Transcript for Episode 4 – Tom Shroder – Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal

explain for the people who don’t know

what else T is the discovery that that

Albert Hofmann made and know the bicycle

day and that would be interesting to

hear your perspective well I mean Albert

Hofmann is a fascinating character and

there’s something that is has never been

pointed out as far as I know but when he

was a boy he was walking through the

woods in Switzerland near his home and

he had this moment of spontaneous

transcendence where suddenly he had this

experience of a sort of a greater

reality the sense of unity with

everything in the universe and this was

so meaningful to him and yet so hard to

express that he really felt that he

wished that he could be a poet or or

paint or something to convey what this

experience was and then he realized very

painfully that he wasn’t a poet and then

he wasn’t a painter and he wasn’t an

artist of any kind so he kind of did a

hundred eighty degrees and became a

scientist and the real irony of the

thing is it took him from sort of not

being able to express this as an artist

through position where as a scientist he

actually found a substance that actually

delivered those experiences it didn’t

just describe them but delivered them

and that’s one of think that’s one of

the 20th century’s great ironies and

what happened was that he was you know

the he was looking for a substance that

had some kind of medical use and he was

hoping based on previous compounds that

were similar that maybe this would help

stimulate respiration or blood


right and so he was going he was taking

the basic ingredient that they knew was

active medically which was lysergic acid

and adding different elements to it and

in his 25th attempt yeah dad I asked mom

I’d which

was a it was a derivative of ammonia and

you know nothing really happened the the

people in the lab said well it has some

activity but it’s not as good as stuff

we already have so basically it’s a

washout and for some reason this one

compound stuck in his head and he called

it an odd presentiment that there was

something more to this

to the point where five years later in

1943 he went to his lab and decided to

resynthesize this and he called it and

it was in lab notes it was called lsd-25

and so he did and as he was doing it he

began to feel funny and he he to the

point where he needed to go home and lie

down and he had these like sort of

visions and these weird colors and stuff

and and he so he went in the next day

and he said that was really strange but

he didn’t think it could be the LSD

because he had been exposed to such a

tiny amount of it

he didn’t it was like hundreds of times

less than any psychoactive chemical no

right so he didn’t think it could be it

so he he’d like thought maybe it was the

formaldehyde that they’d been using in

the lab and he likes intentionally

sniffed that but nothing similar

happening so then he sort of came to the

conclusion that it happened to the LSD

and he intentionally took what he

thought was a very tiny amount of it and

that’s where you said he had this thing

where he had to leave because he felt

that he was maybe going insane and only

his lab assistant knew he was doing this

and this was in the middle of world war

two they didn’t have access to a car so

in order to get home they both had to

ride bicycles and he said he felt like

he was he felt like that he was like

frozen in time and that the more he

pedaled he did wasn’t getting anywhere

but that his lab assistant later said

that no they made very

a good time and they got to his place

and he didn’t know what was going on he

didn’t know if he had poisoned himself

he thought maybe he was going to die or

go crazy and and they call the doctor

and all his vital signs were normal and

there was nothing wrong with him

physically physiologically maybe he had

a slightly accelerated heart rate or

something but he had this amazing

experience and then the following

morning he felt like the whole world was

new and he went in and he realized that

he had come upon a really remarkable

discovery so anyway they began sending

this out to researchers around the world

and at first they thought in the initial

sort of letter that they sent out what

it said you know maybe this creates a

short-duration psychosis and that maybe

it would be useful for psychiatrists to

experience this so they knew what their

psychotic patients were going through

well what happened was people started

self experimenting with it and they had

experiences that were more like Albert

Hoffman’s experience of childhood that

were revelatory and that they didn’t at

all feel crazy in fact they felt like

they were tuned into something sort of a

higher consciousness and a higher

intelligence and had remarkable

experiences that were very meaningful to

them and that remained meaningful after

the effects of the drug wore off and so

a researcher he was actually a med

student at the time he first took LSD

but he became a researcher a man named

Stan Grof began to see its potential for

use in therapy and in fact before he was

done he had done thousands of sessions

with with patients therapy sessions and

what he began to believe was that the

that the LSD basically gave the patient

access to what was happening in his

subconscious and the issues that were

most important at that time and so that

it kind of naturally brought up the

things that a person needed to deal with

to resolve whatever kind of

psychological or emotional problems they

were having Wow at every session they

came up with exactly the right material

that they needed to work on and they

also had because of their heightened

perspective they were able to have

insights into these issues that helped

him the unravel them and he and this was

replicated in you know thousands of

patients around the world and from the

early 1950s through the 1960s

this was seen as a revolution in

psychiatry and and it was being used

with great success for a wide range of

things you know from autism to

alcoholism to drug addiction to

