’s thesis on a survey of oncologists about smoked marijuana vs. the oral THC pill in nausea control for cancer patients. Rick was also one of the early students under the legendary Dr. Stanislav Grof.

Please listen to this entire episode, as there is a $10M surprise at the end.

If you are interested in learning more about MAPS’s critical work and Phase 3 studies to make MDMA-assisted psychotherapy an approved treatment for PTSD, please visit maps.org/capstone.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#440: Rick Doblin — The Psychedelic Domino That Tips All Others

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to learn more about psychedelic therapy from another pioneer in this field? — Listen to my conversation with the legendary Stan Grof, in which we discuss the takeaways from guiding 4,500+ LSD sessions, the place and role of wounded healers, limitations and uses of traditional psychoanalysis and talk therapy, the similarities found between holotropic breathwork and MDMA, what humanity most needs to overcome, and much more.

You might also enjoy The Way of the Psychonaut: Stan Grof’s Journey of Consciousness, a documentary honoring Stan Grof. His new training program, Grof Legacy Training, is based on Stan’s research into psychedelic therapy, holotropic breathwork, transpersonal psychology, and spiritual emergencies.

#347: Stan Grof, Lessons from ~4,500 LSD Sessions and Beyond


  • Connect with Rick Doblin:

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

  • Connect with MAPS:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


  • What is MAPS, and how did MAPS come to be? [05:42]
  • What is MDMA — where did it come from, and how did it find its way into the therapeutic context? [08:51]
  • What was Sasha Shulgin’s role in the history of psychedelics, and how did he operate a lab to study them openly without suffering legal consequences? [18:08]
  • Who is Jon Lubecky, and why did he come into Rick’s life? [21:43]
  • Why does Rick believe psychedelic therapy not only allows sufferers of PTSD to tolerably revisit and come to terms with their traumatic experiences, but also enjoy the benefits for months or even years after the chemical components of this therapy have faded? [29:58]
  • What are the biggest differences between MDMA and the less well-known MDA? [39:31]
  • Rick talks about his first psychedelic therapy sessions with a PTSD patient back in 1984, their short- and long-term effects, and how that patient went on to become an important asset to the MAPS community. [42:42]
  • For Rick and his colleagues, what has made the rewards of psychedelic therapy worth enduring its risks — especially in the not-so-distant past when it was legally dangerous and considered career suicide for its practitioners? [57:06]
  • The suicide note that reached Rick when help came too late, and what it emphasized about the importance of his life’s work. [1:00:00]
  • What the present and future look like for MDMA reclassification and its therapeutic use, and why matching grants make now the ideal time for prospective contributors to get the most mileage from their money. [1:04:04]
  • Up until recently, anyone associated with psychedelic therapies could expect to suffer a blow to their reputation, but the times are changing, and my own experience has proven quite the opposite. [1:07:19]
  • How much would you pay for 100 percent reputational upside in making MDMA-assisted therapies available to the thousands in need? [1:30:10]
  • Parting thoughts. [1:32:29]


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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23 Replies to “Rick Doblin — The Psychedelic Domino That Tips All Others (#440)”

  1. Listening to your Rick Doblin podcast this afternoon and you mentioned the Hopkins psilocybin smoking cessation study and their results with regards to participants quitting smoking. You stated (I’m paraphrasing a bit) that those without integration were unable to quit. I was one of the participants who did not quit however, I did, and for several years, integrate my experience with Dr Bill Richards. I agree that integration is as important as the sessions however, in my case and I’m sure in those of others who did not quit, the lack of integration was likely not the reason that they did not quit smoking. Thanks for what you do.


    1. Hi Pete,

      Thanks for the comment. Bill Richards is the best.

      I was trying to say that if you don’t go into sessions with an intention of quitting smoking, and a system of support around that, it’s unlikely that you will quit smoking.

      That is simply a response to those who might say, “If psilocybin is so good for quitting smoking, why haven’t the millions of smokers who’ve tried it recreationally not quit smoking?”

      So, I was more referring to the entire study design vs the integration alone.

      Hope that makes sense!

      Be well,


  2. Thank you so much Tim, for sharing this information right now and staying focused on that finish line! I think there is so much good that’s going to come out of this!

