In the early 1990s Dr. Rick Strassman, was granted approval to conduct research with one of the strongest hallucinogens, DMT. At the time he was the first scientist in over 2 decades allowed to test the effects of psychedelic drugs on live subjects, and his results were groundbreaking and led him to call DMT the “Spirit Molecule”.
But after he completed his research he still felt that a major question had been left unanswered: Could the vivid hallucinogenic experiences caused by DMT possibly be more than just hallucinations? Rick started to notice that many of his subjects had strikingly similar experiences, regardless of the life experience, culture, or religious background of the person taking the drug.
These experiences are often described as “more real than real”; they’re different to what people experience on other psychedelic drugs.
Could it be that DMT doesn’t simply TRICK our brain into dreaming up another reality – but is actually the key to “tuning” our brains in to another reality? Rick was compelled to ask if DMT, in fact, enabled us to see aspects of reality beyond the horizon of what we can usually perceive?
Determined to join the dots, Rick ventured into researching the similarities between DMT experiences and the prophetic states described by people throughout history – and particularly in the Hebrew Bible.
In this fascinating conversation, Rob and Rick deep-dive into the results of his research, discuss the validity of his underlying assumptions, and go on a journey that explores the boundaries of our understanding of the human brain and spirituality.
Click on the video above to listen to the episode – and join the conversation, NOW!
00:00:00 Episode Teaser
00:03:34 Why do we need psychedelic research?
00:04:38 What is DMT, and how does it differ from other psychedelics?
00:09:04 What triggered his interest in psychedelic research?
00:15:39 His initial research started with Melatonin
00:18:08 The frustration of greenlighting DMT research
... read more....
00:19:47 The fascinating characteristics of the pineal gland
00:22:55 Does the pineal gland produce DMT?
00:25:05 DMT’s unique ability to pass the blood-brain barrier
00:27:23 DMT’s connection to LSD and other psychedelics
00:28:14 How LSD made a blind man see
00:34:46 DMT and blind people
00:35:52 What did subjects experience on DMT?
00:42:50 Why Richard chose intervenous (vs. oral or intermuscular) application in his studies
00:45:32 The strong selection criteria to participate in the DMT studies
00:50:31 What a typical DMT trip feels like
00:51:56 The description of a breakthrough experience
00:59:20 The ego stays intact as a part of the DMT experience
01:00:57 Has Dr. Rick Strassman had his own DMT experiences?
01:05:17 How making bombs and fireworks sparked Rick’s interest in science
01:07:25 Discussion of earlier DMT studies in the 50’s
01:12:15 The results of the 1995 study and why it ended
01:19:04 Could you administer DMT in a continuous infusion?
01:32:34 The unanswered questions from the 1995 DMT study
01:34:19 Rick’s participation in a Buddhist group
01:39:30 What happened after the DMT studies
01:40:19 The “Your brain on drugs” model – bottom-up vs. top-down, or the “Buddhism approach”
01:42:37 Tuning into the frequency of the universe?
01:45:42 Dark matter and DMT
01:53:23 Good and bad Shamans
01:56:50 DMT and the enlightened state
01:59:17 The spiritual model in the Hebrew Bible and its relation to DMT
02:03:50 DMT as a tool for higher beings to communicate with us?
02:10:08 Are prophetic experiences just a side effect of drugs?
02:20:42 Western civilization is derived from biblical concepts
02:22:37 We don’t see Jesus in Head Shops often enough
02:29:10 Islam and the Hebrew Bible
02:36:38 Intermediaries vs. The Highest Beings
02:40:29 The “Big Crunch” and the cause-and-effect argument for God
02:48:08 The future of DMT research
02:48:50 Psychedelics as a cure for mental disorders
02:55:50 Microdosing psychedelics
02:59:31 About the time he met Albert Hoffmann
03:05:34 What’s next for Dr. Strassman
03:09:32 His most important message
Listen as Podcast
Dr. Rick Strassman was born in Los Angeles, California in 1952.
At the University of New Mexico, Dr. Strassman performed clinical research investigating the function of the pineal hormone melatonin in which his research group documented the first known role of melatonin in humans. He also began the first new US government approved and funded clinical research with psychedelic drugs in over twenty years. Before leaving the University in 1995, he attained the rank of tenured Associate Professor of Psychiatry, and received the UNM General Clinical Research Center’s Research Scientist Award.
In 1984, he received lay ordination in a Western Buddhist order, and co-founded, and for several years administered, a lay Buddhist meditation group associated with the same order. Dr. Strassman underwent a four-year personal psychoanalysis in New Mexico between 1986 and 1990.
He has published nearly thirty peer-reviewed scientific papers, and has served as a reviewer for several psychiatric research journals. He has been a consultant to the US Food and Drug Administration, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Veteran’s Administration Hospitals, Social Security Administration, and other state and local agencies. In 2007 he founded, with Steve Barker and Andrew Stone, the Cottonwood Research Foundation.
He currently is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.
Connect with Rick
Dr. Rick Strassman's Book
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Rob Konrad 0:00
And welcome. This is Rob Konrad from Switzerland. Today's guest is one of the most eminent authorities in the field of psychedelic research. Clinical Professor of Psychiatry. Rick Strassman has been credited as being responsible for the renaissance of scientific research on psychedelics. After between 1989 and 1995, he performed the first human studies with psychedelic drugs in the US after a ban that lasted over 20 years. His primary focus of interest evolves around DMT, he wrote about his research in the popular book “DMT: The Spirit Molecule“, which is now in its 15th printing. After stepping back from research, he took some time to dive further into the experiences that he witnessed during his studies, and especially the connection between the repeating and overlapping spiritual patterns that emerged, which ultimately led to this most recent book, “DMT and the soul of prophecy“, in which he discusses the potential overlap of DMT experiences and prophetic religious experiences. He also co-authored the book, “Inner paths to outer space“ and he is co-founder of the Cottonwood Research Foundation dedicated to consciousness research. I'm glad he found the time to talk with me today. Thank you very much and Welcome, Professor Rick Strassman.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:11
Well, thank you, Rob. Thanks for having me on your show today.
Rob Konrad 1:15
Rick, why do we need psychedelic research?
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:22
Well, I think for, at least, a couple of reasons- maybe three.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:28
One is that these drugs provide a window into the mechanisms of the mind, – how the mind works, and constructs; its version of reality, both inner and outer. And also there are therapeutic benefits to using the psychedelic, drugs in particular ways. And kind of related to the therapeutic would be in terms of enhancing us, for example, spiritual practice, creativity- those kinds of things that make people that are already doing well, even better.
Rob Konrad 2:19
I see. So, for those familiar or not familiar with what DMT is, could you give a quick introduction on what it is and how this differs from other psychedelics like LSD or psilocybin or MDMA? What are the main differences and in what ways it's better apted for research than these other compounds?
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:42
Well, so DMT stands for Dimethyltryptamine. It's a chemical cousin of both Serotonin and Melatonin. It's a small molecule- smallest of the classical psychedelics; it's not much larger than a glucose molecule with respect to its molecular weight, one of the interesting things about DMT is that it's made indigenously in the human body and it occurs in every mammal that's been investigated so far. And it's found in hundreds, if not thousands, of plants. Well so it has a very widespread distribution in the natural world. So those are some of the unique properties of DMT. It's also not orally active, which differs from things like LSD, or psilocybin. It has to be there smoked or injected or snored, and that's because it's broken down in the gut very quickly before it has a chance to enter the bloodstream. So,– And in our study, we gave it intravenously. Usually, when people use it recreationally they smoke it or they vaporize it. And then inhale the vapors, DMT occurs in the natural world, as opposed to LSD which is semi-synthetic. And the time course of, DMT is unique. When it's smoked or injected, it begins to work in just a few seconds and the peak effects occur within a minute or two, and then effects are mostly resolved within a half hour, so that's a lot more–, it's a lot more of a rapid time course, compared to the orally active psychedelics. And qualitative leads effect seems to stand out compared to other psychedelics in as much as when you take other psychedelics, you've taken a drug and the effects you're experiencing are related to the drug; it's like you're on a drug and you're viewing the world through drug in your modified perspective. A frequent refrain you hear from people that use DMT is that it's as if you're entering into separate universe- yes, separate level of reality- which is as real as normal, everyday reality and, that it isn't a thing that you hear I mean, anywhere as frequently with respect to the other psychedelics. And I guess the other quality of the DMT experience is if you get enough DMT into you–, quite a few people describe the existence of beings, sentient, and intelligent powerful, I guess discarded identities with which the experience-, person having the experience interacts with, and you can hear reports like that, with respect to LSD, or psilocybin. But it's a very common report, when you talk to people that have used DMT.
Rob Konrad 6:45
Before we go into the details of the effects and what DMT seems to do with lot of people, and if you go back in your personal history and your research history, what was the event or what was the trigger that sparked your interest in the psychedelic research?
Dr. Rick Strassman 7:09
I think it started like, even before I was interested in consciousness, and psychedelics. When I was a kid, I like to make fireworks, I like to make bombs and colorful things that exploded, and I even started college as a chemistry major, because I was thinking I wanted to develop my own line of fireworks and people discouraged me. They, – They told me, “Well, you're a smart guy, and, how to do medical or scientific work. So you should be a- you should go to medical school instead, as opposed to starting a chairman of fireworks companies.” And in college-, this was California in the late 1960s or early 1970s. And there was an influx of two major technologies that reliably induced altered states of consciousness; both meditation coming in from the east and the psychedelic- well, in the psychedelic drugs. And I was struck by the overlap in descriptions between the two states. And both states, – there were extreme emotions, oftentimes euphoria the revisions there are voices there are new insights into the nature of reality in one's own personality. And people were profoundly affected by both the psychedelic state. Well I'm as a result of their experience with both the psychedelics and the practice of certain kinds of meditation. So by began to speculate about a biological basis of spiritual experience that perhaps there was some common biological denominator that mediated both the psychedelic state- I mean, in addition to the meditative state. So, I went to medical school with an interest in studying psychedelics; I became, or I trained in psychiatry, and became a psychiatrist in order to study the effects of drugs on consciousness, and to see if there were pharmacological means of attaining your meditative enlightenment.
Rob Konrad 10:23
At the time when you started, what the– Was there already this ban on psychedelic research?
Dr. Rick Strassman 10:32
Well there is a huge amount of psychedelic research in the US and and Western Europe in the beginning and I suppose, the late 1940s with the discovery of LSD by Albert Hofmann in Switzerland, there had been some interesting study in Mescaline back in the day;, but it just never really took off. I think because you have to give you a rather large doses of Mescaline, and frequently, there were physical side effects, like vomiting. But LSD was extremely potent, like hundreds if not in a thousands of times potent-, more potent as compared to Mescaline and that caught people's interests. In addition, it was quite, — It was structurally similar to Serotonin which was just discovered at around the same time, so there is a link that was being developed between your serotonin LSD and mental illness or altered states- especially Psycho-pathological altered states like Psychosis, so the field really took off in, I mean, the 1950s and in the 1960s-, thousands of the papers hundreds of books dozens of conferences, but then the drugs escaped the lab as it were and became a public health no problem and, so the Congress in the US passed the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 which then basically established such a regulatory burden on anybody interested in doing these studies; that new studies basically stopped, so, I was in college between 1969 and 73, so, by the time, I started to formulate my interest in these drugs, it was a pretty barren, no patch in the field. And, so are DMT–, so, our study and giving DMT which began in late 1990 was the first new American study, they're [inaudible] the 1970.
Rob Konrad 13:20
Yes and so your research didn't start with DMT initially. So you were first researching Melatonin?
Dr. Rick Strassman 13:32
Yes. I was interested in the Pineal Gland. I'd learned about the Pineal Gland in college and, the more I learned about, the more it seemed interesting like, it might be a spiritual kind of an organ and it had been revered within Esoteric Physiology for thousands of years, Descartes believed it was the conduit of the soul-, the way in which, God, communicated with the human mind, so–, there wasn't all that much known about the human response to Melatonin or a human role for Melatonin, there were some studies indicating that it, could be Psychoactive-, could be Psychedelic, even, there was a study and patients with severe depression where it increases the symptoms of depression; even cause psychosis, there were some preliminary data correlating Melatonin with a dream state, so because of the emerging Physiology and Psychopharmacology of Melatonin, I mean, as well as its esoteric significance, I began my clinical research career looking at Melatonin in humans and I began that study and in around 1985. And we look at it very carefully, and even giving large doses team and it only cost sedation; there weren't any psychedelic effects. And in the meantime, I learned about DMT and then switch the research areas and began the required paperwork for doing the DMT study in 1988 and two years later, we finally got permission to start that project.