depression to anxiety to traumatic

stress disorder and it was being used in

a in a remarkable variety of things with

terrific success and under clinical

conditions with a remarkable amount of

safety considered considering the

potency of this droid and and it got to

the point where it suddenly got out into

the into the public and wild into the

wild and was being used on the street

and and it freaked people out it got

associated with the political movement

the anti-war movement the end

anti-authority in general and it really

threatened the people who made the laws

to the point where they just stomped on

it they made it as illegal as heroin and

they stopped all research and of course

all these laws did very little if


to stop the illegal and uncontrolled use

of it but it was extremely effective in

wiping out all research and as one

researcher said it was almost as if

psychedelic drugs were undiscovered and

in fact by you know as the years went by

the general public

almost completely forgot that this drug

started out as being a tool for SIA a

very successful tool for psychiatry most

people don’t even know that and and the

story in acid test really I tell is of

the small group of people who couldn’t

live with the idea that we were writing

off this incredibly promising kind of

therapeutic aid forever and against huge

odds an incredible bias they basically

labored for 30 years to get to the point

where we are now where it’s once again

being tested under fda-approved an

fda-approved clinical trials and again

no surprise to the people who had

followed this all along it’s having

really remarkable success in dealing

with very difficult issues that are not

successfully treated by any other

therapy what’s fascinating is that how a

lot of the antidepressant medication was

supposedly founded from the LSD research

with the early serotonin receptors in

neurotransmitter mm-hmm yeah well but in

fact the whole science of the brain

really started with LSD because around

the same time just after Hoffman came

across LSD which you know had this huge

transformation on perception and

awareness they discovered that this

compound serotonin which had been known

to constrict being blood to constrict

blood vessels but they were surprised to

find that there was a very large amounts

of it in the brain

they had no idea what it did there and

then they suddenly noticed that the

chemical structure of serotonin was

extremely similar to LSD and then the

light went off in their head and they

thought oh my gosh you know this is

something that has an effect on but

thinking this is serotonin is is a

compound that is involved in the way we

think and feel and so that was really

the beginning of brain science and that

was also inaugurated this year or where

they began to use other side

psychotropic medicines in psychiatry and

but as it emerged you know these

antidepressants and in anti-anxiety

drugs they all affect the the

neurotransmitter systems in the brain

just as psychedelics do but the thing

about the way they use is that those

drugs treat on an unconscious level if

you take an antidepressant you’re not

aware of any I mean you might feel

things but it’s not like you’re thinking

about your problems conscious right and

with psychedelics the healing comes

because you everything’s being brought

into your awareness and what healed and

it’s not like you know like in

penicillin if you have an infection you

take penicillin and completely blow your

level of awareness the penicillin kills

the infection and then your wound heals

but when you have a problem and you’re

doing psychedelic therapy what happens

is those problems are brought into your

awareness and you are actually aware of

the insights that are the key to sort of

unraveling these psychic tangles that

have caused your problems in the first

place so you were very aware of the

healing and in fact your awareness is

what’s doing the healing it’s not the

drug this drug is enabling this

heightened awareness and this heightened

access to

what’s going on and you’re normally

subconscious part of your thank you what

do you think that heightened access is

do you think that’s some access to some

kind of hyper dimensional realm or some

other kind of universal consciousness

that’s being tapped in you that I think

I think well the simplest explanation is

the one that all of us actually sort of

came up with way back in 1958 when he he

took masculine and he thought that he

saw not a altered reality or not a kind

of you know hallucinatory reality what

he thought was he was seeing reality in

its entirety for the first time ever and

what he decided was that the normal

function of normal consciousness is to

tune out much of reality to kind of it’s

a filter because you know the idea that

being that reality is too big too

awesome to sort of go about our daily

business survival without this

distraction of this unbelievable sort of

you know literally mind-blowing reality

that’s out there that is the true

reality and that so we’ve learned to use

our brain to kind of tamp down you know

it’s like in a camera where you’re

letting in less light so you can focus

on something well that’s what he thought

the brain did was that it kind of tamped

everything down and and tried to screen

out stuff and keep things in sort of

manageable categories so you could go

about your daily business of doing the

hunting and the gathering et cetera and

that what psychedelics is was it shut

down that that filter and it allowed the

you know full sort of magnificent

overwhelming awesomeness of reality in

which if you were doing it in a

situation where you were safe and

protected and you were under secure

circumstances that could be incredibly

valuable because you know there was a

lot to learn from reality that we

normally screen

so I think that actually there’s new

fMRI research that’s going on that is

kind of showing the same thing what it’s

showing is is that you know originally

they thought it made sense to think

because of the such a because the

psychedelic experience is so essentially

big you know it’s so sort of loud and