  3. Hi Tim,
    Its fantastic that you are funding MAPS and researching psychedelics but your comment that
    ‘Conventional treatments fail all the time’ needs one important caveat. I am not sure if this is what you would call conventional or not but some people in England have been having very high success rates treating PTSD without drugs for years. The main part of the treatment is called the rewind technique which is part of an integrated treatment offered by Human Givens practitioners. I know, the name sounds a bit lame but have a look. They get results almost every time. People cured within 3 to 5 sessions in most cases. Google Human Givens Institute. I would go as far as to say that if you interviewed one of the founders, Joe Griffen, you will change the world (even more than you are now).
    Greg Holdsworth (New Zealand)

  4. Hi Tim! Thanks for this episode. What future potential is there for an investment fund dedicated to psychedelic therapies? I’d love to allocate a percentage of my longer-term investment portfolio to support research and therapeutic potential in this area. I will be making a donation but would also love to explore investment opportunities if/when they become available.

  5. Hey Tim, I’ve heard you talking quite a few times about meditating about death and was wondering if you could do a short podcast, a themed one or something specifically about it: contemplating death, tactics, techniques etc.
    Big Hug from Brazil, Gabe.

  6. I just read your 5-bullet Friday endorsement of “Little, Big.” And it’s finally gratifying that just this once, I was ahead of the curve! Crowley’s one of my all time favorite authors- I’m currently reading the Aegypt cycle and while dense and chewy, it’s not as good as Little, Big. You can see Crowleys influence in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell; in Carnival Row; maybe a bit in The Magicians. If you liked the spell cast by LB, try Engine Summer, and for a satisfying more “normal” yet eerie feel, “The Deep” is great. I read The Deep in high school in 1979, and it lead me to buy Little, Big in 1981, new, at a time I couldn’t afford any new books. Enjoy!

  7. Hey Tim! Phenomenal work with your donation. Are you familiar with Effective Altruism? I’d really encourage you to read Doing Good Better by Will MacAskill. It applies the Tim Ferris way of efficacy and efficiency to giving.

  8. Hello Tim,

    Planning on donating a (small) amount to the MDMA-initiative.

    One question – the free Lancet article that Rick mentions (May 1st, 2018) is not free – just checked. Do you know anything about that?


    1. Hi, Lars –

      You can find the link to this article in the “Selected Links” section just below the podcast player in the main body of this post. It is the 26th item.


      Team Tim Ferriss

  9. Tim and Rick – I would love a chance to speak with someone about a blood brain barrier crossing chemo medication (Lorlatinib) – It’s side-effects mirror some of what you described M.D.M.A. as capable of… particularly the ‘oxytocin effect’ of empathy and compassion, improved listening- in this episode.

    My husband has stage IV Lung cancer and in 2018 it spread to his brain. He went on a Blood Brain Barrier Crossing targeted therapy in Nov,. 2018 Lorlatinib. We were taken by surprise by this medication as the side-effects were VERY similar to that of of M.D.M.A. and Psilocybin – at 100mg. We have had to go back down to 75 mg and the side effects were minimized. Like a window into empathy opened at 100mg and then narrowed again at 75 mg.

    What I wouldn’t give for him to participate in on of the M.D.M.A. trials. He is a newly retired fire-fighter paramedic (26 years) … and in his 5th year of a stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis.
    PTSD is part of his body composition at this point.

    THANK YOU for all you are doing in this arena. We are following YOU closely.

    Excited for this HUGE breakthrough – thank you for your tireless efforts: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/04/science/psychedelic-drugs-hopkins-depression.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article

    Stay awkward, brave and kind,

    1. Tim,

      I sit on the MAPS Canada advisory board, exited a recent startup, and am a venture partner for psychedelic focused fund in Canada. We’re closing fund 1 and launching fund 2 shortly. We want to bake in a portion of fund 2 carry going to MAPS and other enablement causes. Would be interested in exploring combining with your efforts. Thanks.

  10. Hi Tim,

    I’m doing my dissertation on Dick Schwartz, the founder of IFS. I heard you mention IFS in this podcast and was wondering if you would be interested in doing a podcast with Dick.

    Please let me know if I can help facilitate that.

    With best wishes,


  11. I’m very interested in participating in MDMA and other psychedelic treatment for anxiety from advanced prostate cancer. I have recently had a prostatectomy and undergoing radiotherapy and ADT. I would appreciate any suggestions to pursue this type treatment.
    Thank you for all you do!