Dr. James Fadiman – Transcript


The human experience podcast is plunging back through the world of transpersonal psychology mystical experiences in the use of psychedelics at healing tools my guest tonight is Dr. James Fadiman who is the author of the book psychedelic explorers guide he also helped found the Institute of transpersonal psychology Jim welcome to the program thank you very much it’s a great pleasure to be here so let’s just start this with the big disclaimer that we don’t advocate the use of drugs or illegal behavior and use of these compounds should be regarded as highly sacred that although for that whatever decision your highly educated if you could just detail that for are listening audience to begin this conversation I think that would be helpful to credential were discussed her for my my credentials are that I was a Harvard undergraduate and my favorite professor turned out to be something Richard Alpert who later became roundoff and I was after college I was actually living in Europe I’m trying to stay there as long as possible in my draft board wrote in fifth would you like to join us in Vietnam or have you consider graduate school so I went to graduate school at Stanford and the the dissertation about the effectiveness of psychedelic therapy of them I have had a very checkered career since then.


since I was told that if I didn’t dissertation on psychedelic therapy I would never have a normal academic career and so far so good yeah still of your book was very intriguing and there’s a part in it and the year is 1961 you’re in the city of Paris ran your sitting next to Richard Alpert a.k.a. roundoff the highly revered around us and your under the influence of mushrooms yet so how did how that take place in and was well I was living in Paris and I was completing a remarkably bad know which I thought was a remarkably good know and my professor Richard Alpert path through Paris on his way to Copenhagen where he would meet with Timothy Leary and all the way that they would be presenting for the first time some of the Harvard research at an international psychological conference and so Richard who relief that I become really good friend of said to me the greatest thing in the world of happened to me that I want to share with you the felt pretty good that he reached into his jacket pocket and came out with a little violent and I was taken aback that I didn’t drink coffee I was really beyond strict you and I look at the bill that I thought word we Say on the radio them that he’s then I took the then we sat a little café on the sidewalk in Paris and gradually of things began to feel very bright and very colorful and the noise was a little louder the fact I could much more easily to the conversations of the people behind me of that and understand what they were saying that I realized my French what that could sit I could actually do that so I said Richard this i

s too much for me in the physically too much for me to spell he is not taking anything if it because is the first president so we retreated to my fifth floor walk up and I have a series of the revelations about the way the world was put together and who I was at work relationships were like that was very meaningful the week later I followed roundoff the Copenhagen and had another experience others in retrospect would be a moderate dose of Philip thought and it was in those days they were looking at what they would call profound human” nothing really mystical and so a life went on and I looked at Stanford and met with a group pool working with LSD there and so much deeper plunge into psychedelic expansion of reality that Stetzer interesting so that would you say that that was how your interest in psychedelics began you I have zero interest zero knowledge zero experience and the whole world of altered states really didn’t live certainly for people like me see URS. So this is treated as it around on you are straight at you as you I would I was a kind of neurotic intellectual such as Harvard could very easily produce and I was very aware of it being intelligent was probably the only of really interesting value to how would you say how would you say that that experience changed you well everything is set I think is not a sense about the way human beings all of which is it alerted me to to the first level I’ve found it being that other people really mattered in the of my being smart arrogant really kept me away from people and then when I later have LSD I became aw

are that I was part of a much larger reality of which Jim Fadiman was a very small part in which the personality of Jim Fadiman was even the smaller part so that my entire worldview would not changed it was simply expanded data that I now live in a much larger world in which the natural world of that I was part of it I was not separate from it and the intellect with the tool nothing more than that and there was a great deal that I now was open so that I have no have no awareness all before and no understanding was there was there one particular vision of war experience that stands out in your own mind that kind of affected your view on reality specifically the elderly and what comes to mind is is a moment during that first LSD experience which was much higher dose and I was in a different setting of in a safe what we now call a safe setting with eyeshades and music and I had in the great darkness of the universe there was a tiny light and I found myself lying towards that life and that like seeing the incredibly loving and then in front of me was Jesus and I was probably of this interested agnostic with no religious particular religious experience and I found that kind of strange but I was clearly a strange universe and then I flew past it and I looked back and I could see that the Jesus was like a up a stage setting we know we build a stage set from the back and you can see the framing in the bathroom and then I turned back toward this life and flew toward in his head that have no dimension and had no theology and in retrospect I can see that the great religious faith of all the traditions in a sense are standing in front of the light of the light seems to come from them but it’s really coming through them and I was a major shift for me even though the next day I was still a graduate student in psychology at Stanford and no one else in the department had much interest in my my worldview one way or another I mean in your book you talk about this first second and third waves I mean are we are we still within this third waves of explorers and researchers well that if if I’m a member of the third wave of probably their the fourth and fifth wave worried that I’m now finding that there’s a visit with a graduate student list that you have to be a graduate student in some sor