Rob Konrad 15:49
That was not an easy process. You describe it in quite some detail in your first book, and it's really messed with your nerves, I guess, until you got there.
Dr. Rick Strassman 16:00
Well, it was an incredibly frustrating endeavor. Yes. It took two years. And– But still, I mean, it was an important thing to establish, because every other us study which has studied psychedelic drugs employs the regulatory and the bureaucratic model which we established doing the DMT work, it's kind of amusing. The first paper that I published about the DMT work was a paper I like to call- What if I'm hit by a bus paper. It was a step by step manual of the way I established communication with the DEA and with the FDA in order to take out my project approved, and I wrote that paper before we published any of their results of the DMT work itself, because if something happened to me, God forbid, I wanted other — Well, I was interested in other researchers who don't know how I did it.
Rob Konrad 17:20
So, they could pick up where you left that away.
Dr. Rick Strassman 17:26
Rob Konrad 17:28
I just want to go and quickly come back to the Pineal Gland because I found it quite fascinating in your book, and it was worth it at all, sort of. Pineal Gland is actually, at least, in other animals and more, I say, in primitive animals, it's some sort of a third eye, if you want to– It's literally some, sort of, a third eyes. So it has some light sensitive properties, and it has quite a unique features even within the brain. So maybe you can talk a little bit about that, because I found that highly fascinating.
Dr. Rick Strassman 17:59
Yes. The Pineal Gland is a third eye in lower animals-, reptiles and other vertebrates kind of low down on the evolutionary chain. Yes. It's, – It's on top of the skull in the area where the Anterior Fontanelle is in humans or human babies. Yes, but in your reptiles, snakes lizards, toads, and amphibians, it's a third eye; it has a cornea, a lens or retina. It's got an iris, and if directly responsive to ambient light and in those lower animals, is responsible for camouflage coloration of skin and temperature regulation.
Dr. Rick Strassman 18:58
And in the course of evolution, the Pineal Gland goes inward, as it were, like, in birds if goes into the skull, but it's still as responsive to like directly because the bird brain or the bird skull is quite thin, and light is capable of passing through the bird skull and still affecting the Pineal, when you get to mammals, it only becomes responsive to lights in an indirect manner through the eyes; there's a circuit which connects the eyes to the Pineal Gland.
Dr. Rick Strassman 19:38
Yes so, if you've got no eyes, for example, if you're blind congenitally, you don't receive any light information, the Pineal is kind of working on its own. It requires light to– You're being trained to the light to end the dark cycle. Yes, so, the primary hormones always been Melatonin that was discovered in the late 1940s and it was determined to be responsible for seasonal reproduction in mammals. And it also seems to mediate in a body temperature; our study established that. And mood as well seasonal depression seems to be related to Melatonin dynamics.
Rob Konrad 20:35
Dr. Rick Strassman 20:36
— But I was always interested in, – Does the Pineal Gland make DMT? I mean, that would be the obvious thing if Melatonin isn't psychedelic, and there is a spiritual role for the Pineal Gland. If it makes DMT that'd be perfect, so I speculated about that. I wrote a paper and the earth, the 1990s and in 2013, a research group in Ann Arbor, Michigan finally established, that there is DMT in the living [Inaudible] in Pineal Gland.
Rob Konrad 21:16
But, only in very small quantities and the main source in the body is in the lungs of Mammals.
Dr. Rick Strassman 21:24
Well, the main sources, – probably the lungs that's been established or more or less established since the mid 1960s or so, plus humans without Pineal Glands seem to live normal lives.
Dr. Rick Strassman 21:47
So, if the Pineal Gland makes DMT it may only do it occasionally on special circumstances, as it were, there are some published data coming out from the group in Ann Arbor, which hopefully will see the light of day before too long which demonstrates DMT in the rotten brain, so I think–, once that's established, it will really open up the field a lot more, than as the case no, one of the arguments I'm against on a role for naturally occurring DMT in human body is this low concentrations. But if it's made in the brain locally then it can exert local effects and even in very low concentrations, while still be significant.
Rob Konrad 22:46
You described that's DMT can actually pass through the blood brain barrier. So, it's one of the very few molecules that actually- the brain actually- actively takes into the brain for whatever reason that is. Right?
Dr. Rick Strassman 23:01
Right. Well most of the substances which get into the brain occurred through diffusion. It's in the blood; it just kind of drifts across, the blood brain barrier.
Dr. Rick Strassman 23:17
But DMT is unique. Speaking of the unique properties of DMT because it's transported into the brain using the brain's energy the brain expenses energy getting DMT into his confines. And the brain only treats selected materials like that specific Amino Acids; it's not able to make on its own for protein synthesis-, sugar glucose- in order to fuel the brain, so, it is as if DMT is required for normal brain which is an interesting thing to speculate about, if psychedelic substances required for normal brain function because normally your brain function means normal consciousness, so, it could be-, this is obviously speculative- but it could be that certain window of DMT concentrations in the brain is required for normal consciousness, what's also interesting is that the synthetic machinery for DMT synthesis is quite active in the retina, so, you could be that both normal consciousness and in particular visual consciousness is somehow mediated through DMT somehow.
Rob Konrad 25:04
And how is it related to LSD and other psychedelics? So they're quite close structurally, right?
Dr. Rick Strassman 25:14
They're quite close, structurally, other all trip to means. Yes. O-Acetyl psilocin as a trip to mean, LSD- DMT is a trip to mean. Your Mescaline is- isn't quite in the same category, but it's still has got the same pharmacological properties which are to stimulate specific sub-types of the receptor for Serotonin in the parts of the brain, which you would expect-, which- in immediate emotion, invasion, recognition volition- those kinds of things.
Rob Konrad 25:55
It's interesting to mention the retina, because, a few weeks back, I had a very intense recent conversation with a guy named Richard Turner. And what Richard Turner does is that he is one of the most well known card mechanics, as he calls it. So, he can manipulate cards. He's not a magician in the sense that he does tricks. But he really can manipulate the deck of card that, – you tell him, “Now, you mix the deck”, you tell him, “I want the four aces in the third, the 17th” and deeper the position that he can, somehow, makes it so that they end up there and the interesting thing is he has been blind since he was nine years old. And he lost sight due to some retinal malfunction. And what we talked– We talked a little bit about how he sees the world in a way because he seems to have a very–
Rob Konrad 26:42
When he get blind– Let's put this way- when he had blind in his teens, initially, he didn't realize he got blind; it was only when, like, he was moving his arm in front of his face, he would see the arm, but then he would still see it with closed eyes. It was, “Okay, I still see it, although my- my vision is gone.” And what he sees now is- he describes it as- he has different color patterns and that he sees, so it's mostly blue and red. And, but what he can do is he can imagine anything in– He sees things in 2D. But he can imagine them in a three dimensional sphere. So it is like a little bit, if you're underwater, and see images that are floating in different layers- let's put it this way. And he– when he's like,- when he's manipulating the cards, for example, he can see his hands in his inner eye, and he can see manipulations. So he–
Rob Konrad 27:41
What he did- When he does the things, he has to look at his hands to be able to do it- funny enough- although he- he's like, he did some tests. And he's really– There's no way you can see anything. So it's really a physical impairment. And the interesting thing is that this the way you see so that he has this layers, and he can imagine things and ID was triggered by a LSD experience he had 50 years back. So that was the only time we took LSD. And that was the time– that was the event that triggered his ability to imagine things in front of his eyes. And that's stuck with him ever since. And he never wants to touch any drugs again, or any LSD or anything again, but that was the event that, kind of, initiated it. So I find it quite interesting that you say is some drugs or some sub-drugs that are produced within our body are produced in the retina, because the retina was what was actually damaged when he got blind.
Dr. Rick Strassman 28:43
That's interesting. Yes. That's a very strange story. Well, so did he take his LSD after he became blind or before?
Rob Konrad 28:50
After he became blind.
Dr. Rick Strassman 28:53
After. Well, and so did he have visions? I guess he did have visions on LSD when he was blind.
Rob Konrad 28:59
Yes, Yes. He did. Yes, he did. So he was perfectly normal sighted until he was around, I think, 10 or 11 years old. And then one day, when he was sitting in school, he actually realized what he was looking at the chalkboard- I'd call it an English chalkboard.
Dr. Rick Strassman 29:16
Rob Konrad 29:18
Chalkboard. Yes. So, the letters were blurry that he couldn't focus anymore. So he was thinking like, maybe there's something in his eye or he gets kind of infection. So he went to the nurse and then they realized that his retinas were degenerating and so over the next 10 or so years he- even more, I think- 15 years, he continuously lost more and more site and it was completely blind when he was in his mid 20s.
Dr. Rick Strassman 29:41
Yes. Yes. That's called Retinitis Pigmentosa. My step daughter had that. Yes. That's, – your field gets smaller and smaller and smaller until you just can't see anything.
Rob Konrad 29:56
Yes, so initially, initially he only had peripheral vision, so he could see things that he would, like, holds to the sides of his eyes. He could still see like, [Unintelligible] and things that you thought it is red, it's blue something and then kind of that that went away after a while.
Dr. Rick Strassman 30:12
Oh, that's interesting. Yes. It may not have been Retinitis then. Well I like every a couple of months, I might get an email from somebody asking me if I ever gave DMT to anyone blind. And I never really did, there was one gal in this study, who is legally blind, but, – but still had, some perception of light. And that only occurred later on in, – in her life, I've heard stories of the people that drink Ayahuasca, on that, that are blind but became blind as adults. And they're able to walk around the room on Ayahuasca in a way they would never have been able to without it.
Dr. Rick Strassman 31:09
there, – there are some studies from the '50s giving LSD to blind people. I think those are mostly, and people who were–, it was acquired blindness; they went congenitally blind. But those were kind of crude studies, they really don't go into much detail so, I would call those studies inconclusive. If somebody is congenitally blind, I just don't understand, or, I can't imagine how they would have visual perception if they were congenitally blind because they would just have no building blocks. No- You don't have know, visual building blocks for visual vocabulary to use or to – or to hang the experience on. But, the, obviously, is important researching a question when it comes to visual reality-, visual perception.
Rob Konrad 32:14
Have you ever received any comments from blind people that have tried impeded or were congenitally blind, so, from your– I mean, I'm sure you must have been contacted by thousands of people over the years, sharing their experiences?
Dr. Rick Strassman 32:27
Yeah, I'm trying to think about congenitally blind. I just don't think I've gotten any emails from people who are congenitally blind. I have probably gotten from acquired blind people, but they just don't stand out. I — It was a, — The stuff that I've heard isn't surprising when it comes to people with acquired blindness, so, it must have been what you would expect that they still had visual effects typical of what would have been the case before when they recited.
Rob Konrad 33:12
Okay. So interesting. So, if anyone who's in that case, listening to this and who has been blind from birth and has taken any like, after psychoactive substance this, then that would be interesting to share with you. Definitely, and get in touch.
Dr. Rick Strassman 33:27
Yes. I would- Yes, I would be interested in hearing about that.
Rob Konrad 33:33
Yes. So, coming back to your other research, I think we just maybe can talk about this, because not everyone might have read your book. So, they might not be familiar with how the studies went. So, you got permission by the government to conduct research on human subjects with DMT and you set up, basically, a test environment at the University of New Mexico, I'm not mistaken. And that you administer it. And after a while, you settled on injections. Basically, you tried to do muscular first, but it didn't work out for whatever reasons, and then decided that the best way and the most effective way to administer it or it's high enough dose that has some notable effects is for rejection. So, you started giving injections to subjects and what were the experiences like, that these people had?
Dr. Rick Strassman 34:29
Well, the question of the route of administration is interesting. The older DMT studies which occurred in Hungary and in the US;, gave it intra-muscularly and, the onset is still quite rapid but it isn't as rapid as the smoked route of administration. And because we read, saved our funding from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, we wanted to replicate the field use of the drug as opposed to the older studies, which were interested in comparing the status psychosis, let's say. So there were a small number of you– Well, I might had a couple of colleagues- acquaintances that have smoked, DMT in the past. So, I brought them in, and we gave one of those guys, some intra-muscular DMT so, he could compare the speed of onset and the time course of the smoke as compared to our giving it as an intra-muscular injection. So, he described it as slower and not as intense as the smoke do.