colorful and it bigger than life they

thought that it must that the

psychedelic drugs must increase brain

activity but when they did an fMRI what

they found was no it reduces brain

activity so how can that be then what

they realized was that the parts of the

brain it reduced were the parts of the

brain that that screamed that sort of

ordered things that that sort of created

that constructive of ego and it

diminished that which meant that the

parts of the brain that received the raw

input from from the outside world were

left unfettered and and so again I mean

the the fMRI stuff went right in with

that idea that that psychedelics what it

does is it shuts down the reducing valve

on your brain and allows in a much sort

of fuller and richer reality that’s

found that’s fascinating so so do you

think do you think that do you think

that through this sort of I mean Rick

Rick Doblin I guess founded the hippie

in the woods as you call him right yeah

he he founded the Maps Institute and all

of the work that they were they were

doing there I mean it it really took a

long time and well I mean doblin is just

one of these you know great American

originals it totally self invented you

know he was he was he was basically a

college dropout who actually at one

point went to his father like halfway

through his freshman year in college and

said you know look I’m having these LSD


is that I’m finding very difficult but I

feel like they’re important and so what

I want to do is I want to drop out of

college and go out to California and

study LSD and I want you to support me

while I do this and what I say you know

what I say and in in acid test is you

know it’s like maybe one father in a

hundred thousand would say would not say

you want me to do what

and fortunately Rick had that one father

in a hundred thousand and he and and so

he went out and actually studied with

Stan Grof because what he realized was

what happened was he is having these

difficult experience with LSD

where he felt like he was seeing the

flaws of his personality but that he

kept shutting down before he could do

anything about it right yeah I remember

that yeah yeah he kind of hit a wall is

he like Oh fear huh and he couldn’t get

past it and then he read and he thought

am I going crazy is this nuts and then

he read Stan Grof book that described

the process that Groff had observed

about how people how with therapy with

somebody they’re helping somebody that

you could get past that actually that

difficulty that he was reading was

actually an opportunity and what it did

was it was bringing up his his biggest

problems and allowing him to have

conscious access to it and to possibly

unravel it but he wasn’t able to do that

by himself and so but suddenly reading

Groff’s book he thought I’m not crazy

this actually is valuable and it could

be valuable and I want to learn how to

do psychedelic therapy and and but first

I want to do it on myself and get better

get around that blog so he went out to

California and he and just this is just

exactly at the time that they were

making LSD as illegal as heroin and all

psychedelics by you know in nature and

they were trying to make all

psychedelics illegal also

and he was thinking oh you know just as

I’m discovering this it they’re shutting

it down

so what Groff was doing was you know

crop took the attitude was you know what

it’s not the drug that’s doing the

healing it’s the altered state of

consciousness that’s that’s allowing the

sealing to happen and he said throughout

this centuries humans have found

non-drug ways to alter consciousness and

so that’s what I need to do is I need to

find a way that’s legal to achieve the

same kind of state of altered

consciousness and he came up with this

combination of sort of hyperventilation

and and loud pounding music that got

people into very successfully in a lot

of cases it’s called breath work and and

so he was using that and so Rick went

out and he learned that he you know he

learned the principles of how to help

people through situations where they’re

in altered states and having difficult

material coming up and but at the same

time he was going out to the beach

without graphs knowledge and in doing

LSD etc and so then what happened was at

one of these retreats somebody said you

might want to try this it’s MDMA and and

at first he didn’t think much of it but

then he took it and he realized that it

was a state again where you know he was

sort of put out of himself into an

altered state but there wasn’t that you

know there were there wasn’t that fear

it almost naturally took that fear away

so he thought this is going to be even

more important in therapy than LSD

potentially or at least it’s going to

serve a an important and somewhat

different purpose especially in in cases

like PTSD where the big blockage to

healing is that the traumatic memory


causing all the problems is repressed

it’s – it’s repressed because the brain

regards it as too threatening too

frightening to go near there yeah but

because MDMA lowers that fear it allows

people to approach that memory in which

they have to do to get over it and

without the the sort of panic reaction

that causes all their symptoms and the

other advantage was this was in in the

early 80s and MDMA was kind of a new

drug to the regulatory people so it

wasn’t yet illegal yeah so he and he

they all knew it was gonna be but you

know he felt like now we have a number

of years so of course Rick he got in

touch with a high up at the UN who had

written a book about how you know there

was some kind of there needed to be some

kind of world spirituality in order to

get around all this war that would keep

having and Rick thought well you know I

agree with your book but you didn’t

mention psychedelic drugs and I think

that’s an important thing and so

unbelievably the guy writes back and

says you know you make a good point and

I think there are others who would like

to hear from you and he listed some

spiritual leaders in different faiths we

can judge and so Rick and Rick took that

as saying he wants me to send them MDMA