t and an overtly have it have been exploring psychedelics through courses research and you can join that list the other people who want to have a career in some kind of psychedelic work in this maybe 800 people on that list on their from all over the world and from a dozen disciplines and so we’re really seeing the the kind of expansion of of that it’s okay to be deeply interested in these substances and what they do and still be part of the dominant scientific culture so this is very much not connection fees in New Mexico and a commune which a party which I also did but really that the culture is now loosening up enough to accept that there is a proliferation of people with psychedelic interest of which are podcast is is just another example worried that means 60s must’ve been such an interesting time and even now I mean if you as you look at the shift end people who are kind waking up to how therapeutic is can be and how these compounds can really affect and change your lives for the better it it really really makes you wonder where we will be in 10 years 20 years the 60s had one major difference which is we were all incredibly optimistic about the future we solve it since we represented truth life goodness love health-food etc. that it was only a matter of time before the world immediately caught on to what we were doing and stop doing things that were bad for the world now it’s very hard to be optimistic about the future in the large that and the psychedelics are more like trying to save us from the overwhelming and the forces of it out in the quality and climate chan

ge so there’s a braver kind of new generation coming up but fortunately there’s a lot of them and when they hold hands they form of the group the heart of the occupy movement were lots and lots of people with serious psychedelic experience for example yeah I mean you know I really feel like your book is kind of the first of its it’s kind in that we outsiders groups like Aravind Mueller received people writing about and the sake of their careers and they’re afraid to really talk about this end and your book kind of breaks down in a way how to prepare yourself and how to guide someone who is in the midst of this bending experience immediate don’t really change you will the things that people forget in the research world is everybody else so 99% of the psychedelic use this year will not be in any kind of formal setting and so of I’m talking to a group of four 500 people and I’ll say how many of you’re going to be in a research study with psychedelic texture maybe one hand will go up and I think many of you are going to use the psychedelic next year and you know 400 and so Craig so my book is written for the 400 you which says if you’re going to use psychedelics probably given how powerful they are how valuable and how important you’d probably like to do it with maximum benefit and minimum risk and so the first few chapters of the book are entirely that and that was really the my impetus for the whole thing which was what would be helpful if were going to do it anyway you it’s it’s funny because and going back to the risk is in your career by talking about this now

in as as a running his podcast and I’m inviting people to be on the show and if you look at my previous guests and in a some people will reply and they dislike know thinking and you divide that I get is well you know I I just I don’t want to at the risk of haiku here beyond podcast also and a kinder way ANOVA the people who are doing research for you probably have they are being they need federal approval in state approval they University approval any department approval there’s something called an IRB an institutional review board the universities have to look at all the search is off a lot of people that are giving them permission who are a little nervous so they don’t want to go on to a show like yours and talk much beyond what their researches because they don’t want their research to be stopped break by by one frightened the luminous and over phone the University and says I gave you have a football stadium now you’re going to use these dreadful drug vital argue giving more money she But also in a real sense they’re not frightened but they are still dealing with the bureaucracy that has not caught up with the culture rightly I think the you can see it so easily with marijuana research which is it’s obvious that marijuana has a lot of benefits but it’s very hard for the government to say well if that’s true we have to reschedule and if we reschedule it we have to admit we’ve been wrong for a decade and that part I’m not affiliated you know in a formal way I am part of of the University I helped found at the moment I’m I’m not teaching there and my own research wall and co