Dr. Rick Strassman 36:00
So then we applied to FDA to switch the route of administration from intra-muscular to intravenous. The only previously published study of giving intravenous DMT to humans was a small study and Schizophrenic women in the '60s, maybe as a late 1950s and those were hair raising studies. One of the women went into cardiac arrest and they have to resuscitate her and–
Dr. Rick Strassman 36:30
Yes. So we were kind of fearful about giving IV-DMT and began at rather low doses. But the first couple of guys who went through the screening intravenous dosing without a hitch, so, I was a little bit I was a little bit overconfident. Once we gave our first couple of intravenous doses, and I called FDA and I said, “Well people are responding in a good–, they're responding as expected with the intravenous route of administration, but I'd like to go up higher, what do you recommend?” And they said, “Well, you can go up two or three times your current dose”. So, I said, “Okay, I'll go up three times the current dose”, which was a big mistake.
Rob Konrad 36:30
Rob Konrad 37:30
Let's, start with High.
Dr. Rick Strassman 37:31
, three times the current dose, and we overdosed, are two volunteers. Yes so, we back to down to twice the dose-, 0.4 milligrams per kilogram which is still a pretty harrowing dose. There's a study taking place at Imperial College, now, in London giving intravenous DMT and they're only giving 0.3 and there's a study that's being begun or formulated at Yale, right now, too and they're only going to be giving 0.3. 0.3 is a fully psychedelic dose, and if the dose that we use for our tolerant study giving it four times in a closely spaced manner. We gave that are full dose in a couple of volunteers for the tolerance study, but it was just too exhausting. So we decided to give 0.3. So 0.3 is the current high dose, at least with the two studies which are ongoing now.
Rob Konrad 38:47
It says it is typical breakthrough dose. So, with DMT, there seems to be a certain level that's needed. So, bloated levels, you will feel effects, but you won't have these, let's say, breakthrough experiences. If it's too high, then basically, you won't be able to remember anything, because it's so whatever it is, no one knows. Right? So- if it's too much- so is it open through a break for those or is that not for everyone to break through those?
Dr. Rick Strassman 39:14
Yes, for most people, it's a step above the breakthrough dose, we gave 0.- Well, we gave 0.05. We gave 0.1, 0.2, 0.3 and 0.4. So, that's the small dose 0.05 lots of people mistook for placebo but if they could tell any effects, — they're kind of calm and relaxing. 0.1 was a mixed bag; some people liked it, it was like an open, yes; some people others described as MDMA, like but if clearly wasn't a psychedelic dose. But, for most people the threshold at which the full effects began, the breakthrough dose was 0.2 milligrams per kilogram and anything and say anything above that was fully psychedelic.
Rob Konrad 40:31
And the reason it didn't get that you didn't administer it through inhalation or through smoking, or by position or whatever is that it was impractical, [unintelligible] environments, and it has some sort of inconvenience means with, let's put it this way.
Dr. Rick Strassman 40:49
Well, it's smells terrible that's one thing is smells like burning plastic when it's vaporized and when people cough,
Dr. Rick Strassman 41:02
so, it's an irritant to the lung, which I didn't want to expose our volunteers to, and coughing to you, – cough out the DMT before you completely absorbed it. So, the absorption would be a lot sketchier. And our studies were occurring on a research unit of a busy hospital, and, yes, it just was impractical.
Rob Konrad 41:27
Okay. So, once you found the potato the right amount to administer to your test subjects, but what were–
Dr. Rick Strassman 41:39
, normal volunteers that's, —
Rob Konrad 41:41
Dr. Rick Strassman 41:41
— who were colleague or friends early on. Yes.
Rob Konrad 41:44
Yes. So, you had around 60 volunteers all together. And so, what were the experiences like that people had?
Dr. Rick Strassman 41:56
Yes. Well about what to call my volunteers. The research and subjects- are the volunteers are the normal volunteers?
Rob Konrad 42:06
Dr. Rick Strassman 42:07
And that's an important point, – that's an important point, to characterize first of all the volunteer. Still, I was interested in subjects that were familiar with the psychedelic experience. We weren't going to be surprised. I was able to give informed consent in a way that we shared a language school in one time but still, I was interested in subjects that were you familiar with the psychedelic experience. We weren't going to be surprised, I was able to give informed consent in a way that we shared a language as opposed to, somebody that had never taken a psychedelic before. So, that was one thing is. They were normal volunteers they weren't patients and they were all depressed, they were already on it.
Rob Konrad 43:13
All were stable mentally. So, they roll in the– they had social network, they had jobs, they had. They were not, sort of- not like drug users trying to score drugs through a trial, but really, they were stable people- mentally stable- and emotionally stable, socially stable.
Dr. Rick Strassman 43:29
Yes, I screened them very carefully to make certain that they had a strong support system behind them.
Dr. Rick Strassman 43:40
Yes, they were all employed or in school most of them have families. They weren't mentally ill. If they're using any drugs at all, it was occasional marijuana.
Dr. Rick Strassman 43:54
Yes. Yes. And there were doctors and attorneys and psychologists and businesspeople and bureaucrats, and. Yes. It was- it was a high functioning group. Stable. Yes, so, that was one thing is the quality or the characteristics of the volunteers.
Dr. Rick Strassman 44:18
The other was, the expectations, the inner preparation for the DMT experiences. If you read about must have the research going on nowadays, it occurs within a specific kind of a setting. You're given a, – you're given multiple hours of your preparation to experience a particular kind of effect, often called a mystical or mystical, mimetic effect because that's supposed to be the salient effect, or the most important response that you're looking for. If you're depressed, or if you've got OCD or if you got, – if you have a terminal kind of illness so, you get hours and hours of preparation. You are trained in a vocabulary like conceptual space. I, — Theological model of how the spiritual world operates, and what just nature is. You're trained to respond to the contents of the visions, and directly experience in a particular way in order to maximize the likelihood of that kind of experience taking place.
Dr. Rick Strassman 45:57
, so, with respect to a follow up as well, the experiences are integrated using that model as well that they're understood after the fact as, either comforting with are not comforting with the spiritual-psychological model that these studies are that are- that these studies are using, as compared to our group where I was interested in- Could, the pharmacology of the drug cause an enlightenment experience?, not the pharmacology in combination with a lot of preparation, but just the pharmacology itself. Just give the drug. Do people have an enlightenment experience, as opposed to six to eight, to 10 hours of preparation? This is the kind of experience you're going to have; this is what you need to do to get it. This is how to understand it as it's unfolding. If you get off bases, this is how you return to optimize the likelihood of that experience occurring. So, we just told people, it's really fast, and you may think that you've died, but don't worry. Nobody's ever died from DMT and if your heart stops, we've got a crash cart at our resuscitation team handy. But just hold on, keep your eyes open so to speak your inner eyes and report back to us what the experience is, like. So, there wasn't any expectation. There were just scouts. They were the front men, front women going into where nobody had ever gone before, and I wasn't really wanting to you coach them. I just wanted them to describe what the state was like a year. So, that being said, I could describe a typical big dose of DMT.
Dr. Rick Strassman 48:12
It starts very quickly, within a few heartbeats. There's a feeling of inner pressure and acceleration and, sound a high pitch sound. If you have your eyes open, the room starts to pixelate, then you break up. And actually, the first few volunteers- we discovered quickly that they became disoriented if they had their eyes open, because the visions would be overlaid on the room. And it was a pretty sterile, unpleasant room. So, we quickly learned to–, place I shades on people number one, to keep them from getting freaked out and number two, to make it a more- in a more internal kind of experience.
Dr. Rick Strassman 49:07
So, there's this what we called the rush the inner pressure the acceleration and anxiety. Those are physical symptoms of anxiety, – the high pitch sound, with eyes closed or with eyes open-, there's a display of kaleidoscopic, rapidly moving morphing colors.
Dr. Rick Strassman 49:37
Yes. And, within about 30 seconds, for most people, there's kind of breakthrough the sensation of the mind, leaving the body. You lose awareness of your physical body, your surroundings, the first check of people's blood pressure occurred at two minutes after the injection was done. And almost nobody, remembered or felt that first blood pressure check. And it was an automatic cough which really, exerted on a lot of pressure on the arm, and they just didn't feel it.
Dr. Rick Strassman 50:21
So, you enter into this world of light. It's composed a bright saturated, very intense light, and you are– Well if you've been able to negotiate the rush without resisting it then it becomes either emotionally neutral or ecstatic. If you resisted the rush like you fought against it, you scream, you kicked, you set out on a go. Then it was quite anxiety ridden but if you could let go of your anxiety as best as you could, during that first 30 seconds then it was smooth sailing emotionally after that.
Dr. Rick Strassman 51:19
, so that visual world was huge. It was expansive, and if contained things-, visual things, structures, entities beings and the beings could take any number of shapes or forms- insects, reptiles, plants sentience furniture.
Dr. Rick Strassman 51:50
And even if you weren't aware of discreetly your bounded objects that you could recognize, as such, you still were aware of an intelligence and a lot of information which was contained in that state. So, I would say if you wanted to describe what the reaction was, it was just being slack jawed with amazement, and with a feeling of awe and wonder, like what is this exactly.
Dr. Rick Strassman 52:27
Yes, so, it was, like, I described earlier, most of the volunteers described the reality of the state, as more real than everyday reality. And it was highly interactive, either with the state itself or with the beings which could be discretely recognized in that state there was given take- usually take, – the beings would do things or communicate with the volunteers, and it was hard for the volunteers to communicate with those beings for a number of reasons. The language wasn't quite worked out, the anxiety was too great. They were to stand. The effects would start to diminish before they really got their bearings within the ability to communicate.
Dr. Rick Strassman 53:27
Yes. – So, things were done to the volunteers, they received information, they were healed, they were threatened and frightened, usually, it was beneficent but like I said, if the experience began in a scary sort of manner, it usually would stay that way. Yes. And of effects with peak within maybe two, three minutes, and then you start coming down at around five minutes or so, and time would dilate to what you seem as if very, very, very long amount of time with elapsing. It was very common experience for volunteers to say, “How long was it out for?” And I'd say, “Oh, about eight minutes.” And they say like “Seemed like hours”, “Seemed like days”, or “It seemed like years.” Yes.
Dr. Rick Strassman 54:27
, so, it was a very strange effect on time. Yes, it wasn't what I expected, though, like, I'm describing that highly, – highly occupied interactive state. But the– I was, well the kind of state that I was expecting was the Enlightenment state, the Buddhist can show Satori the white light of enlightenment, – no form, no feeling, no sensation of consciousness, nobody.
Rob Konrad 54:27
Dr. Rick Strassman 55:08
Yes, and in our nearly five dozen volunteers, only one person had that kind of experience. And it was interesting; it wasn't a light; it was a yellowish light. And number two, this guy was hoping for that kind of experience in college. He was a religious; studies major, as a physician. He was interested in esoteric psychology- esoteric-spiritual systems. So, of the large group of volunteers many of whom were deeply involved with your meditation practices, were you hoping for an enlightenment experience. We're expecting one and so, was I- I was expecting an enlightenment experience as well, because I was coming at it from years of Zen practice and study but only one volunteer had that kind of experience. The rest of the volunteers had experiences which were consistent with who they were, or who they wanted to be, or what they hope to be the case or they learn more about things that they were already somewhat convinced of, or uncertain about, but we're thinking of, because they were important in the front of their mind, the back of their mind the middle of their mind. But they were a psychedelic version of themselves. And the experiences were a psychedelic version of their hopes, their fears, y, who they worth, their pre-existing personality structure as opposed to a pure pharmacologically induced white light experience.
Rob Konrad 57:01
Okay. But in most cases, at least, there was still a sense of ego. So, people will not dissolved into, “No, I'm everything, everything's me”, but it was, there were- there was a differentiation between the self and the others, let's put it this way.
Dr. Rick Strassman 57:21
Yes. There was still the maintenance of the personality-, the observing ego and then some ways the personality and the observing ego were pure. More focus, more concentrated like a distillation of themselves, as opposed to the obliteration of themselves, they felt they expanded because of the DMT universe on as a rule is very large, but they still observed, and they could report. They could remember; they could interact. Yes so, the ego dissolution, the merging into the white light that only occurred in that one fellow and that was only for a brief period of time maybe 30 seconds- 45 seconds or so. Yes, so, it wasn't what I was expecting and hope for, and it wasn't what the majority of the volunteers were hoping for or expect.
Rob Konrad 58:38
Okay. At the time, did you have any- did you have a team to experience yourself so that you had something to base it on or–
Dr. Rick Strassman 58:52
Well that's a question I'm asked often like have you done DMT and my stock answer is, if I asked them “Yes”, I am accused of being a zealot. And if I answer “No”, that I'm accused of not knowing what I'm talking about. So, I kind of sidestep that question, the–, point of my studies too wasn't necessarily to confirm my own DMT experiences or lack thereof; it was to gather the reports of a sophisticated group of volunteers and establish a cartography to map out the territory.
