Can psychedelics make an academic comeback? Ever?
This spring, NPR ran a short 5-part-series on the brain science of spirituality. The series features short snippets about science’s latest discoveries and adventures into how the brain interprets spiritual events.
The series is based upon the work in the book Fingerprints of God. NPR religion correspondent, Barbara Bradley Hagerty, wrote the book and is also responsible for producing the series.
In the first part of the series, Haggert covers a peyote ceremony conducted at a Navajo reservation in Arizona and the recent psilocybin (the psychedelic ingredient in mushrooms) experiments that were conducted at John Hopkins University.
You can read the first part of the series — with links to the audio, here. Or you can go NPR’s interactive landing page for the series. The landing page features interactive maps of the brain and links to all stories in the series.
And for the Buddha-inclined
The hosts of Buddhist Geeks, a weekly podcast show about Buddhism, interview American Zen Master, Denis Kelly. Kelly is the abbot of Hollow Bones Zen School and a teacher at Shambhala Mountain Center in Colorado.
In the podcast, Kelly talks about the interesting path he took in Buddhism to get where he is now and how it was influenced by LSD. Kelly also talks about his new form of Koan practice that utilizes Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques. You can find that podcast here.
Oh but wait there’s more
The non-profit research and educational organization, MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), is working towards more research being done in the name of psychedelic medicine.
Currently the non-profit is sponsoring two clinical trials that are using MDMA – also known by the street name Ecstasy, to treat PTSD (Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder). PTSD is an anxiety disorder that is caused by psychological trauma. Wikipedia writes this about psychological trauma.
A traumatic event involves a single experience, or an enduring or repeating event or events, that completely overwhelm the individual’s ability to cope or integrate the ideas and emotions involved with that experience. The sense of being overwhelmed can be delayed by weeks, years, even decades, as the person struggles to cope with the immediate circumstances. Trauma can be caused by a wide variety of events, but there are a few common aspects. There is frequently a violation of the person’s familiar ideas about the world and of their human rights, putting the person in a state of extreme confusion and insecurity. This is also seen when people or institutions depended on for survival violate or betray or disillusion the person in some unforeseen way.
The disorder is commonly seen in survivors of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse and survivors of dangerous life-threatening events such as physical assault, rape, and accidents. Most recently, an increasing amount of soldiers coming back from the Iraq War have been diagnosed with PTSD.
Because of their involvement in these trials, the non-profit has produced a therapist manual of standardized methods for treatment of PTSD with MDMA. Which you can view here.