uldn’t get it approved in the University about doing anything illegal to the amount actually giving anyone any drugs I’m asking a lot of people how they’re using them in very specific way of but I understand very much people being a little nervous to be on wide-open shows like yours yeah I mean most it’s the human experience and like to cover a range of subjects send it we’ve had a scientist from Stern on so and had a relation like these these medicine that like to call them that can really open doors to your psyche and help you help people with their traumas of moving on here in their their hero for year in the field of psychedelics why I think I look up to some of my younger friends of my probably my main here would be like Alisha Danforth who is doing the breakthrough research with Charlie Grove at UCLA and they are working with people with high functioning autistic of which with Ashford and these are people who don’t have any clinical problem but they often lack, social awareness and it turns out that using psychedelic or MDMA and in particular the case they can much more easily learn to be more sociable and basically have much richer personal life and Alisha is my hero because she worked at the edge of the field decided

that she wanted to be a clinician working with people went back to school got a PhD have a brilliant one and then basically with Charlie said the government we want to do a research project for people who are not mentally ill and that’s a whole breakthrough role in Griffis is that John Hopkins is another hero is a very very distinguished full professor long background in the addiction field and he again took the the risk of both his career his reputation and his his job to set up a series of research projects that have really opened psychedelics once again to to researchers them to physicians and so the potential patient and the other thing that the Roland did is he also did a study on do these substances encourage spiritual experience now that may seem like a no-brainer to your audience but what he was doing was making a critical rake through for the federal government which is the federal government says and I think their correct we should regulate stuff that goes into your body that should be one of the functions of government and we don’t want poison food we don’t want to medications the don’t hold medication etc. so we really do want FDA on the other hand we also want the government to stay out of our spiritual life and the Constitution really does a church and state are separate the what you do when you have a substance which shows in your body but it’s for spiritual purposes the government really had a rather that we just go away but Roland really work the through so the government said okay you can do it and the fact that it worked wonderfully and people have beautiful experiences again opened open it back up again to a whole generation of people that the two or anything about it like that your sure is all leading and allies most people probably wouldn’t pics
nothing wrong with that but I think the spinning his work Doblin who said that the most important thing that we can do is talk openly about these experiences and I agree yellow that that’s a nice thing is I’m able to do that again because I’m not involved in any institution that would be upset at my doing it so doing back your book your it why is it so important that we have a guide while we’re going through the sacred journeys well it basically a guide and it’s a little too strong a word but will have a weaker want to guide is there if you need help and also a guide is they are so that you can go as far as you wish knowing that you will be safe it’s a little bit like a safari guide were safari guide to interfere with your experience but he may say I would walk to the to the left of that path because that little clear path ahead is something in our language translates as quickly or wanted you stand behind the tree because this animal running towards us actually doesn’t like us and if you have no experience you you could make some serious mistakes and so of guide allows you to go farther and go deeper knowing that if you get in trouble you just like wag your finger or say can I talk to and they will they will help so for instance a very common experience for people having a mystical experience a feeling of of total unity before they get that they often have an experience which which seems to be like I and if they look at the guy the benefit I feel undying and obviously this thing is frightened and the guide says all that great go with it suddenly you realize will the guide seems to know something you don’t you trust the guide he cares for you it’s going to work out some of guide can be very very helpful when you basically get into areas where you don’t know what you’re doing I would have to agree completely and you picked I don’t think that you mean but it’s hard because mean you when you look at a person who is inclined to use the substances

they’re not thinking about that in doubt thinking about calling one of their friends and inviting them over while you know that the trip on asset sale they I know it yet I know I come on is some kind of right-winger in fifth with a foot it’s certain things are better with a guide things are better with another person in all I know people who do sex alone but honestly actually better with someone else yeah and and I’m I’m not trivializing it it’s that that if you’re serious then you want to do it well if you’re simply wandered through rule out watch the feeling undulate and your fantastic music take less and probably won’t get into trouble and if you do I hope the somebody nearby but sometimes very very very sophisticated us I cannot can suddenly get in trouble my feeling is why why why do that if you if you know if you can possibly avoid it in again a guide is the heavy thing rate there around them have to be with you the next room is fine that might be them I can you employment opportunity is that for sure higher real there there are people who can’t wait for these drugs to be legal to help people who are mental difficulty and so there are underground guide it it does exist that I know one group where the training takes three years so they’re taking it very seriously and of course there also risking all kinds of things by offering this kind of help While and you think that this idea of honey guide is a sort of remedy for own cultures lack of context for uses psychedelics as compared to maybe the ceremonies of these indigenous tribes or you will only look at the that the ritual little comfort eve