Rob Konrad 59:45
I see. I see, I see. So, I guess you'd have asked the same thing, if I would ask you about other psychedelic experiences that you might or might not have had.
Dr. Rick Strassman 59:55
Yes. Yes. I usually give the same answer. Yes, it isn't about me and my inner drug experiences. I mean, yes, those are just as interesting or just as boring as anybody else's. So, I was interested in what happens when you give IV-DMT to people. And that was my study.
Rob Konrad 1:00:16
Okay. That was– It was just more from the background of- Did you have [unintelligible] foundation to base the reports on so? There was there anything like you say, “Okay, that sounds familiar”, or “That sounds completely new, because I haven't done it.” So that down, there was a background of the question, but I can see why does this complicated thing to answer. So, let's not dig deeper into that.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:00:38
Right. Yes. It's a– It– well, but it's an important question because I'm asked it with some regularity. But, yes, I mean, our study like I said, was a study of intravenous DMT in a group of sophisticated volunteers. And could I compare? Yes. Yes, the validity of the study, its importance the information we came back with, I think that speaks for itself. Yes.
Rob Konrad 1:01:25
Okay. You mentioned, mind if I can Phrase that, in the beginning that in your very young age, you started an interest for, let's say, experiences. Did you– Did you ever have any, say otherworldly experiences of some sort as a kid that might have influenced your interests that you have-, some people have near death experiences, others have religious experiences- did you have any, anything that might have formed to you or sparked your interests in these kind of studies? Any events or any maybe repeating incidents?
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:02:05
Well sparking is– Yes. Sparking is a good term because like I mentioned earlier on, — For some reason, I was really interested in fireworks, the-, the colors are, wouldn't- would be spectacular, this was back in the '50s and the early '60s, and you could just go to the library and check out books on bombs and fireworks. So, I went to the library; checked out books on bombs and fireworks. And you could just call these chemical companies, or you could write them and say, “I'd like the ingredients for X, Y, and Z.” And they say, “Sure”, and they, ship all these pounds of chemicals to me, and I was like, what, whatever, 12-14 years old.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:02:58
Yes, so, I made bombs. I made fireworks and I really loved the feeling to, like I thought, or I felt this is really exciting. It's kind of dangerous; it's really spectacular. The visual effects are really fascinating. The power behind the chemical reactions was really impressive and really novel, I think to–, my dad was a real fan of science fiction, and I would read through his-, his books during summer break, and I was interested in science fiction, other worlds, time travel, space travel, strange creatures the brain consciousness. So, I suppose even from the get-go, I was always interested in fantastic things. And in some ways, I got the last laugh on people who said, “Don't go into fireworks”, because–
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:04:16
I just went into fireworks, but more on the, an- on an, in your eternal level, as opposed to you're making bombs. someplaces, you can see–
Rob Konrad 1:04:33
Overall safe hazard. it's a safety hazard.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:04:37
Rob Konrad 1:04:39
So, when you receive the first reports- and they were kind of overlapping in the quality of the experience- were you surprised because there was some earlier research or earlier studies done in the '50s? Did they have similar reports about what people experienced? Or was that completely surprising to you?
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:05:06
Well there were some studies of DMT in Hungary and in the US and a few– you go back and you track down those reports; they're quite comparable to what our volunteers reported, seeing entities, seeing beings, the interactive quality things being done to the volunteers by the DMT beings. Those are pretty obscure papers, but can you compare to the huge number of LSD research papers that were out there, smaller number of psilocybin and papers. The DMT reports stood out, as being unusual in a way that was consistent with the reports of our volunteers.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:06:03
So, before we began this study, I interviewed about 20 recreation or field users of DMT, most of them were in California. I guess that wasn't surprising. But I spoke to these folks on the phone and I said, “Well, I'm about to start a DMT study and tell me what to expect.” And they said, “Expect entities, expect beings”.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:06:32
So, combined with those reports from my informants and the reports from the previous scientific papers, I ought to have not been surprised by the frequency of being you contact as it were. But I think it's just one of those things that you're blinded by your own your pre-conceptions, and you'll ignore the evidence to the contrary. So, I was expecting a white light experience, and I forgot about the beings. I just forgot about them. Yes. But it wasn't until I report after report after report from my volunteers that I started to remember, “Oh, right. That's what everybody was telling me.” And that's what the older papers said to. So, it's a good case of the anti-placebo effect in a way because they were expecting one thing, I was expecting the same thing, but, on the contrary, it just was what it was.
Rob Konrad 1:07:54
So, that's one of the ways in which DMT differs from other drugs, that even in a relatively sterile setting, like a clinical room without any decorations, with or without a blindfold on stuff. And the experiences are quite similar to each other, whereas with other psychedelic drugs the setting plays a huge role. As I said, preparation plays a huge role, and it might lead you to completely different end results. So DMT seems to give a very– It's what it consistent experience across many different people with many different levels of psychedelic experiences.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:08:19
Yes. Well that kind of touches upon the role of placebo, and suggestion when it comes to the nature of the drug effect. I think, with medium doses-, not too low, not too high, – that's where you are seeing the maximal response to placebo, and your suggestion, your most amenable or most responsive to the coaching that you get beforehand. If their doses are very small, they are kind of meaningless well as micro dosing, which is a different story.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:09:17
And if you give very large dose it's mostly as a drug,
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:09:24
kind of working on the pre-existing personality as opposed to what you've been, you're coached to have taken place or occur in the drug state. So, I think with a large dose of DMT with no preparation, other than– It's fast; you may think you've died, but you didn't just report back, yes, where seeing the pure pharmacological effect. And that's pretty consistent across volunteers; it's the disembodied, it's very visual, very interactive and relational. It isn't the unit to mystical white light experience very often at all. Yes, so it seems, if the pharmacology of the drug is, I think about weighing anything else. With the medium doses, you're more able to manipulate the effect and the tiny doses are a different story.
Rob Konrad 1:09:56
So, before we kind of transition into your second book, and especially the experiences in relationship to, to prophetic experiences in this way, what was the overall results of the study, and why did it end 1995?
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:11:00
Well the overall result was we gave a lot of DMT to a lot of people and we both characterize the psychological responses in two ways; one was through the development of a new inner rating scale, your paper and paper, a-, a and paper and pencil questionnaire, which we developed, – which we developed that questionnaire based on Buddhist psychological principles the Abhidharma psychology of Buddhism, which break, mental experience down into a manageable number of components. So, as phenomenal, logical description of the state the focusing on a small number of categories, your perceptual effects, emotional effects, physical effects, and so on. And, also, I took a lot of bedside notes, which was the source of the material for the DMT book, like, a thousand pages of your bedside notes.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:12:23
, so, we characterize subjective effects both subjectively using the questionnaire and subjectively with me taking notes and we also characterized the biological effects based on your serotonin physiology, so, we looked at heart rate and blood pressure and people diameter body temperature, a slew of hormones beta, well Cortisol ACTH beta Endorphin, growth hormone, a large number of hormones. It's interesting in that respect is all the hormones that we've measured by not except for Melatonin so then the Pineal Gland seem to be kind of, immune to even a monstrous dose of DMT, which was, — I'm not exactly sure what- when, what to make of that but it is kind of ironic with all of the focus and energy on the Pineal that it didn't budge in response to a large dose of DMT, so, we characterize dose response-, dose responses of DMT in our volunteers, which means that small doses had small effects, medium doses have medium effects and so on.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:13:46
, so, we also looked at tolerance to DMT when it comes to other psychedelics you give LSD every day. After about three, four days, you stop feeling the effects pretty much and there's cross-tolerance too. So, if you're tolerant to LSD, you're not going to respond to Psilocybin let's say, if you've taken LSD every day for five days or so.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:14:13
But DMT at least in the, — Well the older studies with DMT in both humans and animals weren't able to establish any tolerance or cross tolerance. So, I was and–, there was one study in humans were, they gave DMT, I think twice in a day for maybe four days or so, five days, and there wasn't any tolerance. In other words, the response to DMT was when was the same there wasn't any diminution in the effects, and there's a Cat's study where they gave it every two hours for 21 days and there was no tolerance. So, I thought, well if there's no tolerance to DMT that would be unique. And it would also point to a role of the empty and both normal and abnormal mental function because if DMT is having an effect on the brain mind complex, you would think it has to be having an effect all the time, as opposed to while stops working after a few hours, and it's and- it stops the playing a role.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:15:43
, so I was thinking that you needed to space the injections closer together, and, perhaps, if you gave it every half hour which is when the effects more or less stop after a single dose you would give a big dose, then I would drop off and then you give another big dose, so, we gave a large dose-, 0.3- which is slightly less than our maximum dose ; four times in a morning, and the spacing was a half hour and we demonstrated, no tolerance. The, – the fourth dose cause the same intensity of mental effects as the first dose. So DMT, we established, is still unique among the classical drugs in not developing your tolerance after repeated administration.
Rob Konrad 1:16:39
Could you- Could you repeat it and keep a constant level?
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:16:45
Well, yes, the continuous infusion question is key. And that's one of the issues that I posed at the end of the DMT book is, if you can't develop tolerance perhaps a continuous infusion, — I mean, either number one what established tolerance, or number two, if it didn't, it would provide a very interesting response.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:17:16
It would, – It would provide a long term or more extensive or more expanded DMT effect one of the problems if you are interested in doing psychotherapy let's say, with DMT, it is quite hard to relate to people when they're in the throes of the big, DMT experience. You can work with them after the fact. And we did. I mean, I'm a psycho-therapeutically trained psychiatrists. So, I was able to work with people when difficult emotional issues might come up, but still, it was all after the fact. And if you could keep somebody in a continuous DMT state, you could work with them psychologically a lot more easily, then you could, with just one big shot or even repeated your big doses, it was interesting in the tolerance steady. And people were able to do a lot more psycho-therapeutic work, even though that wasn't the intent of the study because there was a lot of continuity between trips. So, the first DMT experience in the morning was kind of, being re-introduced to the state.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:18:52
, the second trip was stuff would come up, like, emotional things conflicts and other lives spiritual questions, and it would be, and–, the third experience was oftentimes extremely difficult there were kind of, you're caught in between, and betwixt resolution and not. They're just kind of stuck and oftentimes the volunteers after coming out of the third dose would say “Has anybody ever dropped out at this point?”, and I'd say, “Not yet.”
Rob Konrad 1:19:34
No, okay. Don't feel pressure about the–
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:19:37
So, I'll do the do the fourth.
Rob Konrad 1:19:39
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:19:40
You're right. Right, well, yes, nobody wanted to be the first one to chicken out, so to speak. Yes. And for everybody that fourth dose was great. It was, like resolution of all of the other material that had been unearthed and stirred up during the first three doses. So, it seems that you can do psychotherapy with DMT, but the logistics are a bit strange. And if you could keep someone in the DMT state for three hours, or six hours, or seven, eight hours that would be useful. And with the short half-life of DMT, you can crank it up, and you can crank it down. Yes.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:20:31
So, if somebody is interested in spending some time talking to you in a less than completely altered state, you could lower the dose, but you can still keep them in it. Or if they say, “Well, I really want to work on this; give me all you got” then they could go into that state for 15 minutes or a half hour and then you could bring them out of it, and then work with them on a phyco-therapeutically on around the material that emerged in that super high dose state. So, I think it would provide a lot of flexibility a lot of dynamic in quality to the interactions which isn't available with single doses of DMT and really isn't available with a long acting oral drug, like Psilocybin or LSD because you just can't titrate the effect at a moment to moment or minute to minute kind of time course.
