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The Third Wave Podcast

Changing Our Minds
With Don Lattin

Podcast summary

Author Don Lattin joins us to discuss the direction of the psychedelic movement, and how we can avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. We hear about the psychedelic experiences that shaped Don’s interest in the spiritual, and how plant medicines have changed his life for the better.

Podcast highlights:

  • Don has extensive experience covering religion and spirituality for the SF Chronicle

  • Believes that to avoid another cultural backlash against psychedelics, we need to play by the rules

  • Natural psychedelics, used in traditional context, helped Don quit antidepressants

For years, Don worked as a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle, writing about spirituality and religion. The large number of spiritual-but-non-religious groups in San Francisco gave him plenty to write about… and he was no stranger to the thriving psychedelic community. Since 2006, Don has been writing books about religion and spirituality, including “The Harvard Psychedelic Club” and “Changing Our Minds.”

Don believes that the counter-culture movement of the 60s and 70s set back the acceptance of psychedelics, in some ways. Timothy Leary’s brash approach to spreading the word of psychedelic enlightenment is partially to blame, says Don. If we are serious about getting psychedelics accepted into mainstream society, we need to learn from the mistakes of the Second Wave of psychedelics.

To avoid provoking another backlash, we need to take a measured approach to psychedelics, Don believes. He highlights the work of research institutions like MAPS and the Hefter institute, who are careful to work within the system, and keep psychedelics within the view of mainstream science.

Despite the good work that researchers are doing, it will only take one big media scandal to set things back. So far the media has treated psychedelic research with a positive spin, says Don – but it could all change in an instant. Don paints a picture of the Third Wave of psychedelics as teetering on a cliff-edge. It’s going to be difficult, he posits, to keep everything on track.

We need to be especially cautious with promoting psychedelics due to the trauma they can induce if not used appropriately. A good example of this is Don’s first experiences with psychedelics. He first took LSD at 19, and describes it as a beautiful, profound experience – he saw God, Mother Earth, and the meaning of life. Merely a month or two later, he tripped again – but this time had a nightmare experience that traumatized him and left him suffering from flashbacks.

The experience meant that he avoided psychedelics for decades. Then he decided he wanted to experience psychedelic plant medicines in their traditional context, with guidance and support. His experiences with psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca were a world apart from his nightmare LSD trip from his youth, and have helped him to stop taking antidepressant medications.

Overall Don believes that we can change people’s minds about psychedelics if we use them responsibly, respect their traditional context, and promote their medical benefits. It will be possible to achieve a smooth transition into the Third Wave of psychedelics – but it might not be easy.

Show links:

Changing Our Minds – on the psychedelic renaissance through the eyes of scientists, shamans and psychonauts.

The Harvard Psychedelic Club – a history of the characters involved in the counter-culture movement of the 60s and 70s.

This Week in Psychedelics:

A Study partially funded by the Beckley Foundation has just been published, showing that alkaloids present in ayahuasca can help adult neurons grow. This could be one of the ways ayahuasca helps treat depression.

Videos from Breaking Convention are now up on the Breaking Convention youtube channel.

The DMTx research project is looking for volunteers or donations – the project aims to extend the DMT trip using anaesthetic techniques, in order to learn more from the experience. You can apply to be involved now!

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