rywhere from ancient Greece to know to Peru they’re not nobody below and they have a guide they may call him it turned out off of that your teeth the I a shaman of priests but we have a whole tradition where most of our spiritual ceremonies are not solitary even in meditation people talk about meditation teachers or you know going to the Vento where your meditating in there somebody there other than me you can’t meditate on your own but there seems to be an inherent advantage on having somebody who’s who knows moment that you do and I don’t I don’t know it seems to be pretty obvious I’m not saying the people Two things alone but I do know if I do know the advantages of somebody else I agree so minute you get into in your book you get into the various kind of does frequencies are does levels and how some doses can be sort of mystical experiences in low dosages can sort need cognitive functions what what benefits do you think these low doses of psychedelics can bring and when you go to start your research will outline ago Down the doses fairly quickly argues LSD of the model of that’s probably best known which is around 400 µg is the area in which mystical experience is most likely to happen with a guide to going to 200 that’s the kind of psychotherapeutic benefit where you can cut through it off a lot of favors help about 12 hours of therapy and do very intense personal work but you’re not losing your not going beyond your personality as you would in the higher to when you get down to around hundred micrograms you can use that for highly technical personal and professional problem solving of the of a very ordinary nature physics in architecture and design and coding and then around 50 µg is what we would now call a concert those this is something about the culture change the history called by the with museum those and that’s where you are having a wonderful time tripping which are not goin

g you are going have much inside or much difficulty and you should have is not a guide at least the designated driver to get people say a concert at 10 µg which is a micro those that’s is that the whole new area that were just exploring where thing that you just seem to function a little better you’re a little help here a little kinder you can be creative a little longer and so that’s like improved functioning without any of the without any visual excitement so that that’s a quick run through the doses that time they get your question along the line on you how did they like to get into it a bit more mean I think it was was Francis crick who discovered the that double helix DNA and he later admitted that he was low dosing LSD with him and his friends at Cambridge and so I mean and how can we how can we use this to help us everyday well he was dosing with his friends in Cambridge actually after that time in his life and although my book gives him you psychedelics credit for the double helix I’ve been chastised by someone other research friends who say that only appeared in one newspaper article and was never verify the fifth friends that you didn’t take LSD until later so let’s look however the question of how can you use it and and when they w

ere taking LSD in Cambridge the scientists that was definitely not a daily events it was a it was a once in a while and it was clearly taking a to 12 hours and they weren’t working on science I don’t think much during that time for daily use in again you can take psychedelics they would it there what the Albert Hoffman the the developer ability said they have anti-addicting properties their peculiar class of substances with you take 100 Mike on Monday you have a certain effect if you take 100 Mike on Tuesday a lot of much less effect to take on Wednesday nothing happened know that isn’t necessarily physiological but it’s as if your system says I don’t need anymore whatever that is for a while and I and I will not I will not make use of this if you put in my system so even with micro doses taking them once every third day is more effective than taking them every second day or reject Have been you mentioned that psychedelics like any other drug me not being sure everyone and clean definitely There are variations and body chemistry how how do we acknowledge that we reference that will one way is when people say to me and they often do it really like to take LSD but and I think don’t take it regularly haven’t told you my reason I said any reason is a good reason for my point of view was it feels like it’s not a good idea don’t do it that’s one group then people who again the reason why you have a guide is people who have a very fragile ego structure may get in trouble if they take of psychedelic is not for them so this is this is it’s a little bit like flying a private plane anyone can learn to d

o it for some people will always be anxious and nervous that the uncomfortable and it’s no fun and why should they do that so I’m very much not let’s put in the drinking water I am saying I think Shogun says it is know what you’re taking them know who you are and that will be the best information you can get so if it feels like this is not a good idea don’t do it and when I’ve asked hundreds of people have you ever taken psychedelics for social pressure the answer is almost never so people do seem to have a fairly good idea of but when it’s not a good idea and if they haven’t once you have a very bad experiences probably hinted either the wrong substance for them or to wrong time of their life it’s like it’s like an internal compass yeah I mean it because of points and when you’re not meant to do it it since get away and it could bring a halt strongly and sometimes people you know people if it’s possible for people that screwup somebody will and the thing that the main thing is given the 25 million people have taken LSD stuff LSD since it became illegal incredibly few of them have had really serious problem and some have had very serious problems I’m I’m just talking with some people now and a friend of his took six hits of LSD probab