and he did so he sent MDMA dog like you

know these these world-renowned

religious figures and some of them

actually did it and and they said this

is really valuable and so they were

making statements like that right about

the time that the government was going

to make this illegal and in so Rick sort

of just by the sheer force of his intent

yeah insinuated himself in this in in

this sort of culture of people who had

been important in the psychedelic

movement of the 50s and 60s

and they were kind of connected at

Esalen in California and Rick just kind

of insinuated himself that and he kind

of said we’ve got to fight this you know

we can’t just let them make this illegal

because it says in the law that if if

the drug has a recognized medical value

it cannot be placed on Schedule one and

he says we’ve been you know there have

been therapists who’ve been using this

successfully for years everybody knows

that this has an accepted medical

purpose and so we’ve got to fight this

and he ended up leading this charge to

when the DEA said that they were going

to put MDMA on Schedule one and he and

he sort of got all these all these

psychiatrists and therapists to write

these letters the DEA protesting so they

had a year-long hearing in which the DEA

brought all their evidence against

against MDMA and Rick and his colleagues

sort of got the evidence for it and on

every point the judge ruled for Rick and

his colleague said MDMA definitely has

accepted medical use it’s not highly

addictive and it’s and it’s not

dangerous when given under medical

supervision and just down the line it

was a slam dunk unfortunately it was an

administrative hearing not a court

hearing and so the DEA said sorry we

reject the judge and in fact the DEA

even called the judge biased which they

later apologized for it but anyway they

you know thinking they just said it’s

our football so we’re taking it and

going huh

Varian show so MDMA became illegal and

at that point some of the people that

Rick had been working with said well we

either have to just drop it or go

underground but we used to do that and

he and he founded Matt

the multidisciplinary Association for

psychedelic studies and he made it his

mission and people thought he was crazy

I mean some people still think he’s

crazy but but he actually made this work

and it took him 15 years to really get

the first fda-approved clinical study of

MDMA off the ground and that’s where the

third person in my book

Michael Minho fir comes in he was a


who had had really become interested in

the power of altered states and in

psychological healing to the point where

he went down to Peru and spent the week

or 10 days doing ayahuasca with a shame

and he came back and he wanted he he

felt he was going to have to go out of

the country somewhere to do this

research and meanwhile Rick couldn’t

find a psychiatrist who would who would

even put his name to this research

because they it was too punishing

I mean people would destroy their

careers by even suggesting that

psychedelics might not be this evil

poison so when Michael MIT Hoffer came

up to Rick at a conference and said I’d

like to do this research on on using

psychedelics for therapy what country do

you think I can do it in Rick was saying

are you a psychiatrist and he said yes

and Rick said you can do it here and

you’re gonna and I’m gonna help you so

that sort of became their team and the

third person in acid test that I follow

is a Marine who Nicolas right

Nicolas Blackston and he you know he he

joined the Marines in time to go to Iraq

he had these horrific combat experiences

where he both had to watch his friends

get sort of gut shot and bleed out in

front of him as well as you know shoot

at kids like 12 14 year old kids who

somebody had given in a cake

47 and told to shoot at the Americans

and he had to like sit there on his 50

caliber machine gun blowing away these

children Wow which he felt horribly

guilty for of course and he felt guilty

for not being able to save his friends

so it was a real mess and he was injured

himself and he came back with really

terrible PTSD and to the point where he

really thought he wasn’t going to

survive that he couldn’t stand it he’s

gonna have to kill himself and that’s

when he read about these first studies

that they were doing to treat it with

MDMA and he and basically the the climax

of the book is when he gets the therapy

himself right did you have extensive

time with Rick Doblin as a result of the

research on this or what was that like

well it’s very funny my my history with

Rick Doblin is is very synchronistic I

was a it goes all the way back to 1975

when I was a student journalist at the

University of Florida I was the editor

of the college newspaper there and I

grew up in Sarasota so I was home for

spring break and there was like a little

blurb in the local paper about this

hippie out in the woods building this

magnificent house I mean it was like

these huge cedar beams and stained-glass

windows and and Riverrock floor I mean

it was really spectacular and so and I

recognized when in his philosophy you

know I had some experience with

psychedelics in college you know it was

in Gainesville Florida and they had

these cow pastures out there and in the

cows pastures brew the psilocybin

mushrooms so we’d go out into the

pastures sneak under the fences and grab

the mushrooms right out of the cow dung

and you know we’d either boil or Marie

died me not you know and I didn’t do

this frivolously I was seeking you know

I knew from the very first experience I

knew that this was something in

and something big and I had certain

experiences that I that you know when

the drugs were off they were every bit

as valuable as I thought they were one

that when I was happening and just as an

example there was one time where I I did

the mushrooms and I started obsessing

about anxieties and concerns that I had

and then that kept building this is like

I was worried about something that was

happening that day then I started

worrying about the future and I and it

was like this enormous weight and I

could feel it it was like it was a real

