Making Sense — Roland Griffiths

On:Psychedelic Science

Episode: 177

Date: December 2019

Key Subjects:

  • Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
  • Discussion of current state of therapeutic and neuro-scientific research into psychedelics.
  • Risk / adverse effects of psychedelics:
    • Seemingly less risks in terms of addiction or toxicity.
      • Less driven by dopaminergic effect than traditional drugs of abuse.
    • But, psychologically destabilizing experiences can trigger “dangerous behavior”.
      • Highlights importance of set, setting, guide, post-experience integration and excluding “vulnerable” population (at risk for psychotic disorders).
    • Long-term adverse effects to user population are material (high single digits).
      • Warning against premature widespread usage in general population.
  • MDMA has been associated with neurotoxicity.
    • While some research may have been controversial, there are many studies pointing to its neurotoxicity to certain parts of the brain.
      • Indications of memory problems in heavy usage population.
      • May not be relevant to therapeutic dosages and frequency.
  • Uniqueness of psychedelic experience highlights importance of therapeutic approach and limited benefits of recreational use.
    • Importance, enduring salience.
    • Pro-social and reorganizational impact.
  • Cross-diagnostic applicability:
    • Not necessarily targeted to specific parts of the brain (specific receptors).
    • Higher order effect may cut across a variety of therapeutic applications (depression, addiction, PTSD, etc.)
  • Discusses of Harris’ recent psilocybin experience:
    • Harris key conclusion: consciousness at its core is imperturbable.
  • 7/10

Worth Listening

Interesting conversation with one of the key figures in the development of psychedelic research. Balanced in that the discussion covers both the adverse effects of psychedelics as well as the uniqueness, endurance and potential therapeutic benefits of the psychedelic experience. Helpful in pointing out that microdosing seemingly has no real science behind it. 

Perhaps less helpful in continued efforts (similar to “Waking Up“) to capture the experience in theoretical and absolute constructs such as “being in the now”, “observing consciousness the way it is”, “being aware of the intrinsic selflessness of consciousness”, “cutting through the sense of self”, etc., as opposed to a more practical and direct interpretation: the importance of temporarily experiencing a different now, a different consciousness, allowing you to change perspective and loosen up a bit (the loosening grip of previously held beliefs and previously suppressed or compressed information traveling up the brain hierarchy, etc.).


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