Rob Konrad 1:21:42
So, why did you not do just kind of experiments? Was it something that wasn't planned in the design and so, wasn't approved? Or–
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:21:56
Well that kind of touches upon why this the study ended when it did, I approached the drug study through a straightforward psychopharmacology model, – what's the pharmacology of the drug on, what is the psychology of the drug on how do they interact. But I was interested in both the spiritual and the psychos and the psychotherapeutic on the effects of psychedelics as well. So, I was hoping that there would be collaborators who would join me in Albuquerque to start doing those kinds of studies, colleagues that I had been consulting with, over that I've been-, consulting with over the years. But nobody was all that interested in leaving where they were at and making the move. So, I was kind of, boxed into a psycho-pharmacological corner as it were and psychopharmacology model is once you've established the effects of the drug, you start to look at the specific receptors in the brain, which are responsible for specific effects.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:23:30
So, luckily, our first blockade steady as it were turned out to be a magnification study, we gave a Serotonin and blocking drug and it increased the effects of DMT by a factor of two or three, so people volunteered for that stud. That was no, – That was no problem. And it was very interesting results. But when we then started to look at– I'm actually suppressing the DMT effect, I began to feel not sad great about the research, like, I don't want to block the DMT effect; I want to either enhance it or utilize it. So, it was increasingly difficult to recruit volunteers for blockade studies, and I wasn't feeling that great about treating my volunteers as large lab rats and there weren't any collaborators that we're joining the team to branch out into more psychotherapeutic avenues.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:24:45
So, in the meantime, I had basically gotten the answer to my original question which is- Is DMT inherently spiritual? And the answer was, no. It's not. It just amplifies the individual personality and all that goes into the personality rather than having an [unintelligible] or Mr. Co my medic affect. It says psychedelic. It's a mind manifesting drag; it's not a mystical mimetic drug, if you coach people to have a mystical experience then they will. But that is a combination of the drug and the preparation as opposed to just the drug itself. So, we basically established that DMT was a psychedelic mind manifesting, mind disclosing, and without any extra manpower to take their research into a different field or different arenas, I had, basically gotten the answer that I was seeking.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:26:00
We had also be we had also began somewhere giving Psilocybin, and we gave very large doses of Psilocybin and some dose finding where we gave 1.1 milligram per kilogram of psilocybin. And if you look at the large dose or the high dose Psilocybin studies going on now, they're about 1/3 of that 0.4, 0.045. So, when people talk about high dose psilocybin work that was the threshold for psychedelic effects on our volunteers. We started with some small doses, medium doses, big doses but it wasn't until we got to 0.4 or 0.5 milligrams per kilogram that people said, “Okay, this is a psychedelic dose of psilocybin”.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:26:58
so we also gave 0.7 milligrams per kilogram and the volunteers mostly said “We could do more”, so, I gave a couple of volunteers 1.1, which was a 50% increase, which was too much, it costs people to get delirious and they were just trying comfortable, so, if we were going to have run that full psilocybin study, our big dose would have been 0.9 milligrams per kilogram. So, that's still, as two times what's considered a high dose now, which bespeaks the issue of medium doses being ideal for placebo enhancement, and the higher doses being more consistent with the pure pharmacologic effect. So, in our psilocybin work, it would have been the same model as the DMT work. It will give big, medium and small doses and just characterize the state. But for DMT, that was okay-, 45 minutes that-, but for you're in a psilocybin six hours, eight hours, and for you somebody to just report back in every hour or so, just really wasn't cutting it and one of the volunteers and had a very negative reaction, fled the ward security guys in tow.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:28:33
So, it just didn't really seem all that worthwhile to continue the psilocybin work. In the DMT kind of model just give the drug and watch volunteers.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:28:51
We also got permission to begin an LSD study. And we got LSD; we had LSD in Albuquerque. But after the psilocybin experience, I just, – it just did, really see me a prudent to move into LSD work. We were interested in taking the studies off in a site plug into a comfortable house near the campus. But, because of that response to that one- that response in that one volunteer who fled the hospital are, – the ethics board said on the contrary these aren't safe drugs; you need to be in the hospital.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:29:41
So, at that point, I just said, “Well, I've learned what I really entered the research wanting to learn.”, the risks of the studies with the longer acting drugs didn't really seem to be worth the, the potential benefit. So, I just thought, well, I'll just close up shot and start to work out what I actually discovered in those five years of giving DMT.
Rob Konrad 1:30:15
So, what happens after you close that research project in 1995 and still, there were some questions that were unanswered, I suppose?
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:30:32
Well, yes. I mean, there were a number of reasons, the research ended at one level I had gotten the answer that I was seeking, and I wasn't prepared to take their work into psychotherapy or spiritual pursuits. And there were other factors as well. My wife at the time developed some localized cancer and wanted to return to Canada, which-, where she was from. So, we closed up shop and moved up to you, British Columbia for a number of years to help her recover. And our youngest was also struggling in school. So, we wanted to help him out and get him through high school. So, we moved up to Canada for a while. And, in addition, I was getting some pressure, from your, my religious community. They thought I was tinkering with spirituality.
Rob Konrad 1:32:00
So, at the time you were- maybe just important, I think we did mention it that you were part of a Buddhist group and have- had been so for over 20 years, I think.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:32:14
Yes. I had, — I studied Buddhism in college, a bit and I learned Transcendental Meditation when I was 20, I think. And then at Stanford I took a course on Indian Buddhism in 1972-1973.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:32:36
Yes. And then I started meditating-, Zen meditation in-, 1974. So, by the time, I have started the work with DMT, I've been part of that community that, – Zen Buddhist community- for about 16 years or so. So, during that period of time, I was discussing my interest in enlightenment and psychedelics with the monks. And it was interesting. The majority of the monks at the time, got their first glimpse of enlightenment on an LSD trip. And I like- every opportunity I got when I was, – when I was alone with one of the- with one of the junior monks I would ask him, “Well, did you ever take LSD?” and almost all of them said, “Yes.” And then I would say, “Well, how important was your LSD experience to your becoming a monk?” And they said, “I wouldn't have become a monk if I hadn't taken LSD.” So, it supported my kind of initial notion that there was a relationship between Buddhist practice, Buddhist meditation, and the psychedelic state.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:34:05
So, I think what, the disclosure from the monks about the importance of LSD in their spiritual lives wasn't maybe as much as the drugs kind of triggering and enlightenment state as much as giving them a glimpse of some other way of looking at reality. It was called well, — There's an expression in Buddhism called Bodhicitta, which is the initial thought of enlightenment. The seed of an enlightened life or an enlightened mind. So, that I think, was what they were describing was that they're LSD experiences were like, a we're an experience of Bodhicitta, which then encourage them to become Buddhists and train find a teacher live a monastic life and then build on that flash- that kind of initial flash.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:35:21
Yes, so, over the of course, of all those years I continued to discuss with the Monks my interest in psychedelics and the overlap, or the influencer, the inter-dependence, or the- well in the mutual influencing of those two states within the person and I was encouraged to go deeper that was kind of one of the mantras there was go deeper.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:36:05
Yes. But once I actually began the studies and started writing about them, and especially an article that I published in a Buddhist magazine called the Try Cycle where I explicitly, makes the comparison and start connecting the dots between your Buddhist practice and your Bodhicitta, the enlightened state, the DMT state, the psychedelic effect.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:36:36
, then once -, once the other rubber hit the road as it were, the, monastic community felt they had to distance themselves from me and, my ideas. So, there was some pressure coming from them as well to stop doing the research. So, I guess there were three factors. the religious community one, know my wife's Health and Family issues and your scientific ones.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:37:11
Yes. So I stopped the studies in '95 and moved up to Canada and then started to-, try to make some sense of my volunteers reports especially the interactive relational quality of the DMT effect as opposed choose the unit of mystical white light one which I was expecting and the feeling that it was more real than real , those were to findings that really struck me. I was really impressed with both of those aspects, so I started to look around for models. it was the models that I had brought to bear on the original studies were three; one was the psychoanalytic. this is- see in the DMT visions and voices were just repressed memories repressed, your conflicts or impulses, that we're then you kind of actual eyes to the mind. The other model was the psychopharmacology model. This is your brain on drugs. And the other model was the Buddhist model, which at least from the Zen perspective also treated the visions and the voices, as secondary; they weren't seeing a primary goal of one spiritual quest.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:39:08
So, all three of those models characterized the DMT effect as less real than real; it was a step down from reality. But in our volunteers, it was more real than real. So, I started to look around for models that would be consistent with DMT providing entry into a more real than real subjective experiences a more real than real subjective universe.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:39:47
So, I started to route around new physics: dark matter, parallel universes, dark energy. So, those were interesting. I mean, you could speculate that DMT modifies the receiving characteristics of the brain-mind complex in such a way that it's able to receive information that is real- subjectively real-, but it's usually invisible. So, that was a–
Rob Konrad 1:40:18
So, in a way, like to get into a radio station that you haven't previously discovered, and the way so out there, just like a different wavelength that we haven't discovered yet, but it's still there. DMT would basically choose into that frequency, if you wish, and sort of give a more practical plan- a practical example of that.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:40:36
Yes. You're- you're kind of changing the tuning of consciousness to be able to perceive things that you don't normally like a telescope. All those things are out there in outer space, but you just can't normally see them without, an enhancement of the mind-brain complex with the technology of a microscope, or telescope or what have you. And the brain is way more complicated than any machine we've ever built. So, it makes no sense that, if you profoundly modify the functioning of the brain-mind complex, you'd be able to perceive things that, – that are extent; they're real, they're externally objective.
Rob Konrad 1:41:44
So, this is not a way- a perspective that's really esoteric and very no woo-woo, in the worst kind of sense, but it's really like saying, Okay, look, we- 50 years ago, we didn't have microwaves, now, we have microwaves. We didn't ever imagine that we would have the ability to use a little flat device and so talk to anyone on this planet. Now, we have it because there is stuff out there, that's not we didn't know existed 50 years ago. So, it was really from a purely scientific perspective that you made this thought experiments. So, it wasn't like, Okay, I'm trying to find some- some reasoning for it. But it was a purely scientific approach.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:42:10
Right, but the analogy in a way breaks down because we're looking at where looking at purely subjective effects. So, with respect to a microscope, or in your terms of a telescope like, anybody can look through a microscope or looked through a telescope and you can take pictures that you could look at with a microscope or a telescope.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:42:45
But still, I just didn't completely worthless analogy, because everybody dreams, and everybody knows what a dream is like. And everybody can compare dreams. You can't look at somebody else's dream. But the- but the experience of dreaming is an established fact that people can compare notes and say, “Yeah, I dream, and this is the nature of my dreams.” And somebody will say, “Well, I dream too, and this is the nature of my dreams.” And you build up a consensus reality version of dreams, as it were. I, — One of the things I'd like to, – kind of joke about speculatively, is maybe one day they'll be cameras, or imaging collecting devices that can collect images of what's in dark matter, and you could take a picture, and you could show it to somebody, and they would say, “Oh, that's just like, what happens on your DMT.” But obviously that's a long way ahead in the future, if ever that kind of technology would, appear.
Rob Konrad 1:42:45
Rob Konrad 1:43:32
Can you talk a little bit about the dark matter example that you're giving as maybe not everyone is familiar with, what dark matter is, and how it could be a piece of the puzzle?
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:44:17
Well. So, dark matter- It's dark. It's invisible. It neither generates light nor reflects light. But it explains very large percentage of the universe as mass. You can tell that the mass is there, because it exerts gravitational effects. And they've calculated that 90% of the mass of the universe is invisible dark matter, there's a-, there's a notion of what's called dark energy too, which I'm less familiar with. And there was a paper just came out a few weeks ago about a dark fluid, which somehow combines dark matter with dark energy but in any event, it's stuff out there, which is invisible, but still it exerts effects and it's the majority of the mass in the universe. So, if it's the majority of the mass of the universe, it has to occupy space. If it occupies space, it must contain contents. So, what's to keep you from imagining that contents of dark matter- the dark universe-, couldn't be at some level or at some point in time, you're perceived, and they're building these incredibly expensive, complicated detectors for your dark matter.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:46:07
Well, the fundamental particle of Dark Matters called a Neutrino. So, they're developing these detectors for neutrinos in these huge, deep tunnels under Earth. So, they're, – They're kind of closing in on neutrinos, but the obvious place to go, if you're looking for the most sophisticated machine in the universe, is our brain. So, it seems to me there ought to be more emphasis placed on that than building these huge clunky machines.