boulder or something on my chest and I

had this vision suddenly you know it

just got worse and worse the point where

I could barely breathe and then I

suddenly had this breakthrough vision

where I saw that it was a boulder yeah

but the reason it was on my chest was I

was holding it to myself with my own

arms that I was actually choosing to

hold that Boulder there and all I had to

do is let my arms go and the boulder

would drop away and I did and all the

anxieties and worries disappear and so

the rest of my life since then really

I’ve known that that was a possibility

and I’ve understood that to a certain

extent all negative feelings and

emotions that you have or choice you’re

choosing the feeling to to an extent and

then if you can somehow develop the

muscle you’re able to let them go

incredibly valuable thing that I never

would have gotten to be if I hadn’t had

this vision because you know on the

psilocybin experiences it’s not just an

intellectual thought you’re not just

thinking oh well maybe I’m choosing to

and something you’re actually feeling

and seeing it in in a very concrete way

you know so that I actually could let

the boulder go and feel it fall away so

I I knew that it was valuable and I knew

that from the things Rick was saying

that what he was really saying was he

was trying to take the things he learned

in the in the in the psychedelic

experience and put them into literally

into concur

by building this house so anyway I went

I went down there and I did a story on

him for the sunday supplement of the

college newspaper and that was in 1975

and then I went about my business and

when I got out of college you know I got

a career I got a family

there weren’t cow pastures around so I

you know for all those and they were

still illegal so I stopped doing the

psychedelics I didn’t do them anymore

but I still remembered their value and

then I was 10 years later I was the

editor of the Miami Herald Sunday

magazine and I saw a little blurb in the

Tampa paper that there is a sort of wild

wild man hippie who was proclaiming that

this new drugs new psychedelic and the

MA was the magic silver bullet in

psychiatry and in psychotherapy and I

was reading it and I thought Rick Doblin

that’s the hippie in the woods that’s

the same guy so I assigned a reporter

and we went to go and do a cover story

on this and I think we called it I think

the headline was a Timothy Leary for the

80s so then another 15 years go by and

and I am now at or 18 years I guess and

I’m now editor of The Washington Post

magazine and I see a little blurb in the

New York Times about how Harvard is

doing the first clinical study of

psychedelics since they wrote Tim Leary

out of town on a rail and as I’m reading

further it turns out that it’s being

sponsored by this organization called

maps and that the founder and director

of the organization is a guy named Rick

Dobrow and I’d say wait a second like

this is the same guy so I said this time

I’m gonna do a story on it and I called

him on the phone and he not only

remembered who I was he said I have the

story you read for college paper and the

story he wrote from the Miami Herald

Sunday magazine on my desk right

now because just this morning I was

showing them to my board of directors

and what he was trying to do was make

the point that he had come a long way in

his image from this wild man Tim Leary

character to somebody who was able to

successfully deal with you know the most

important and conservative institutions

in the country like you know Harvard

claimed psychiatric hospital right which

was great except that it wasn’t entirely

true because the mcclain hospital

changed leadership and the new president

said we don’t want anything to do with

Rick Doblin

that guys are crazy hippie freedom and

so they said we’re not gonna accept

money for maps basically I mean it’s a

long story but basically that study

never really got off the ground

but at the same time he had done this

work with Michael meadow for him and

middle of hurt was had just started a

study in South Carolina where they were

using MDMA to treat mostly women victims

of rape and sexual abuse so I went down

there and I was so impressed with what I

saw that I knew that I wanted to write a

book about this but I also knew that you

know publishers might you know might

look at this a little warily and and so

I knew that at the time the Iraq war

it’s already started and already we were

beginning to see an unbelievably high

percent as many as 20% of people who

served in Iraq we’re coming home with

PTSD and it was clear this is going to

be an immense problem and so and I knew

that Michael and Rick were planning to

do their next study was going to be

veterans with combat related PTSD and I

said that’s the thing that will get

people to take this seriously because

everybody’s aware and feels I think

guilty that we’re sending these people

these young people to serve us and

they’re coming home this badly injured

and wounded yeah and so I had to wait

for that

happen and then I also had to wait a

certain amount of time after the therapy

before I could even talk to these people

and then I had to find somebody who was

willing to reveal all their most

intimate you know dark and scary secrets

that they were like talking about under

the influence of psychedelic drug and to

do it completely fully with her name and

everything and fortunately that’s that’s

when I found Nick Blackston who was so

moved by how this had helped him and so

guilty that he was leaving his comrades

sort of behind where they couldn’t have

access to this that he decided he was

willing to put himself out there he

thought maybe it would help advance the

therapy hmm

very very interesting stuff every night

definitely I I feel like you you spent

some time covering ayahuasca and DMT and

and so I feel like I feel like across

the spectrum of psychedelics there is

this sort of breakthrough that happens

and we’re able to somehow connect with I

mean how would you term it how would you

term that that moment I I know that it

you said that it allows you to kind of

