The brains of human beings seem built to process stories better than other forms of input ... - Thomas B Newman, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics
Psychedelics: again the pilgrimage - current experience, preparing
"No man was ever wise by chance." Lucius Seneca
"Who will prefer the jingle of jade pendants if he once has heard stone growing in a cliff?" Lao Tzu
Sitting on a beautiful morning ... again here in the Hague. Just over three months ago, I also came here on a kind of 'pilgrimage' ... to revisit psychedelic experience after a fifty year or so gap since experimenting with LSD as a student. There are a series of three posts about that recent exploration starting with "Recent psychedelic research: lessons from current personal experience - introduction" - as well as notes about the student time in "Psychedelics: university memories". So why am I here again? The primary reason is that emerging research clearly suggests that psychedelics can be helpful for a number of difficult-to-treat disorders like treatment-resistant depression, alcoholism & other addictions, severe end of life distress, and possibly other problems such as eating disorders and PTSD. I have written extensively on this ... as a start, see the post "Recent psychedelic research: an introduction" ... and I have initiated the formation of a Scottish helping professionals special interest group on psychedelic enhanced psychotherapy (see this article for the main Scottish counselling journal). So this is the primary reason for this pilgrimage ... to learn how to be more useful for people who want to learn, ease suffering, grow more healthy & whole by journeying in this psychedelic mountain range themselves. And the second reason ... to wonder & learn myself in this often awe-inspiring (and at times frightening) landscape.
And here are a series of questions I would like better answers to:
* Who do I feel comfortable mentioning when clients (or friends/colleagues) ask who I feel is a good 'tripsitter' to help maintain safety during (legal) psychedelic exploration using psilocybin truffles here in the Netherlands?
* What dose of truffles (and what kind) is it likely to be helpful to take?
* If one's going to use a music playlist during one's psychedelic journey, what are the pluses & minuses of using a home-made one or of using a pre-designed one ... for example those offered by John Hopkins or Imperial College? And what are some of the practical issues about doing this?
* How is it good to prepare for a psychedelic trip ... and to respond once one is in it?
* When does it make sense to take psychedelics in a group setting and when on one's own (typically with tripsitting support)?
* How is it good to integrate one's experiences?
No doubt there will be other issues as well that will emerge over the next few days! I flew in from Scotland yesterday and I'm due to take a high-dose trip tomorrow. Three months ago, I took a first trip just the day after arriving in the Netherlands. I notice that it feels good to have this first settling-in day before taking the trip itself, and the same is likely to be true for allowing space after the trip as well.
A major way I see these experiences is in trying to find paths ... paths through the high mountains of psychedelic experience. How can people come here as safely as possible? How best prepare, how manage the trip itself, how integrate the experience afterwards? Emerging research suggests that a significant percentage of those who come to me for psychotherapeutic help could quite probably benefit from well-prepared, well-managed, well-followed up psychedelic experience. My job is to help them be clear about current scientific understanding of how this territory might be personally relevant for them & and the struggles they have. It's certainly not my job to try to persuade anybody to take psychedelics ... not my job either legally or ethically ... but I would very much like to be of real help for any of my clients, colleagues & friends who decide for themselves that this is a pilgrimage they want to make.
So how did the journey go ... see the next post in this sequence "Psychedelics: again the pilgrimage - current experience, high dose".