Rob Konrad 1:46:43
So, the idea was, that maybe there is this dark matter. There is- let's put it this way- different world out there that we cannot perceive in this reality that we live in, but maybe DMT somehow opens up a channel, or gives us the ability to interact with. that a different layer of reality.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:47:04
Right. It's a working hypothesis. I mean, obviously, it's beyond speculative. But still, it, – it's a working hypothesis. I think you could design experiments with a working hypothesis like that the experiments would be complicated and might not be able to be accomplished for hundreds of years, maybe. But still, I think it's a reasonable avenue to pursue. But in the meantime, I was more thinking along the lines of other ways to look at the DMT effect, which wouldn't require the building a new machines, but could instead be focused on what we've got- I'm at hand at the moment- which is our mind-brain complex. So, the other way of looking at states of our- states of reality, which are normally invisible are the religious disciplines out there, they've been looking at spiritual realms which are, – which are usually invisible, they used and–, they use altered states in order to access those normal, the invisible states, and that they've been working- they've been, you're working all along to extract useful information from those states.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:48:52
One of the drawbacks of a purely mechanistic approach to the DMT effects, specifically, in the psychedelic state, in general, is what is the meaning and the message that's contained in those states, and the scientific models are more concerned with what with the nuts and bolts with how those things work, or come to pass, but what they're good for, isn't as important an emphasis and the religious traditions for millennia have been more or as much interested in what they're good for what can you learn from those states that you can't normally learn from everyday consciousness.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:49:43
So, yes, so I routed around Shamanism some and one of the strengths of the Shamanic model is they do attributes as much reality, or even more so to the normally invisible states which are, – which are made perceptible when you're under the influence of a psychedelic and they also extract, valuable tools; there's healing that's involved in, the Shamanic model.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:50:24
But, if non-Western model, it's non-theistic, which I think if it's going to really gain traction in other West that needs to incorporate God they incorporate spirits, spirits of plants, celestial spirits, but they don't really take you like, above the spirits like who created the spirits who controls them what's the information that is being transmitted through the spirits and, where does that come from.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:51:04
And also, Shamanism, as I think is still kind of ethically challenged. It's all, well– Stephen Buyer wrote a book called ‘Singing to the Plants' where he has a really great line in there. It's about Colombian Shamanism and he has a line in there saying, “There are good shamans and bad shamans, but they're all bad shamans.” And what he means by that is their whole model of health and disease and healing their model is if you're sick is because you've been cursed by a bad shaman. And if you hear somebody, you're turning that that curse away from the person and you're returning it to the bad shaman. So, it instantly becomes aggression, counter aggression, black magic, witchcraft Machismo to the Max fueled with Ayahuasca or other psychedelics, I know shaman and on in a Latin American country– He's an European and he's live there forever. And he told me in the state where he lives in one year, 12 shamans were murdered by other shamans. So it's unethically challenged field and an ethically challenged model and that is until say that Buddhism isn't ethically challenged, or the Western Religions aren't ethically challenged, but you would hope that any other model would at least be comparable or an improvement over the western-, the Western Model Shamanism.
Rob Konrad 1:53:03
So, what about Buddhism?
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:53:06
Well Buddhism is good in some ways because it's studies very carefully the contents of the mental states that are induced through meditation, and I suppose if I had been trained in the Tibetan tradition, I may have been more keen to continuing my investigations into Buddhism and DMT effect, because a large amount or a number of schools within the Tibetan schools are you focused on your visualization and the deities and interacting with the contents of those highly altered states, brought about through your chanting or your breathing, your visualizations but the school in which I was training that, the Zen school. The Soto Zen school is very down to earth Amaral sits completely rarefied.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:54:31
So when it speaks about the enlightened state and the visions that are on the way to the enlightened state, they tend to disregard the visions and the voices considering them kind of flotsam and jetsam, – kind of unreal material- which is being a shed on other way toward the desired unit of state. So, they don't really put much credence in the reality of the effects which the DMT volunteers were so impressed with, – the reality of, — And also at a purely personal level, I was discouraged within my community to pursue it any further. And, after a certain point we parted ways. So, in a way that gave me a license to return to my own spiritual roots. I was born and raised Jewish, and I had read a little bit of the Bible when I went to Hebrew school as a kid. But as a result of being cut loose from the Buddhist fold, I could then start reading the Bible again from an adult perspective, and also from a Zen perspective like to be able to kind of not be so swayed by my reactions to the material and the text there like, my cognitive your reactions, like this makes no sense for my emotional reactions like, this really pisses me off. But that was one of the things that was a, — Very useful consequence of my Zen training was, it allowed me to return to the Hebrew Bible with some equanimity and some spiritual maturity.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:56:58
So, for a number of reasons I started to dig into the Hebrew Bible. One of the reasons being that, well, perhaps there's a spiritual model in the Hebrew Bible, which is more consistent with a DMT effect, as described by my volunteers. So, I began reading the text, and as time went on, I began to notice this thing called a prophecy which started to resemble or started in my mind to look more and more like, the DMT effect. And when I use the word prophecy, it's a lot more expansive version, then what's usually used as the understanding of the term in the West nowadays, usually, when you think of prophecy, it's within the setting of predicting, or foretelling the future. But that's more of the will– So, that's kind of an artifact of the Greek translation of the word for prophecy which appears in Hebrew.
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:58:45
Well, the Hebrew word for prophecy, or for the person of the Prophet is Nabi. And the routes- when you look at it is usually translated as interpreter or spokesperson, or I'm already be elevated is another translation of the root of Nabi or even to bubble up but the notion of foretelling isn't built in to the Hebrew word, Nab. But the Greek translation of the Bible from Hebrew translated the word Nabi profanities, which means to see ahead, which is consistent with the Greek idea of Divination that divine- helped you divine that you could foretell through your contact with a spiritual world. So, in spiritual experiences were described in the Hebrew Bible as, Nebua or the experience of the Nabi, it was translated by the Greek into the term prophecies. So, your prophecy then became on associated only with foretelling and a man, predicting. But if you consider Prophecy and the Hebrew Bible as any spiritual experience then it really opens up the field of study because it could be inspiration, it could be kind of divinely in doubt courage, it could be creativity. It could be any altered state, like, if you open the first book of- or if you open the book of Ezekiel. The first chapter is an incredibly psychedelic experience very DMT like visions, invoices, out of body experiences very strong emotion, paralysis falls down.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:01:05
, there's the sound of roaring waters, there's ice that's above him blue white ice, there's a lightning, there's wheels, there's eyes, there's wings. Yes, so it wouldn't necessarily be well in the future this and that is going to happen. It could be anything that is a spiritual experience. So, I can cover a huge–
Rob Konrad 2:01:31
So, at that time, were you still considering the, what you call the bottom up approach, so, to basically whatever, let's put, it's a holy scriptures are there are basically a reflection of the experiences that people have through psychedelics or already at the stage where you said, “Okay, that might be what you call the top down approach.” So that's basically DMT is the tool that's a higher beings or ego or whatever you want to call it uses to communicate with us.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:02:07
Yes. Well, it's a top down versus bottom up model in your questions I really wasn't considering at the time. I was more- I was more trying to find spiritual experience that was like the DMT one. Both content wise, like the visions and voices in addition to being considered as real or more real than everyday reality, I started the model building after or toward the end of the prophetic states book when I started to look at a biological explanation for the prophetic experience. So, it's in the beginning of my investment– Well I should, — I explained that the prophetic states book DMT and the soul of prophecy, which came out in 2014, was the end of 16 years of study. I mean, it was a back-breaking endeavor. And actually, after I finished the study, I got really sick for a year.
Rob Konrad 2:03:22
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:03:23
It just completely spent me both, – mind and body and spirit were just completely depleted. So, it was a long process; wasn't easy to both read the Hebrew Bible 10 times through and extract every report, of every figure that was, – that was at all like, a spiritual effect, and categorizing those reports, using the same categorization that I used in the DMT process, then starting to look for the differences and then reading through the Bible, like another half dozen times to start to extract what does the information content of this book, because in phenomenal, logical comparison of the two states the prophetic state and the DMT state are phenomenal, logically very similar, I'd say 90% overlap. But you look at the DMT effect, and it has clearly not had the same impact on Western civilization and the world as the prophetic experience as laid down in the Hebrew Bible, so, I had to start to figure out, well what's the difference between those two states, and the difference in the information content.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:05:02
, the information content in the DMT state contains two things. One was the state itself- a description of the state- which the volunteers were very good at reporting- the state is like this, certain things happen, certain things take place. It looks like, this sounds like this, feels like this. But the content the actual- Well- the information, – The abstract, our cognitive material was pretty thin relatively speaking. It was more personal insights resolution of personal problems are questions. When it came to ethical or moral teaching the nature of God's nature of how to interact with oneself and with the outside world those were kind of elementary. They were kind of meager relative to the descriptions of the actual content. So one way in which the prophetic- Well the, the fundamental way in which the prophetic and the DMT states differ is the content-, the informational content and the meaning and the message. So, that required going, – once more going through the text with a fine-tooth comb to extract, the meaning- Well, yes to extract the meaning and the message.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:06:57
So, when you start to look, at the meaning plus the message, the figures in the Bible attributed to God – to an outside thing. It isn't on your mind. It isn't sending that, that you come to. It's endowed from outside and the experience, plays out in your mind and as more real than real. That's another hallmark of the prophetic experience. It is a completely sweeps away the ongoing reality that you're in and replaces it with a dialogue with I'm either God or God's angels.
Rob Konrad 2:07:49
Could that be just the purely psycho-pharmacological thing that you say. “Okay, DMT just has the effect in our brain that's things appear more real, that they are more real than real.” So, couldn't that be just a side effect of that particular drug?
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:08:08
Well I'm not considering that people in the text in the Hebrew Bible took drugs. I'm either plants or plant extracts. I'm more banking on the role of endogenous DMT that DMT increases within the human body and mediates the phenomenology of the visions and the voices of the prophetic experience, I think once you begin to postulate that the feeling of the reality of the DMT state is purely a brain phenomenon in a way you start to, – you begin to chase your tail; you began to go in an endless loop. And what I mean by that is, if this reality is given its sense of reality because of a steady trickle of DMT, which is endogenous, then, what does that mean? Like, are there parts of the brain which, mediates a feeling of your reality? In which case, you can't really tell if it's a false biological– Not false biological, but, well one of the things that Dennis McKenna likes to say is that I'm the whole notion of, – I'm of it all being chemistry. It's like, everything is chemistry. Our perceptions, our thoughts, our sense of reality.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:10:30
So, I think when we're looking at the source of the information that's downloaded, we need to take it at face value first, and then look for underlying mechanisms that would refute, taking it at face value the wall some people have accused me of slipping off of Occam's razor like Hawkins razor, as the simplest explanation is usually the truest. So, in this Daniel and Ockham's Razor is that it's your brain. But, back in the day and when not that long ago, Ockham's Razor was this is what's happening and let's just start from that assumption.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:11:26
So, I think people believing that it's just your brain or it's all your brain is a relatively new notion and up until maybe 100 years ago there was a sophisticated or maybe not 100 years ago, but yet spin knows, probably maybe close to 300 years now there was a sophisticated meta-physics which was both a scientific and theological way of looking at consciousness and the natural world, I mean, even Descartes with. I think therefore, I am believed in God, and that God communicated through humans through the Pineal Gland. So, even a so-called Stark materialist like Descartes was a theist. I mean, he believed in God and explained consciousness and thoughts and perceptions through a sophisticated metaphysics which you didn't exclude God; didn't exclude spiritual verities.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:12:49
, so, I'm kind of the school nowadays, that I do believe in an outside God who created brain in order to communicate with us. Yes, that's the top down model as opposed to, to the bottom up model which is it's your brain DMT is making the brain state that you're in feel more real than real. And that may be what's going on with a prophetic state that is occurring from the top down is that DMT is your mediating that feeling, but it's just your mediating, that feeling it's the way that our brain-mind's complex is able to feel that feeling, I mean, even though it's one that has to do with that relates to an outside level of reality.
Rob Konrad 2:13:54
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:13:54
Does that make sense?
Rob Konrad 2:13:56
And I think so, basically, your theory or your- what you postulate is, that's there is a higher being, there's a God and that God is using DMT to communicate with us through our brain or our brain was built to as a means of communication with that Deity and DMT, kind of, the key to unlock it.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:14:20
Well, I think that DMT is responsible for the phenomenology, for example, of the prophetic state of the feelings and the perceptions and the reality sense, but it's not responsible for the notions for the ideas for the information which is contained in the DMT or in the prophetic state in which case, I think that information is being downloaded from an outside source. But it has to take some apprehensive will form, it has to take some form that we're able to apprehend, to perceive, to feel. It has to have that that intensity to replace ongoing reality. It's, – It has to be something so, we can see, and we can hear and we can have an emotional connection to and then the mind- the cognitive up around us, – the rational apparatus-, the intellect can then extract the information from the visions, and the information itself is from the outside, – the outside stimulates.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:16:00
Let's say, the elevation of endogenous DMT to give that information, some form and then once you've got the form, you can extract the information and translate it into verbal notions, like, it's interesting in some of the Prophetic Encounters Leslie Zachariah, he's got these huge visions, and there's an angel that's in divisions, and he's just completely flummoxed. And he says, to the angel “What are these?” And, the angel says, “Well, don’t?”, and– So Zachariah says, “No, I don't know, that's why I'm asking. Please, tell me.” And then so then the angel translates the visions into words that Zachariah can understand, and then communicate to his audience. So, there's the intellect and there's the, what's called imagination, which is the arena- the screen on which the perceptions are played out. And then there's the intellect which is able to extract communicable information.
