In late 2012, best-selling author and journalist Michael Pollan (“Omnibo’s Dilemma”) attended a dinner party in Berkeley, California. Among his fellow diners was a prominent developmental psychiatrist in his 60s. Recent LSD trip. This stabbed Polan’s ear.
The first thoughts he shared in a recent video interview are: that Are you taking LSD? The psychiatrist went on to explain that the drug made her better understand the way her children think.
“Her hypothesis was that the effect of psychedelics, in this case LSD, would allow the child to experience how consciousness would be. This kind of 360-degree information capture is particularly focused. I was fascinated, not squeezed. By all. “
Paulan had already heard about clinical trials giving doctors psilocybin to help cancer patients cope with their fear of death. Now he was really interested in psychedelic therapy. His curiosity became an article about the New Yorker (“The Trip Treatment” 2015). The article is now in the book “How to Change Your Mind” (2019).
And now, the book is now in the four-part Netflix series of the same name, which debuted on Tuesday. Paulan is an executive producer (along with Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney) and a leading camera presence.
With a thoughtful and broad view of psychedelic therapy, this series is designed with centuries of communion use and an uneasy history in modern society, especially in the United States. In particular, four substances, LSD, mescaline, MDMA (known as ecstasy or molly), psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms), and they are used to treat patients with illnesses, including after trauma. Focus on how you are. Stress disorder, addiction, depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder.
One of those patients is Lori Tipton, a New Orleans woman who endured a series of misfortunes like work. Her brother died of overdose. Her mother killed two people and then committed suicide. Tipton found her body. She was raped by her acquaintance. Not surprisingly, she developed severe PTSD.
“I felt like I couldn’t access the joy of life even when I was in front of me,” Tipton said in a video interview. She was always thinking about suicide. When she heard about the MDMA clinical trials held in 2018, she thought she had nothing to lose.
I can be involved in some of this. A few years ago, my life partner, Kate, was diagnosed with end-stage brain disease, and about 18 months later, after dying in 2020, she was diagnosed with PTSD and clinical depression. I wasn’t very interested in living. With no choice, my doctor prescribed me a weekly regimen of esketamine, a closely related species of the dissociative hallucinogen ketamine.
Like many, I used to try hallucinogens such as mushrooms and LSD when I was young. I was having a party but I wasn’t looking for it. I didn’t mean to go back there. But the treatment began to help me almost immediately.
Polan, 67, has never done a youthful experiment. He is primarily known as an expert in plants and healthy eating — his latest book, “This is Your Mind About Plants,” will be published in a paperback on July 19 — he. I came to psychedelic in my later years. He was too young to indulge in the Summer of Love, and by the 1970s, the war between drugs and anti-LSD hysteria shattered the fertile era of scientific research in the 1950s.
But as he studied and began experimenting, he became a convert quite quickly.
“At this age, sometimes you need to be shaken off your ditch,” he says in the Netflix series. “We have to think about these substances in a very clear way, throw away the ideas we have inherited about them, and ask,’What is this good for?'”
With a tall and bald swimmer physique, Paulan is not Timothy Leary — he doesn’t want anyone to drop out — and the medical exams described and shown in “How to Change Your Mind” The acid test of the 1960s should not be confused with the bohemian of Ken Kesey. At that time, when psychedelics left the lab and entered counterculture, the power structure was astonished.
“The kids were going to the commune, and the American boy refused to go to war,” Polan said. “President Nixon certainly believed that LSD was responsible for much of this, and he was probably right. It was a very destructive force on society, and it was after 1965. I think that’s why the media opposes it after it was incredibly enthusiastic before 1965. “
Junk Science has spread the nonsense about LSD scrambling chromosomes. The drug became illegal in California in 1967 and nationally in 1970. Researchers were not forbidden to continue working on psychedelics, but the stigma made such work very rare until it reappeared in the 2000s.Today, clinical trials are approved by the FDA and DEA
“From the early 70’s to the early 90’s, there were no approved psychedelic studies in humans,” said Charles Grob, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at UCLA, who writes extensively about psychedelic therapy. increase. “Since then, research and development has re-emerged and evolved slowly. Over the last few years, it seems that the interest of experts and the general public on this topic has exploded.”
Given the evolving attitude, one of the challenges faced by filmmakers, including Alison Ellwood and Lucy Walker, is to refine the psychedelic experience without encountering the realm of exploitation films of the 1960s. It was a way to describe it in the same way.
“We didn’t want to fall into the trap of using psychedelic visual metaphors — wild colors, rainbow stripes, morphing images,” Elwood wrote in an email. “We wanted to keep our visual style more personal, intimate and empirical. To those who are watching a series that has never had their own psychedelic experience, I wanted you to get familiar with the visuals. “
One of the imaginative scenes recreates the famous bicycle ride taken by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, who first synthesized LSD in 1936 but did not discover its psychedelic effect until 1943. Masu (accidentally). After ingesting 250 micrograms, he felt weird and Hoffman rode a bicycle at the peak of his trip. In “How to Change Your Mind,” you can see the buildings around him bending and swaying. The road below him is blurry. The tombstones in the graveyard are shaking.
Tipton’s experience in her clinical MDMA trial was more controlled, but less profound. She said the results after her three sessions were beyond what she could have imagined.
“As the session progressed, I worked with the therapist to remember some of the most difficult experiences of my life and to remain embodied and fully express my emotions,” Tipton said. Told. “By doing this, I was able to find a new perspective that has avoided me for years, and from this place I find empathy, forgiveness, and understanding for many in my life. But the most important thing is myself. “
Her explanation sounded familiar. In 2020, I went to the doctor’s office once a week, took three nasal spray inhalers, sat for two hours, and paused until my blood pressure was halved. I didn’t hallucinate, but I noticed that Kate was talking as if she were in her room.
I saw my sadness as something other than my existence, something more like love than death. I didn’t equate it with my pain as well.
It was definitely a spiritual experience. Two hours later, I was a little sullen, but otherwise I was back to normal and ready to go home. After several such sessions, in combination with talk therapy, light began to appear at the end of the tunnel. Esketamine isn’t technically a psychedelic drug, but it certainly changed my mind.
It is no exaggeration to say that Polan has changed. He recently became a co-founder of the University of California, Berkeley. Psychedelic Science Center..Part of him Author’s website It is currently functioning as an information exchange for those who want to know more. The words of his efforts seem to be widespread. His book on this subject was named in a recent episode of the HBO Max series “Hacks.” The Netflix series is already in the top 10 streamers in the United States.
Little by little, national law is beginning to reflect an evolving attitude.Oregon voters last year Approve Voting Initiative It directs the Oregon Department of Health to license and regulate the provision of psilocybin products and services.Colorado Seems likely to vote With a similar initiative this fall.
For Polan, such efforts stimulate personal nerves.
“The ego is the membrane between you and the world,” he said. “It’s defensive and very useful. It accomplishes a lot, but it’s between us and others, giving us the duality of this subject and purpose. When the ego is gone. , There is nothing between you and the world. “
“Understanding your ego is about working on psychotherapy,” he added. “But this happened to me during the afternoon, and it’s worth noting about it.”