see reality for for what it is but I

mean all these drugs that are illegal

are now helping all these people now why

are they I mean why you know it’s not me

still leave in helping people for

thousands of years this is the truth I

mean this has been used in healing and

in spiritual development in almost every

other culture around the world you know

and even in Western culture and you know

and the in ancient you know in the

ancient times

they had these ecstatic visions and

people think that yes they were some

kind of psychedelic drug that they were

using so it’s it’s new to us as in our

materialistic sort of science-based

Western culture but it’s not new

world and I think that all these drugs

you know have in common is that it’s

it’s about the experience it’s not about

the drug really it’s about the

experience that the drug helps bring

about hmm dr. G when I add something to

that I definitely I mean from my

personal experiences in that realm that

seems to be the case when you anticipate

MDMA actually being a prescription drug

well that I mean that’s a thing that’s

really important to focus on I think

that given the fact that there are all

these phase 2 trials going on and

they’re all having you know you can’t

you’re never supposed to predict the

success of ongoing studies but remember

this they had almost twenty years of

successful use of these drugs in the 50s

and 60s so it’s not really I’m not

really it’s not really all that

suspenseful to me you know as one of the

researcher said we know this works you

know we’re not trying to discover

whether it works we know this works

we’re just trying to prove it in a way

that the mainstream will accept and and

that’s going to happen but the problem

is that the Phase three trials which are

required before it becomes a

prescription drug it involves hundreds

of subjects it has to be done in like a

dozen different locations it costs tens

of millions of dollars and meanwhile

maps is this little like nonprofit and

they’re they’re raising money in like

fives and tens and twenties on IndieGoGo

campaigns and stuff so it’s gonna really

stretch this out and Rick is like you

know forecasting in in like under ten

years but I don’t every forecast he’s

made has been incredibly overly

optimistic and at the rate they’re going

I wouldn’t be surprised if we take 15

years before this is a prescription drug

that is too long to wait that’s way too

yeah and and the really tragic thing is

that they’re about there is

is half a million that’s coming home who

are going to have lifelong PTSD without

appropriate treatment without treatment

that’s going to really help them get to

the root of it and this is going to cost

us in disability and medical treatment

what you know that we owe these vets the

estimate is this going to cost us like a

trillion dollars over the next thirty


that’s isn’t like Canada Canada has more

suicides than deaths for their army now

and and they’re now and plus 22 that’s a

day or successfully committing suicide

twice that many are attempting it and a

significant portion of that is related

to unresolved PTSD so you would think

that the Pentagon which has you know a a

multi billion dollar budget you know

they you know I don’t know what I always

say is they have enough change in their

couch cushions to fund this research and

move it along quickly but so far they

have not contributed a single dime and

why is that it’s because of this

lingering stigma that LSD is somehow

like a demon drug or that psychedelics

are weird or you know about you know

it’s about some kind of you don’t think

that they’re making money through these

pharmaceutical companies no no no the

you mean well nobody’s gonna make money

on psychedelics because it’s you can’t

patent yeah and

because unlike other drugs that are

given in psychiatry you don’t have to

keep giving it over somebody’s life time

you get you do a therapy over a handful

of times and the problems are resolved

you know maybe you need to come back

once every three years you that’s maybe

that’s why it’s still legal it’s cuz

it’s actually what I that’s why they’re

not getting investors because there’s no

money to be made in this really yeah so

you know they’re not really getting

investors to do it so that really means

that you know the end plus the FDA could

declare this an urgent need

and fast-tracked all these incredibly

time-consuming trials that they’re doing

but they’re not doing that in the end

the government is not contributing a

dime to this and you know what I was I

went on an NPR show the Diane Rehm Show

and I was trying to find somebody from

the Pentagon to go on to discuss this

with me and I had a contact in there and

in the military and he communicated with

someone who would have been appropriate

and he showed me the email that he got

back and the guy says oh no this is much

too dangerous for folks in uniform to

talk about this and that just drove me

crazy because you know it’s dangerous to

talk about it you know leaving

half-a-million vets with severe PTSD

untreated is not dangerous but it’s

dangerous to discuss even the

possibility that this might be an

effective therapy you know it really is

is insane but it’s it’s almost sick is

sickening like doesn’t there seem to be

some kind of almost global consciousness

shift where enough people are actually I

mean because of podcast because of

access information because the internet

are starting to recognize that you know

these are valid forms of not even just

psychotherapy these are these are almost

in an even ayahuasca you know these are

inalienable rights like be able to

control your consciousness is it is a

distinct human right and what’s it going

to take me and we go through these

shifts like the 60s had it and now there

seems to be this other uprising right

now you know is this going to be the

next wave when people kind of tell the

government to go screw themselves like

how long is it gonna keep going on until

well I mean I mean certainly there are a

lot of people who do it illegally but I

don’t want to do it illegally I would