Rob Konrad 2:17:23
But, could you make that case for basically any religion or any type of religious work and you say, probably, in Hinduism, there were experiences or connections with beings and interactions with beings and experiences of different emotions, because in your book, you just go through a lot of different emotions and different states of mind and different states of experience. And one question that I had when I was reading this was like, okay, these are, I think, like, joy or fear, or being in an ecstatic stat. This is pretty, pretty normal human emotional vocabulary, in a way. Can you make the case for any religion because, it might as well be, – it was, might as well be one of the thousands of small religions that are out there? So, what- Why to focus on the Hebrew Bible and the Bible in general?
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:18:23
Well, for a number of reasons. One is that it's Western text and we can relate; it infuses Western civilization. I mean, our kids have even biblical names. There's Jacob and Isaac and Rebecca and Rachel and Sarah, the economy philosophy Western ethics and morality, architecture, on aesthetics, economics everything in the West, you can trace it back to the Bible, politics the nation state are current forms of government in the West are biblically focused and derived from your biblical concepts. And I think that the ideas contained resonate more with Western audience than, let's say, an Eastern religion or Shamanic jungle based or native based religion. And–
Rob Konrad 2:19:46
But it says, it's, in a way, biased more than the western audience, because I guess that's– Chinese people put it this way. Just pick an example, Chinese to have a different culture. They have different religions; different philosophical beliefs. But most likely– and that's awesome to know. And they can have the same a similar experience on under DMT. So, where does this connection then come from? I mean, they– Where is their experience coming from?
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:20:18
Well, it's a completely biased perspective. But I think it's important, — Bias to consider, like for example, if you walk into any head shop do you ever see the Ten Commandments? Or do you ever see a Bible? Or do you ever see a statue of Moses or a Jewish star? No. You see Ganesh. You see Tibetan Buddhist Bells. You see Tankas. You see molars. You see the Scripture of Great Wisdom. You might see Jesus, but I'd be surprised-, maybe a head shop in the south. But there's an incredible bias towards combining the psychedelic state with Eastern religions and Shamanism and an aversion and instinctual aversion to relating the psychedelic experience to the Western religions, especially Judaism. And I think that needs to be corrected. I think there ought to be alternatives to the jungle base native, indigenous religious model and the eastern model which isn't available, what would one of the problems with my prophetic states book is that it has kind of it causes a lot of people in the psychedelic community to Bristle. Like they'll start to react to Zionism, the Palestinians the punitive God all those kinds of things.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:22:23
, as a– Instead of taking an open-minded approach to the psychedelic state if there's one thing that psychedelics are supposed to do, it's not closed down your mind. And if you can't have an open mind, other ways of looking at the psychedelic experience, you shouldn't be taking psychedelics; you should be doing something else, if they're going to make your mind more closed. So, one of the things I feel is important about bringing up a Western model to the psychedelic experience that provides a necessary corrective to the overemphasis on the East and on Shamanism, as, ways to understand the state. And it's diffusing into the scientific community as well, like, if you read the book by young Bill Richards from Johns Hopkins, he's the lead psychologist there doing psychotherapy. He wrote a book called ‘Your Sacred Knowledge'.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:23:46
Yes. And he spends about three pages dismantling the Jewish prophetic tradition- I mean, as a way of understanding Z's psychedelic experience, for him, it's the New Age, it's– Well Vedanta, a Hindu philosophic approach and some Christianity but kind of mystical sort of Christianity and it's because of his emphasis on the mystical unit of state which he deems superior to the interactive relational state.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:24:34
Ffor him the mystical state is the peak of the mountain and the interactive relational state– See, — and, the paradigm of that is the prophetic experience is just the hilltops-, the surrounding hilltops, so according to who– Actually that's a question that I think is important to pose.
Rob Konrad 2:25:11
And you rather have a very long article about review of his book, which is also published a new website and you mentioned his criticism and you also said it's now he's speaking in terms of Christian faithful’s in a way. But aren't you doing the same with your theory? Because even if you look, if you look at the numbers, like how many– What's percentage of people believe for the planet like 0.3% or 4% and maybe take the Christian religion, which is quite close and away than we're probably down to a third. But, what's with all the rest? So, Aren't you make the same bias and saying, “Okay, spiritual experiences are inherently Western and rooted in this religion”? Is this being that the same bias that you make independently of whether it's valued in a certain way?
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:26:08
Yes. Well not wanting to belabor the point, but there would be no Christianity without Judaism. So if you look at, where the Christianity, come from, and Jesus was Jewish.
Rob Konrad 2:26:33
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:26:34
12 of the apostles were Jewish. Paul was Jewish. Yes, so, in a way, it is a way to be Jewish without being Jewish. That's my sense of a lot of Christianity.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:26:51
So if– Yes and about one I guess- yes-, there's a huge number of Christianity based religions out there-, 50% of the planet, probably, Islam– I mean, even though Islam discounts a lot of the narratives in the Hebrew Bible, it's still is, – it's still– in some ways sees the Hebrew Bible as a precursor as an earlier stage of Islam. So, I think even the two other major Western religions are still quite related to dependent on influenced by Judaism. And I'm not necessarily making a pitch for you, in Judaism- Quad Judaism as I am for the interactive relational academic experience or spiritual experience as compared to the unit of mystical white light religious model of religious or psychedelic experience.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:28:16
And when you look at interactive relation, no religious traditions- the one that has got the most mature sophisticated approach is Judaism, it could be anything else actually. But Judaism has worked with the interactive relational experience more than any other of the other Western traditions and I think there's a certain purity to Jewish thought. If you look at the two main concepts which are transmitted in the Hebrew Bible one is the golden rule “Love your fellow as yourself” and, the other is “There is only one God”, so, those are the two basic teachings of the Hebrew Bible and those are very simple; they're quite pure. You can really kind of use those in the fractalization of everything else. I mean everything else kind of flows out of those two basic notions and, they're derivable from a careful examination of the interactive relational spiritual experience.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:29:53
, Hinduism- You were speaking about Hinduism-, they have Gods and, they have deities and spirits which are able to communicate with humans and that's probably true and they, – and it's believed and felt and experienced is true as well.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:30:17
But I'm an abstracting kind of person. So, I'm always looking for the highest level of abstraction. What is the first cause? What's the original source? – – Where does everything start from? so if you have beings, if you have deities, if you have spirits, – Where do they come from? Like for example when I was involved with the Buddhist community, we did your lots of bowing to statues and to pictures of deceased teachers and Buddhi-[unintelligible] we prayed to them.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:30:58
And I always kind of chafed against that like I thought to myself, I would rather, bow to and pray to the highest- not some semi-creation- of the highest, So, I mean, that's, been my predilection is to well if there is one God out of which everything else emanates then I want to learn as much as I can about that one god relate to that one God as much as possible. You'll learn what communicating with that God is like and how to get the most out of it-, those kinds of things, so- Yes. Go ahead.
Rob Konrad 2:31:39
In a way, I'm, by no means, an expert in terms of religions because they can no– I'd rather agnostic state to it to say I could, I can see there's nothing I can prove, nothing I can disprove and I don't even want to get started to wrap my head around understanding all this. But before religions like Hinduism, I've seen some very interesting, let's say, clarifications on the argument that there are multiple deities and so one teacher explaining that it's actually not multiple separate gods of the deity that you have that you prayed to. But it's, in a way, it's also just one day that takes different forms that takes several thousand forums and Hinduism is what something might appear as I don't know, I don't offend or is that something might appear at the different being or different deity or multiple deities, but essentially, it's just one deity that takes the form that it needs to take to communicate with whoever it addresses. So, I guess you might be able to make a point that there's just one big God or whatever it is, that's– Is there, even in different religions? But I mean–
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:32:55
Well, Yes, your belief determines what you do so– And I think it's important to know, in the front of your mind who you're praying to? Are you praying to one of God's messengers or one of his angels or his angels or one of the intermediaries lower down? Or are you praying to the Most High? so, that's up to you.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:33:04
I think, what–, one of the dangers of focusing on the intermediaries is that you begin to treat the intermediaries as the first cause, or as the primary being. It's an easy thing to do. You deal with the messenger with the intermediary rather than the king. So, yes, there're, — I understand the idea that there's a one overarching perhaps, deity in Hinduism, even Shamanism, but it depends on who you pray to, and why. So, I think, in that way, if you can keep the idea in mind of one God, it simplifies things tremendously.
Rob Konrad 2:34:19
And in the context of the DMT experiences that people have, you've always talked about– also in your books, you always talk about multiple beings that people encounter. So that would be intermediaries, whether you call them angels or messengers, that whatever, so that's DMT doesn't– DMT opens the way to the intermediaries, in a way, not to the highest being.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:34:44
Right, right. I think that's true. Yes, yes, the intermediaries are perceptible. And that's what DMT provides is a channel or a vehicle or vessel, a conduit- a perceptible apprehensive conduit for what is normally incomprehensible, imperceptible normally invisible Yes, yes, so, I think that the beings– I mean this is another discussion– but the beings, I think are coalesced information. In a way they provide a perceptible thing that you carry the information that comes from your something that is imperceptible, one or two of our volunteers described a feeling of the One God or an inkling or an intimation. But only in a, –If wasn't the most striking aspect of the effect- most striking aspect of the, of the DMT effect is obviously the content of that state. And to the extent that there are beings filling that space, then that's the thing that draws most of your attention.
Rob Konrad 2:36:40
And you talk about cause and effect as a way to explain God, also, in your- I don't know, if it's the first or second book, but you mentioned that that's kind of the, the ultimate argument that there has to be some, some costs eventually, and you can possibly get to the very first calls or the very last effects because they're, there is none, in a way. So that's, that's–
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:37:10
Well, there's- Well, there's– So, there isn't any that's comprehensible something which existed even before existence, like what created the Big Bang that's incomprehensible; you cannot even imagine it.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:37:35
Yes. And what occurs after existence is over, what exists–, once, there's the Big Crunch. Yes, that's completely incomprehensible because our minds and our brains say, contain energy, contain matter, occupy space, and those are quality these of existence rather than non-existent. So, I think once we start to look at what's before and after existence, it kind of breaks down.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:38:10
But, yes–, the whole idea of cause and effect was one of the ways that I first got my toehold into understanding God or appreciating God or realizing that there is a God because in Buddhism or the Eastern religions you notice that cause and effect as the underlying mechanism of existence;, everything which exists has precursors, everything which will exist in the futures that dependent on the present and the past.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:38:48
, so, if everything is like– If everything has a beginning and a middle and an end like, a cause and effect, then what created cause and effect?, so, if cause and effect has got a beginning and a middle and an end what created and sustained cause and effect and what exists like after cause and effect. If everything has got a cause and cause and effect has got a cause and if everything ends, according to cause and effect then cause and effect ends as well, so what takes the place of cause and effect what you created cause and effect what contains causing effect. Yes, so then I started to think about God, as the creator and sustained of cause and effect. And after cause and effect is gone, or before cause and effect existed there's God, which is an incomprehensible idea, but it's still- it's one you have to kind of chew on, also with respect to cause and effect they used to, — They are teaching in Buddhism or at least the Buddhism that I was trained in is that cause and effect is impersonal which is grinds away; it's like a law of nature. But like, the laws of nature cause and effect encourages certain things and discourages others. So, I thought, well in a way, it's opinionated. It's got certain things that are encouraging you to do certain things and other things that are discouraging you, like for example, a few are pissed off and disgruntled and thinking about hurting somebody, and you stub your toe, and you go, “Ouch.” I mean, that's built into cause and effect, and that cause and effect mechanism discourages you from feeling anger, resentful, plotting revenge.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:41:20
, so that, in a way, isn't completely neutral. In a way, it's a flavor. It is a specific quality of cause and effect. So, it says, if the laws of nature and you have, the laws of morality are both third, they're, – they're both operating along a certain kind of trajectory, which is I'm evolving into a desired outcome, so I started to wonder and still do, but I think I've got a somewhat of a handle on it is-, who's discouraging and who's encouraging why it is causing effect the way it is why is kindness generally rewarded and meanness, generally not?, so that must reflect the creator and sustain or of cause and effect, which, in, the Jewish in a model would be God. So, you want to learn about what is God's nature, – loving and kind and just omnipotent, omniscient, a temporal- those kinds of things. And you could start to articulate those qualities through careful reading of the text, which I think it provides.
