How Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy Changed My Life

A new paradigm: Mind Medicine Australia’s mission to change mental health treatment.

Tania DeJong
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From Singing to Psilocybin

I don’t drink or smoke. I’ve never taken any drugs till four years ago. Yet today, my life revolves around psychedelic medicines — heavily stigmatized substances still illegal in this country and most others across the world.

How did this happen?

Singing has always been my super wonder drug! Neuroscience shows that singing fires up the right temporal lobe of our brain, releasing endorphins and makes us happier, healthier, smarter and more creative. Our neurotransmitters connect in new and different ways, improving our memory, language and concentration.

When we sing with other people this effect is amplified. What was not understood until recently is that singing in groups triggers the communal release of serotonin and oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and even synchronizes our heartbeats. Group singing can produce satisfying and therapeutic sensations even when the sound produced by the vocal instrument is not of high quality. Everyone singing in a group is lifted up, no matter their singing ability.

That’s why belonging to a choir is a great way to address isolation, boredom, anxiety, PTSD, depression and even dementia.

Twelve years ago I created the charity Creativity Australia and the social inclusion program With One Voice. My hope was to bring people from different backgrounds, generations, faiths and cultures, haves and have-nots together through the experience of singing in choirs. We are changing the world, one voice at a time and alleviating loneliness, depression and social isolation.

My ultimate mission in life is to help people find their voice, unleash creative potential and bring light into our shadows. I’ve witnessed how song can be a powerful tool in achieving this end.

I also believe psychedelics have a monumental role in helping achieve this. In fact, I know they will allow me to scale this mission in a way I’d never dreamed possible.

Over the past two decades, I’ve founded seven companies and three charities. I’m a Member of the Order of Australia, a sought-after global speaker, and an international soprano, performing both as a soloist and as part of a group. I’ve released 12 albums.  Throughout my life I’ve always had a niggling feeling that I’m not experiencing the full picture in spite of all my achievements.

I hope this article provides a deeper understanding of why I co-founded Mind Medicine Australia (MMA).

Taking an illegal substance had never occurred to me until stumbling across Michael Pollan’s article in The New Yorker magazine titled “The Trip Treatment” via a blog I received from Tim Ferriss. Reading it not only made me aware for the first time of the current resurgence in psychedelic research, but also helped me to understand how these ancient plant medicines were assisting people to heal from depression and trauma and come to terms with end-of-life anxiety. Something about this resonated so strongly with me.

From that point on, my interest in trying these hallucinogenic plants for myself began to grow and I realised that many people expose themselves to these altered states on a regular basis. I wondered if I was missing out on perhaps an essential experience of what it means to be human and further exploring my psyche. What could psychedelics teach me about who I am or who I could be? What unknown parts of myself and our cosmos could they grant me access to? What healing might be available for my mind, body and spirit?

So, I recruited the support of Peter, my partner at the time and now husband, and we set out on a quest to have a therapeutic experience with psilocybin mushrooms. Having lost his father to suicide in his early teens, Peter was also interested in dealing with past traumas in a way he’d never thought available to him.

However, being able to do this in a safe and legal setting proved difficult. This was important to us. After first trying, and failing, to get into multiple trials happening globally at the time, we were eventually referred to a private therapist in the Netherlands, where the use of psychoactive truffles is legal. Our search over, we flew overseas, met him, and ingested a large dose of psilohuasca — a combination of psilocin-containing fungi and Syrian Rue, a MAO inhibitor used to enhance and prolong the effects of a trip.

Inner Journeying 

Describing what it was like for me to take one of these substances is difficult. My first time was so far removed from anything I’d encountered before.

Heading into this, I was incredibly nervous. Having never lost control before, combined with everything I’d heard about psychedelics and drug use in general, I thought that the medicine was going to obliterate or destroy my brain. That turned out to be as far as possible from reality.

What happened for Peter and me was one of the most meaningful experiences of both our lives. The medicine completely shot us into space. What initially overwhelmed me was this incredible sense that everything is in me and I’m in everything…we are ONE. These realizations were profound for me, but it’s the deeper insights Peter and I gained that have left a lasting impression. What we learned from this one session was so profound and powerful, we didn’t feel compelled to have another for a whole year.