want to do it legally but that you know

that you know that’s another question

because this is I mean to be honest this

is not just something that is important

for people with you know known

psychiatric conditions Johns Hopkins did

a study where they gave psilocybin to

normal completely healthy individual

you’ve never done psychedelics before

and 70% of them at the end said

described it as one of the five most

significant experiences of their lives

these are just normal people without any

any presenting problems so that suggests

that it has value I mean if it’s some

one of the five most significant

experience in their lives and and then

like thirty percent said it was the

single most significant experience of

their life and this is taking a high

dose of psilocybin in a you know

basically in a land of office lounge

so obviously this has some value for in

in terms of personality development and

life satisfaction that could be of will

help to almost anybody but that’s a

whole different thing because you know

the the course that they’re on now is by

within the medical establishment proving

that is an effective therapy for a given

condition that’s the tractor on they’re

gonna get there it shouldn’t take

fifteen years but it might because the

you know nobody’s kicking in with the

big government money to hurry this along

because of the urgent need but the use

of it you know there are people

concerned about saying well look there’s

this guy named Bob Jesse who who founded

something called the Council on

spiritual practices and he said look I

don’t want I want to know what will it

take so that these drugs can be

judiciously used for people to have

religious experiences to have primary

religious experiences and you know

there’s not really an answer to that

question yet I mean you know you see

what’s happening with marijuana we’re at

first it became approved for medical

uses and now a lot of states are

legalizing it I think that psychedelics

even have a bigger stigma than marijuana

as had you know

the experience is so powerful I think

that people find that frightening it’s

almost like you know the the first time

Hoffman took it when he didn’t know what

it was going to do he was afraid it was

driving them is going to make them go

crazy and I think that people who don’t

understand it see the you know the size

of the experience and think oh it’s

about making people go insane reefer

madness yeah so yeah that’s a different

question about can it ever be sort of

integrated into our site I mean there

are approved religions who legally can

use ayahuasca or in the case of the

Native American church peyote and

mescaline as part of their religious

observance right so I mean you know

maybe they’ll be churches that pop up

which have that right and you join the

church you know that’s what Leary was

trying to do they had a they had a they

tried this like in Institute this idea

of a church that use psychedelics as

sacrament do you think there’s almost

like an agenda behind it that they don’t

want people having access

whoever they is perhaps the government

doesn’t want people like having access

to these higher realms of consciousness

because of some form of understanding or

whatever access they get in these realms

no no I think they just don’t understand

them and they just lump them in with you

know all all sorts of other things that

have caused problems in society like

heroin or alcohol and and think you know

they think that they’re similarly that

they’re like you know a lot of people

think and even on some comments you know

when excerpts of the book of run in

various places and some people say you

know how crazy is to think that you know

these people who have these problems can

solve them by escaping reality see

that’s what they think is that this is

that these drugs create an imaginary

world you know a world a false image of

the world and that it’s an escape from

reality and

you know one of the original researchers

who was using it to treat alcoholism was

saying no it’s a it’s an emergency

earning of reality an enhancement in the

of it a closer encounter with it so the

research says that LSD is non-toxic not

addictive right well yeah yes I mean

it’s it’s well some in again and like

1960 psychiatrists did a survey of all

the research that have been done that

thousands of doses that had been

administered and said that for such a

powerful psychoactive drug it was it was

remarkably safe you know it does have

some dangers there there’s there’s a

syndrome that sometimes happens rarely

happens where you you have this altered

visual perception that lingers after the

drug that persists certainly

uncontrolled use can be dangerous

because people have these anxiety

reactions to it if they don’t have

somebody in a you know to prepare them

for the experience that’s why set and

setting has always been seen as so

important somebody who goes into it with

understanding what the experience is

going to be like their intent is to you

know is to sort of use this for personal

exploration they have somebody there who

is protecting them from the outside

world as they’re doing this and also to

kind of reassure them if they get into

one of these anxiety reactions but

people have needed hospitalization as a

result of this when those conditions

haven’t been met so you know there are

this is not something to be done lightly

or casually or in any kind of situations

that aren’t highly control yeah we had a

one of our rotation one of our

psychiatry rotational PPD the

Hallucigenia yes order

I think there was I don’t want to give

away you know any information about this

patient but he he did asked it I think

like over a hundred times and we were

interviewing him and he just kept having

these like hallucinations and I remember

we were asking he’s like what do you see

he’s like this just demons like all over

and I’m like what do you mean he’s like

he’s there all over you well that’s not

that’s not the visual distortions that

sounds like psychosis to me and that’s

the other thing is that people who

aren’t properly screened people who have