Rob Konrad 2:42:41
I guess that's– I mean, the whole issue of God and holy shelf of what costs what and what religion there is something that's people have been arguing about discussing for centuries, millennia, and even the longer than that. But want to go back to one quote, you mentioned several times in both of your books by one of your mentors. And that was– That is, “if so, so, what” and with regards to DMT and with regards to the potential connection that we have to all this then is so what's for us to learn if there's this pathway that we can access it away.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:43:21
Right. Well, but get back to what you're saying about the nature of God and the nature of religious verities can be debated, and it has been debated for millennia. That's true, but I would hate to see this psychedelic research field use or- use the psychedelic state to advance one particular religious viewpoint, which I think is taking place now. It's dispensing with the interactive relational one, which is the Jewish one and substituting or deify, or placing on the very highest level, the Advaita Vedanta mystical unit of religious model. There's no reason why the psychedelic community needs to come down on that particular side of the fence. I think it's premature conclusion. I am to just say; the interactive relational stage is as low level. It is really– It's a bad idea. I don't think it is intellectually sound. I think, as it's theologically suspect and I think it's not responsible at a moral and an ethical level, to say psychedelics prove that the fundamental religious experiences x, y and z. I don't think it – I don't think it really does that at all. I think it establishes that you can be influenced in your beliefs by the psychedelic drug experience and depending on what your beliefs are, they become more certain. But that doesn't mean that other religious models’ theological perspectives are not just as, valid.
Rob Konrad 2:45:49
Okay. So, what's the future for DMT research? What would you- What would you like to see happening next months-years-decades?
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:46:00
Well, if so, what right- Yes, yes. Well it was a quote from Danny Friedman who studied psychedelics at Yale, and I met him Chicago UCLA. He was quite the guy. Yes, he basically believes that the best place for psychedelics was in religion not necessarily science.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:46:31
But, I'm not sure I agree with that. I think the- I think, well, you can look at all kinds of applications for those psychedelic state and if, – if you look at those applications, it's apparent that, psychedelics are closing in on the title of panacea, they help OCD. They help depression. They help post-traumatic stress. They, – They increase your appreciation for nature. They keep you from spouse meeting [inaudible]. They improve your chances of staying out of prison.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:47:25
They're good for eating disorders; good for openness. They help your spiritual development. Yes. -, the panaceas. But if you look at Charles Manson's group which is an example I always like to bring up, Charles Manson gave LSD to his followers and they were serial murders but they came at the experience with a certain set of pre-existing values and beliefs and personality structure, they're sociopaths, they were violent. They felt that they were taking advantage of and they wanted to get back at society.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:48:21
So, Manson believes those things. He spun this strange ideology around them called Helter Skelter by which involves your race wars and him and has family coming out on top after the race wars and stuff and they took enough LSD Charles Manson and those beliefs became cemented. They became their worldview; unshakable convinced. And they went ahead and followed through on their new- their new found religion, so, I think any drug which can affect such wildly disparate results has got more than going- as got more going on than it's entheogenic or it's it causes people to becoming serial killers, nobody in the current wave of research has become a serial killer and, nobody in Manson's group became monks. So I think we need to dig deeper into what psychedelics are doing in order to maximize their benefit and minimize their harm and I think if you look at these drugs as stimulating the imagination and then maybe from the clinical point of view stimulating the placebo response, as their fundamental effects and everything else is higher level structure that the placebo effect then works on.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:50:15
So it's like the lower level of the things that you see psychedelics do are centered on their enhancing the placebo effect. If you have somebody in a depression study, then the placebo enhancement will work on the anti-depressant, your model that overlays the placebo effect, which is kind of stirring the pot if you want to be murder and, that's your overlying conceptual emotional structure the placebo enhancement effect works on that. If you've got OCD, if you got stress, if you want to be more creative, the overlying structure– Look there ought to be some physical analogy you can make, it isn't quite like just an amplification. But it's-, it's more of the coming to the full fruition of in [unintelligible], or primitive or, hints or intimations of how you want to be, what you want to believe, the way you want your life to evolve. Those are the overlying structures, which are worked on from below by the enhancement of the placebo effect, which I think takes place with psychedelics, which would then explain the panacea, like your property or your properties that you're seeing with your psychedelic research with these drugs now.
Rob Konrad 2:52:13
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:52:15
So, it bespeaks kind of, an epistemological kind of worms, because it kind of is– It's a way to start to deconstruct who we are. But I haven't really worked out that step thread yet. But if the whole–, if the–If who we are, and what we believe is simply more or less active placebo at work, then we really have to start to you look in the mirror a bit more carefully. And I think psychedelics can push us to looking in the mirror in that way, if we're open minded about what they do. Not necessarily that they're entheogenic, or they make you into a serial killer, but they reveal to us the nature of mind, and how we relate it to reality.
Rob Konrad 2:53:31
So, in the context of the placebo effect, how do you see the current trends- so to speak, of micro dosing, so taking miniscule doses of psychoactive substances to enhance ourselves without going through the full experience that's high dose would offer.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:53:58
Right. Well, so micro dosing is as like a relative term. You can take, in a very, very small doses which are completely imperceptible. You wouldn't be able to distinguish them from a placebo. And back in the day there were some older studies giving low doses of LSD to depressives-, to depressed and patients, and that, they gave very small doses on every day and these depressed and patients improved at the same time course, that you would see in the case of antidepressants like, Prozac. And the long term pharmacological effects of Prozac and of LSD are quite comparable. They downregulate serotonin receptors so, small doses of LSD, for example in a way could be working like Prozac like, an anti depressant.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:55:05
And there are some studies giving Prozac to normal volunteers. These are older studies. And they've demonstrated some improvement in mental state mood performance- those kinds of things.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:55:22
If you're taking a small dose, but you're still feeling in effect, it can be, inotropic,like, Adderall or Modafinil. It can just act, like a mild stimulant, so, you could be, thinking more sharply, more quickly, you have some novel ideas.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:55:46
Yes, so-, like in our DMT studies, small – the smaller than threshold, doses of the drug were psychoactive and some people, they like those sub-psychedelic doses that they were stimulatory. One person described them as MDMA, like, one person described them as Opiate like. So might be just, kind of, slightly buzzed on one on a particular micro dose you like, a couple strong cups of coffee with some sparkles added in.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:56:27
And I think once you start to tip into the psychedelic arena– Once there's kind of the–, with a psychedelic effect, I think you then start to tiptoe into the activation of the placebo response. So, you can- maybe- be more convinced of things that you wish you were more convinced of their truth, let's say, or you can act in ways that you would like to act-, more than you were before- because you're certain of them in a ways that you weren't before. So that I think is where you start to drift into the placebo enhancement.
Rob Konrad 2:57:12
I see. I see. You met Albert Hofmann, the person who discovered LSD. Was it, at that time, when you were already in the process of this new approach that you discovered for yourself? Or was it before that?
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:57:37
Well, I met Hoffman when I was on sabbatical in 1992, so I was about-, I completed the first study the end of '91. So I was going through Western European meeting with people and describing our results, I was still pretty hard boiled if, like this is your brain on drugs. And Yes, yes. I mean, I wasn't anywhere near to where I've gotten to since then.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:58:10
Yes. Well it was a fun afternoon with Dr. Hofmann and we drank tea up at his place. A couple other, psychiatrists were with us- Yes- in his, beautiful house is beautiful yard while I was– So I have a question for you on about Albert Hofmann. It's a very unknown piece of trivia. What is our Hofmann's wife's name?
Rob Konrad 2:58:52
I have no idea. No idea.
Rob Konrad 2:58:55
Anita Hoffman. Okay.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:58:55
Yes. Most people don't. I mean, everybody knows that Hofmann's first name was Albert. Right? Yes. Yes. But, but his wife's name was Anita. Anita Hoffman.
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:59:14
Yes, so Anita Hoffman, made tea and, we must be where we're talking about–, there are a couple things we spoke about that day, one was micro dosing.
Rob Konrad 2:59:23
Dr. Rick Strassman 2:59:24
, Hoffman was a keen fan of my micro dosing like 10 micro-grams, 20 micro-grams. And he was also a big fan of one of his inventions, which was called Ergotamine, which– No, no, I don't mean Ergotamine. I mean– I'm blanking on the word- on the name of the drug. Well, not Cafergot. It might be Ergotamine, but it was an Ergo-alkaloid, which he developed around this same time that he developed LSD; it may have been a few years later. Yeah. And it was a really good Inotropic, slow down dimension development in early spring function. And it's still prescribed. It's called hydrogen that's the natural drug, it's popular in Europe, I think it's included in some brain tonics that are relatively popular, and some people take it in the states as well. Yeah so, micro dosing was a topic and your hydrogen was a topic just besides the politics and his beautiful home and his great stories.
Rob Konrad 3:00:57
Yes. So, what's next for you? You have– You're still involved in the Cottonwood Foundation?
Dr. Rick Strassman 3:01:08
Well Cottonwood is, – is mostly treading water these days. I mean, I started it, maybe, 2007 or so. So almost 12 years ago. Yes. But other groups are doing good work with respect to funding research as acting as, fiscal sponsors kind of working on the kinds of things that Cottonwood was founded to work on, I was just beginning to write the prophetic states book around then. So, the main thing that Cottonwood did was to act as the fiscal sponsor for the DMT documentary. We got a lot of-, we got a lot of donations and funnel them through Cottonwood as a tax deductible thing.
Dr. Rick Strassman 3:02:11
But if-, mostly lying fallow these days, one of our ideas was to build a free standing Research Institute, completely dedicated to psychedelic research and it would include all the disciplines which touch upon and can be touched upon by the psychedelic state, anthropology, religion, economics, physics, chemistry, pharmacology, new religion. Yes so that has not yet materialized which hopefully the dream or the vision of Cottonwood will help inspire other groups to put something like that together. Yes. But like in terms of being clearing houses for you and information working as an activist or an advocate funding research, groups like, maps and Hefter and CSP in Beckley foundation are all, doing that kind of work quite nicely now.
Rob Konrad 3:03:15
Okay, and so, what's next for you personally? Any new book or any new- anything? New movies, new books, new discoveries?
Dr. Rick Strassman 3:03:30
Well, I completed a large project mid-last year. It was working as one of the three co-editors for a special issue of frontiers in pharmacology on psychedelic drug research in the 21st century. I was working with a couple other guys, Andrew Gallimore in Japan and Ed [inaudible] in hungry collecting manuscripts and finding reviewers and working the manuscripts through the review process, so, I completed my part of that work. It was about an 18 month project. So, that took a lot of time and I finished that at the summer. And I'm working out some auto biographical fiction; completed first issue or the first volume. And it describes that year of being sick and kind of a, – kind of a humor–, it's a humorous- it's a humorous approach to near fatal illness. So, it's my first stab at fiction, which hopefully it will be going to the press in a few weeks. I'm gathering a blurbs right now. Yes. Actually, if you would like to take a look at it and thinking about endorsing it, I could send you the PDF.
Rob Konrad 3:05:00
Absolutely. Absolutely. Please, sent over. Would love to. And then I guess it will be published on your website, the rickstrassman.com. There will be more information about this.
Dr. Rick Strassman 3:05:10
rickstrassman.com is my website, and I have a Facebook presence, too. So, you can contact me see what's, what's going on through Facebook as well.
Rob Konrad 3:05:22
Wonderful. So, Rick, we went on for quite some time now and a half hours almost. So I want to– I don't want to keep you for too much longer, although it's really fascinating. And then– Yes, I could go on for hours. But there's two questions I always ask everyone that I'm talking to. And the first question is, this is a series of interviews with extraordinary people, and you are progressing the world's and our, well, the humanity, I could say, with your research, but also know with the thought experiments or with your, your research that you do. So, who do you consider someone extraordinary?
Dr. Rick Strassman 3:06:06
Alright. If you asked me that when we did our pre-interview– I didn't think about it. So who do I think is extraordinary? Extraordinary?, I like Jordan Peterson, and I like Tim Ferriss. Maybe those might be the two people that just popped up in my mind, they're hard working. They've got their feet on the ground. So, really pushing the envelope, they're really challenging people to be who they are to the ultimate degree to bring good into the world. So those are the first two people that come to mind.
Rob Konrad 3:06:59
Wonderful. So, my last question to you would be, what's to tell anyone who's watching this? Or to anyone who's listening to this? What's your message? What's your most important message?
Dr. Rick Strassman 3:07:13
My most important message? Well, I would say it's the golden rule. I think that's, that's the bottom line of how to treat everything out there to love it as much as you love yourself, which is tough because a lot of people don't love themselves so, in order to love things they need to love themselves and it's sort of, I think it has the capacity or the potential to be a very powerful positive feedback loop to love your, – To love on your fellow as yourself. So your fellow is everything other than you, which is close at hand.
Rob Konrad 3:08:07
Yes, Rick, I think it's much more for a time. It's been a pleasure and I'm very interested what's will come out of here, research next.
Dr. Rick Strassman 3:08:20
Great. Well, great. Yes, well, thanks Rob. It was a pleasure. We really covered a lot of territory today.
Rob Konrad 3:08:25
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