I grew up in a Conservative Jewish home, and went through my bar mitzvah ritual. I obtained my MD in New York City, and returned to California for psychiatry training as well as for a fellowship in clinical research. After finishing my DMT project in , I worked in clinical psychiatry until 3 years ago. Gradually, my interests in Eastern religions, brain physiology, and psychedelic drugs gelled into an interest in the biology of spiritual experience. It seemed to me that there were significant similarities between descriptions of psychedelic drug states and the effects of Eastern meditation practices. I thought these correspondences must reflect underlying biological processes common to both states.
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I grew up in a Conservative Jewish home, and went through my bar mitzvah ritual. I obtained my MD in New York City, and returned to California for psychiatry training as well as for a fellowship in clinical research.
After finishing my DMT project in , I worked in clinical psychiatry until 3 years ago. Gradually, my interests in Eastern religions, brain physiology, and psychedelic drugs gelled into an interest in the biology of spiritual experience. It seemed to me that there were significant similarities between descriptions of psychedelic drug states and the effects of Eastern meditation practices.
I thought these correspondences must reflect underlying biological processes common to both states. DMT is an endogenous psychedelic substance, found in hundreds of plants and every mammal which has been studied, including in humans. It was a logical candidate for an endogenous compound mediating spiritual experience—to the extent that DMT effects and spiritual experiences overlapped.
There are other endogenous compounds with psychoactive effects, but since DMT had a track record of prior safe use in humans, I decided to begin with it, rather than other compounds that would require a lot more preliminary toxicology work to satisfy the regulators.
We thought that mystical unitive enlightenment-like states would predominate. Also, near-death states, since I had speculated that DMT might be released near death because of the stress involved in dying and DMT in animals appears to rise in response to stress.
Also, I had a decades-long Zen Buddhist practice which informed my method of supervising sessions as well as my theories regarding the types of effects I might see — which were the unitive, concept-less, image-less, formless types that Zen emphasizes. Perhaps if I had used another compound for my studies with more unitive properties, such as 5-methoxy-DMT, my expectations would have been met more consistently.
But, I studied DMT and this is what we found. I decided to emphasize the spiritual nature of these states while at the same time positing a biological route to them, and an inextricably interwoven relationship between the spiritual and physical. Nevertheless, the spiritual literature and worldview seems, now, more applicable than a scientific one.
One relates to the content of the experience, rather than being dissolved into it. The Hebrew Bible as a spiritual text also has the advantage of being our bread and butter within Western civilization. That content is the nature of God and providence, moral-ethical issues, and the linear nature of history. One we have the vocabulary of prophecy more in mind, we can start to explore the psychedelic experience using that lens — by doing so I believe we will be able to integrate the spiritual properties of the psychedelic drug experience in a way that neither Buddhism nor shamanism has done.
That is, they perform a certain function for God. Within the context of my DMT research, I believe that the beings that the volunteers saw could be conceived of as angelic — that is, previously invisible, incorporeal spiritual forces that are engarbed or enclothed in a particular form — determined by the psychological and spiritual development of the volunteers — bringing a particular message or experience to that volunteer.
Only one volunteer had a classic mystical experience — and even in that case, he was led, helped, pulled, and pushed toward that state by what appeared to be angelic aides. Ayahuasca, which contains DMT in an orally active form, is much more manageable — effects begin in minutes, peak at hours, and are resolved in hours. There are countless field reports of healing of physical, emotional, and addictive problems within the context of ayahuasca use — either in syncretic churches, medical clinics, or shamanic use.
More and more literature is appearing in this regard, and more sophisticated scientific studies are now beginning to take place. This article was republished under Creative Commons license. Source: Boing Boing. DMT is the psychedelic molecule found in the powerful Amazonian plant brew ayahuasca. This interview was conducted in Rick Strassman. We respect your privacy. Author Recent Posts. Avi Solomon. Avi Solomon is a gardener and tech writer from the United States.
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DMT: The Spirit Molecule
From to our guest conducted DEA-approved clinical research at the University of New Mexico in which he injected sixty volunteers with DMT, one of the most powerful psychedelics known. His detailed account of those sessions is an extraordinarily riveting inquiry into the nature of the human mind and the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. DMT, a plant-derived chemical that is also manufactured by the human brain, consistently produced near-death and mystical experiences. Many volunteers reported convincing encounters with intelligent nonhuman presences. Nearly all felt that the sessions were among the most profound experiences of their lives. Our guest also believes that alien abduction experiences are brought on by accidental releases of DMT. If used wisely, DMT could trigger a period of remarkable progress in the scientific exploration of the most mystical regions of the human mind and soul.
Dr. Rick Strassman Explains Why DMT is “The Spirit Molecule”
He has held a fellowship in clinical psychopharmacology research at the University of California San Diego and was Professor of Psychiatry for eleven years at the University of New Mexico. He is also the author of the well-known book DMT: The Spirit Molecule which summarizes his academic research into DMT, and experimental studies regarding the substance, and also includes his own reflections and conclusions based on this scientific research. Strassman was born in Los Angeles, California on February 8, He graduated from Ulysses S.
In this chapter, we begin following the spirit molecule into more unexpected territory. This terrain is not so easy to recognize or understand because the experiences are less clearly related to the thoughts, feelings, and bodies of our volunteers. Rather, they suggest freestanding, independent levels of existence about which we are at most only dimly aware. A hallucination?