ly LSD and had a terrible experience and no know guide nobody knew anything and is now about six or seven weeks later he still very paranoid and very unhappy his parents tried to hospitalize them but the hospital terrified not only the young man but his parents labeled about so there are problems people can get into trouble yeah and they mainly get in trouble by taking too much taking something that although what is in again not having anyone around to help me let’s the students that would more have you personally ever had negative experience that experience I have yards have had a negative experience but I was aware that it was a negative experience the ending get caught in it can you share one or more without it well you do it and I don’t remember much of it but it wasn’t very interesting and I was that of suffering and whatever I was suffering in my wife would also taken of psychedelic came over to me and I said don’t worry I’ll be better just take care of yourself and she went out and had a wonderful wonderful experience and came back a few hours later in I was coming down and we managed that I think the differences it’s like when you eat something and then you have food poisoning if you know it’s food poisoning it’s awful but it’s not scary if you don’t know in a few good know that you ate anything he had no idea was going on and he didn’t know whether with something much more serious than and it was no one to talk to that’s very different so again how the people at burning Man a very good about this because they work with people in all unbelievably awful trip but when they get into the hands of the burning man helper staff what people say is we don’t ever bring anyone down we bring them through which is we take where they are in the bad trip and we begin to guide them back towards their own center and everyone center is is intrinsically healthy including if you’re very mentally dist

urbed your center is still healthy I remember a friend of mine once to phone me and she was very frightened she was very against going to physicians and she was hemorrhaging very badly and she was very frightened and then in the middle of it as she was kind of weeping and screaming of she came in a little different voice and said don’t worry I’ll be all right and I realized that was a different part of the who understood the she was hemorrhaging but it wasn’t really that dangerous and so forth and there was a part of her that was totally c

alm totally clear and totally able to function as necessary and I think if we moved more into this decriminalization it discipline be less common think it would be the paranoia around acquiring the substances in and doing them because their legal that alone is scary enough to not want to do them and I think I think part of it is being illegal is a bad part of the setting and the punisher what you bought the bad part is that setting and there’s some really bad stuff out there that folder of other stuff little collection of things: bombs which are often sold of LSD but the the the the dose will get you in serious trouble is only two or three times the dose that people like with LSD but say for most people this if you take up a big amount usually yield you’ll just have you’ll be knocked out you might even in a coma for their two which will be fine so the young man I spoke of earlier I don’t know the Tbilisi he might’ve taken something one of the involved in got in trouble so obviously it’s like in prohibition prohibition there was there was called there was in a you can get very good well distilled spirits that were good for you or have nothing else in the but you know but alcohol flavoring or you can get things that were very bad for you dangerous and when Kelly you because of that which is the illegal cannot be regulated cannot be measured cannot be you know doled out like if you go to marijuana dispensary you pretty well know what you’re being given these days because we are regulating yet it’s interesting and this whole conversation but it’s interesting that the substances affects not only the mind but the spirit as well and a big to read through your writings is the concept of how humans are connected and woven into this sort of existence of everythi

ng around them yelling how do you think that please into all this well to me it’s the fundamental realization that that you cannot be separate and once you have it it’s pretty obvious to me that her I’m standing on a rug the found some would that connects to the other through foundation I don’t think that way but but I it’s true I’m actually being held up by a whole lot of of things that I’ve had nothing to do with what they are part of my system and that realization of interconnectedness changes your worldview it also makes you aware that if you’re connected to the natural world damaging the natural world is a kind of insanity similar to say taking out a hammer and hammering on your thumb so that there is the the implication of using psychedelics and what I’ve seen is if even people are just taking concert doses what they tell me is eventually that eventually you know I I realize I’m just

