In this MAPS interview, Mark Pesce, co-inventor of the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML), talks about LSD’s influence on his creative process:
I’m not sure that I’d be doing any of the work that I’m doing now [without psychedelics]. My use of psychedelics and my intellectual career essentially began synonymously somewhere in the first or second year of college. And so there was an opening up that came from the psychedelic experience, which resulted in my becoming attracted to certain types of ideas…certain types of research. It’s not that it established the agenda, but it gave me a magnetic center [..] And from that, what I had to do was just follow where that center would take me, and listen to it. And the times in my life when I’ve gotten fucked up are the times when I haven’t done that.
They’ve certainly been facilitators or catalysts for [solving specific problems]. The most striking example is all the cyberspace protocols that came to me. I mean “wham,” it came to me like that, and I just saw them. I got the big picture, but the big picture said, “Okay, well you know roughly how to make it work. Now you have to go in and do the detail, right?” I spent three years doing that detail work, and out of that detail work came VRML, and some stuff which you’ll probably still see in a couple of years. So in that case it was very direct… I’ve done a bunch of research work on the ethics and the effects of virtual environments. And that also was catalyzed specifically in a psychedelic experience. You know, it was like “snap.” It’s a moment of clarity. [..] Just because you see it, doesn’t mean that you’re immediately able to talk about it. I spent six months with that, and managed to sort of piece it together, and say, “Okay, well I’ve got this great tapestry up there. All right, I think I see a relationship within the elements, let me spend some time with it and get it codified into something that’s visibly solid in feel.”
If you’re looking to pitch in some hard-earned cash to advance drug education and bring the future of legal, well regulated, socially accepted psychedelic use ever nearer, here are three great initiatives deserving of your attention and dollars:
1) Help make the non-profit production of MDMA & psychedelics a reality!
EmmaSofia, a Norwegian non-profit, is hoping to take a big step forward in increasing the accessibility of quality-controlled psychedelics around the world. If their Indiegogo campaign proves successful, they plan to manufacture MDMA, psilocybin, and perhaps LSD for “use in medical practice, research, and other legal purposes.” With a week left in their campaign, they’ve raised $18,000 of the $300,000 start-up cost for MDMA and psilocybin.
The two researchers behind this project have contributed significantly to psychedelic research in recent years. In 2012, Pål-Ørjan Johansen and Teri Suzanne Krebs conducted a meta-analysis that showed LSD could be a viable treatment for alcoholism — I covered this research here.
These same researchers are also behind a recent population study which demonstrated that psychedelic use does not increase the risk of psychosis or other mental health conditions, refuting a myth that has persistently clung to psychedelics for decades.
EmmaSofia is “working to ensure the human rights of people who choose to use MDMA and psychedelics whether for therapeutic, spiritual, personal development, or cultural purposes.” If you want to join the 500 people that have contributed to EmmaSofia’s mission so far, check out their Indiegogo campaign! Continue reading
An AskMen article I wrote on psychedelics caught the interest of Montreal’s CJAD radio station (hooray!), so on March 18 they brought me on The Exchange to talk about psychedelic research, some of their medical applications, and the role these substances might come to play in our society in coming years. Enjoy!
In recent years, researchers have begun to report once more on the many medical uses of psychedelics. Far from being new discoveries, many of these findings are replicating much of what was already becoming known about these substances in the first wave of psychedelic research that spanned the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Treating post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, and end-of-life anxiety in terminal patients are amazing and much-needed applications, and they’re also the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible.
For one extremely interesting example, here’s a quote from a passage of Stanislav Grof’s “LSD Psychotherapy” where he describes the various applications of psychedelic therapy:
Sexual experiences and behavior can be deeply influenced by the LSD process. The intensity, depth and completeness of the sexual orgasm and the ease with which it occurs seems to be closely related to the process of letting go of psychological defenses. Many problems in this area can be traced back to unconscious confusion between the pattern of genital orgasm and that of the total physical release that characterizes the orgasm of birth. As LSD subjects learn to let go in the death-rebirth process, their orgasmic ability increases considerably; this improvement of sexual experiences can be observed in both males and females. In those individuals who did not have any major psychopathological symptoms prior to the LSD session, the same effect can usually be observed after one or several high-dose psychedelic experiences. Sexual neuroses, such as frigidity, vaginal spasms (vaginism), genital pain during intercourse, impotence and premature ejaculation frequently respond well to LSD psychotherapy; however, effective treatment of these disorders usually requires serial administration of the drug and experiential confrontation of the roots of these disorders on the perinatal level.
My first psychedelic experience took place the summer before leaving for college. I smoked a large amount of 20x salvia extract and consequently underwent an extremely sudden and overwhelming ego death, for which I was completely unprepared. The experience was thoroughly disorienting and left me with many questions and few answers, if any at all. I felt it would be worthwhile to write about the experience, as it remains the most challenging and intense experience I’ve had to date, and one which broadened my horizons and continues to influence my interests and studies.
Read the trip report here! Afterward, you should check out this short interview where I spoke briefly with The Link’s Mathieu D’Amours about salvia and my experience.
In other news, you might have noticed the awesome new Turning Inward logo at the top of this post, courtesy of Sam Jones! He also did an excellent job of illustrating my salvia trip:
This week I had the opportunity to interview someone who, over the course of a couple years, regularly used psilocybin mushrooms and found it helped him work through anxiety issues and regain the passion he’d lost.
Read the interview here! Afterwards, you should check out this interview between myself and The Link’s Mathieu D’Amours, where we talk a bit more in-depth about my article.
Today I published my first article in The Link! Titled “A Psychedelic Renaissance,” it goes over the need for people to become more educated about the drugs that surround them:
The word “drug” itself often keeps us from developing a more nuanced understanding of these substances. This is a term that places cannabis, heroin and MDMA into the same category, despite their radically different effects and harm profiles.
In political dialogue, the term “drugs” is Orwellian; it’s a scare-tactic word that lumps the good with the bad and the ugly.
. . .
The mindset regarding drugs is similar to sex: if we’re not well-informed, the first thing to do is educate ourselves in order to sort the facts from the stigma and sensational preconceived notions—and to ensure our safety.
Seek out information on substances that you’re curious about; ask friends that have experience with these substances, or spend some time reading the endless trip reports that exist on sites like Erowid to get a better idea of what the subjective experience is like on a particular substance.
The article also gives a brief overview of some exciting recent and ongoing psychedelic research. To check it out, click here!