a history of mental illness could have

their mental illness sort of exasperated

by the psychedelic experience so you

know that’s another danger of it it’s

people people who have this pre-existing

issues with mental health and psychosis

etc that’s certainly not advisable for

them to be doing it psychedelic drugs

and it sounds like this guy certainly

had a say active psychosis on going

there he was I mean he played along well

I mean he was a great guys just feel bad

for him there’s just demons and angels

apparently yeah well it’s not fun being

psychotic that’s for sure well I just I

just think that you know people need to

get involved and to sort of say look

this is this is incredibly important and

promising research and you know we not

only don’t want to get in the way of it

but you know our the the institutions

that are responsible for all these men

and women who coming back from wars they

were fighting on our behalf

severely wounded and with this

persistent PTSD and they need to get it

together and get this research completed

as quickly as possible to get these

really promising treatments out there

and available to whoever needs them

there are millions of people out there

not just vets but millions of people

with all kinds of of psychiatric

difficulties that could be helped by

this therapy right

Tom I got a quick question do you have

any advice for any aspiring writers out

there yeah I was reading some stuff on

your website it resonates I was reading

Stephen King’s on writing what uh just

what are some things that you would

you’d recommend to some people that are

interested in writing well I I mean the

the thing that I discovered was I wanted

to be a writer I was interested in

writing fiction when I was in college

and so I thought about it a lot and then

I suddenly realized you know there’s one

thing missing here I’m not actually

writing anything unless I have a


I mean I’d write a story if I had a

class I wait until the deadline and then

I’d suddenly get it done but when I

didn’t have a class I didn’t write a

story so I decided well I need to put

myself in a situation where I have lots

of deadlines so that’s when I joined the

college paper so I mean the first thing

you gotta do is you gotta write if you

want to be a writer you have to write

Parkinson’s Law and and then you know I

think that you really have to think

about what is it that I have to say

that’s original and that’s meaningful

and so I you know it’s not really about

the writing it’s about what it is that

you’re communicating so instead of you

know just this idea that you’re just

pushing out all these words it’s really

what you’re really trying to do is

you’re trying to understand something

well enough so that you have something

valuable to say about it then it becomes

an issue of trying to say that as

economically and as powerfully as

possible but the first thing is to have

something really important to say so I

think that you know I think that anybody

who wants to be a writer needs to think

about what it is that I I have would be

interesting to other people and

important for them to to learn about

that I know huh yeah that’s a that’s a

good point so so Tom I know you’re

pressed for time

where can people find your work what are

you up to right now well I am you know

right now I’m still doing a lot of

things like this talking about acid

tests which you know I’m certainly

willing to do whatever it takes to

promote that because I think it’s

important you know that people get this

perspective where they understand were

these people who are doing this research

and where these drugs are coming from to

understand the whole history the whole

thinking behind it the personalities

behind it

these aren’t crazies these are very

smart dedicated accomplished people who

have led exemplary lives so I want you

know I I definitely want people to

understand that and to also to

understand that this isn’t some weird

process by which the drug works that you

can actually it’s very transparent in

that you can see the people sort of

having these insights very consciously

that solve their problems so you know so

that’s important to me I am working on

another book and as you as you pointed

out from my website I’m in that festival

of self-loathing right now oh yeah it

seems like doing all day today but I’m

you know I’m forging forward it’s it’s

about you know I’m 60 now and I think

that a lot of people reach an age where

you know maybe they’ve been ignoring

their family roots most of their lives

but then you suddenly reach an age where

you suddenly start wondering about them

and very often it’s when everybody who

could possibly have told you about them

firsthand is dead but in my case my

grandfather was a writer and so that

gives me a particular connection with

them I never credited him with making me

wanna become a writer but now that I

think about it it seems like maybe there

was something to that but unlike most

people who suddenly get curious

about dead relatives with nobody to ask

about them nobody on the face of the

planet who can really this information

is just lost forever

but I have this unique situation where

because my grandfather’s letters and

papers and all his manuscripts and

articles about him from you know the 20s

onward are all stored in these series of

like 180 boxes at the Library of

Congress which I’ve never looked at and

so this book is about me going through

and looking through all that stuff and

you know what it is I learned about him

and myself and also it’s going to be

about the science of why do we care

about our ancestors in the first place

so that’s that’s what I’m going to be

spending the next couple years of my

life messing around with cool that

sounds interesting we’ll look forward to

that is there is there a place people

can find what you’re doing right now is

it tomorrow tonight yeah I keep my

there’s an acid test Facebook page that

sort of keeps people updated on what’s

going on with acid tests like this

podcast and whatever and also I have a

website Tom Schroeder com

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