not as neurotic I’m not is frightened of people I’m I’m easier to be with and I’m really liking nature more fun seeing this is a kind of natural progression just as the notion is that if you go to University you take a liberal arts degree you know you develop a certain awareness of other parts of the world other parts of your culture and that they don’t have to say you’re here to develop of a wider worldview the to say read these read books write papers about them think about it and things will unfold within the Soviet psychedelics seem to be a very useful tool for reconnecting us to the natural world which we obviously have to be a part of it is our cost many sent his last piece of advice was in take take you nature take LSD nature and take it exactly and that’s because he always last few decades of his life whenever he took a my kudos a set of usually do it when he is walking and trees that work for him so you know were were approaching the end here I mean what they mean what you think needs to be done within society that can improve your how we perceive these compounds and so were not putting people’s careers at risk by discussing them out what’s happening is a culture is moving in the direction of allowing people to explore the

ir own inner nature again we had this strange legislative clamp on everybody’s mind but it didn’t work know when I say 21 million people taken LSD since it became illegal if I throw in marijuana the figure goes up to hundred and 40 million Acheson the US so that we’ve been comfortable with Liz with working illegally actually for very long time and I now me people who you know grown up her entire lifetime there psychedelic uses in the illegal and they definitely and the other thing were getting is generational idyllic youth I was talking to a group of about 300 students at UC Santa Cruz and I often do that research was saying you raise your hand and I all of a sudden wondered how many of them had parents who would use psychedelics I asked that question about 85% of them had parents who use psychedelics the were talking about the real culture is quite riddled with people with psychedelic experiences and that percentage gets smaller when you go to regulators and then progress the group of the lease psychedelic experience as a group are probably legislators and I’m sure there’s some wonderful reason for that but I don’t know Are my 20 story I was this cooking send marijuana brownies and have been out of and he won’t didn’t expect anyone to come over and my mom stopped by you just saw them and she said she she’s I disabled at hand uses say that was sent out to that you know those of the new problems with and of course with one what availability would marijuana is that eating marijuana is not the same as smoking barrel of and so people are overdosing on edible lit

tle older mothers because again because it’s a little hard to get the the the rules of the road out there yet and lecturer in Colorado and met him if you hit his the thing that blew me away I got a note on my email with the will time magazine so time magazine on the cover has the cover article is about marijuana science and I’m I’m fairly blown away amendment National Geographic comes it and on the cover of National Geographic is there feature article is about what they call weed science and then I also get science news which is a digestive of hard science and it doesn’t feel, popularized but but it’s of the got another big magazine like 2030 pages and it’s cover is about designer drop about the various kinds of of offshoot sort of off any variations on the psychedelics and I think the cultures really moving fast here we really better get the legislators on board before they really you are are left behind in the acceptance of these substances in healthy ways Is one of the healthy ways of course is called pleasure and there was an editorial in the Stanford daily it says it should not be a crime to enjoy pleasure Jim it’s it’s been a pleasure man you are really interesting person I really appreciate your time where can

people find your work in by your book whelping by my book any place else online or in bookstores but probably better online and I know you know Amazon and Barnes & Noble and so forth the use copies unfortunately are not much cheaper than the new copies so sorry about that and reaching me if you wanted to the 20 a lot more by carrying on about various things James Fadiman.com of the whole stack of both videos and audios and I’m a Jane I’m a J Fadiman at Gmail if people want to reach me and I generally answer things eventually putting any not there Respect well if it’s in that idea that mainly because people who are interested my kudos thing are sometimes right save you have of you recommend a way of doing it sometimes people right in saying I had like the micro-dosing please send me illegal drugs in the mail and I write back of Felipa drug is safe and I say in I had a sense it’s sweet because there there going up and then without worrying about it and I write them back to say I’d actually particularly since I’ve written the book I really don’t do anything illegal especially that is what is one of the the the pains one has when we one becomes a somewhat public figure is that I really in a straighter than so many of my straighter the drug use of the my friend these days but but will make sacrifices you want to know if your mom eventually felt that that was okay yeah she loved it and and the my dad was not happy but yellow he get that’s probably what it was Arato’s it awfully good talking to you to thank you so much serve this is the human experience read it out here with my guess is a pleasure having you want to rethink so much and loose you guys next week about thankful

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