Far more important than the psychedelic encounter itself is the integration of the experience. That takes time.

This work continues to touch multiple areas of my life. For example, being born Jewish as the daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, the majority of our relatives were murdered. I’ve lived with transgenerational trauma for as long as I can remember. Whether I wanted to or not, I’ve confronted a lot of this during my medicine trips and undergone significant healing as a result.

My creativity has also increased massively. I’m able to access more moments of flow and purity in my singing, public speaking, curation of immersive events and writing. I’ve also noticed real lifts in my energy and consciousness. I feel more intelligent. Overall, it feels as if a number of neural pathways have reconnected for me and a whole lot of new ones have been formed. It’s as if all these missing parts of myself have been found.

Creating a Movement, Making a Real Difference

Fast forward three years, Peter and I now seek out a session every four to six months. We call it our regular reset/reboot experience. It’s a bit like defragging the hard drive! Every single time we work with these medicines, the experience is different. We get new insights, clean up physical and mental baggage and heal a little more.

Not only have we woven psychedelic use into our lives, but the immense value we’ve gained from taking these medicines  is what inspired Peter and me to establish our fifth charity, Mind Medicine Australia, in early 2019. If this medicine has had such positive and healing benefits for us, we thought it could help the millions of people suffering with mental illness.

Mental Health in Australia

Mind Medicine Australia exists to help alleviate the suffering caused by mental illness in Australia through expanding the treatment options available to medical practitioners and their patients.

We seek to reduce Australia’s terrible mental health statistics, which are worsening as a result of the current and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Of particular concern are the high levels of mental illness, addiction and suicide amongst the veteran, first responder and other marginalised population groups.

Pre-COVID, 1 in 5 Australians were experiencing a mental illness and existing treatments are failing for the majority of patients. Pre-COVID, 1 in 8 Australians were estimated to be on antidepressants (including 1 in 4 older adults and children as young as five) and their use across Australia has risen by a massive 95% over the past 15 years. Yet our mental health statistics continue to worsen, resulting in one of the highest rates of mental illness in the world.

Numerous mental health experts in Australia recently announced that the COVID-19 crisis could lead to a 25% jump in the suicide rate if unemployment reaches 11%, which is highly likely. It also goes without saying that mental illness in the community is at an all-time high. The incidence of trauma, anxiety, depression and substance abuse are all accelerating as this pandemic and the fall-out from it continues.

These statistics cannot do justice to the heartache, suffering and community damage that mental illness is currently having on our society.

Depression treatment methods haven’t substantially changed for decades. Reversion rates are high following antidepressant medication, and side effects and withdrawal symptoms are significant.

Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies

MDMA and psilocybin-assisted therapies have been found to be low in toxicity. They have not been shown to produce organ damage or neuropsychological side effects that are risks with some psychiatric medications. Furthermore, they are not typically considered drugs of dependence.

Research on the effectiveness of e therapies is being conducted at prestigious universities, including Johns Hopkins, Yale, UCLA, Harvard, Cambridge and Imperial College, London.

The FDA has granted a “breakthrough therapy designation” for psilocybin-assisted therapy for depression and MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD, a designation that will help speed clinical trials of these two psychedelics. In the United States, MDMA is in Phase 3 trials as a treatment for PTSD.

In addition to the current late-phase FDA trials, there are also trials underway of psychedelic therapies for the treatment of end-of-life depression and anxiety, alcohol and drug addiction, dementia, anorexia and other eating disorders, cluster headaches and chronic pain. A summary of psychedelic medical research can be found here.

Access to these therapies is now legally available in a number of countries via Expanded or Special Access Schemes in USA, Switzerland and Israel. A number of Australian psychiatrists have also recently received approvals through our Special Access Scheme for use of MDMA and psilocybin-assisted therapy for treatment-resistant patients.

Theories of Why Psychedelics May Work

A number of theories have been put forward to account for the possible therapeutic effects of psychedelics. One thought is that classical psychedelics may help with issues like depressive, addictive and obsessive disorders by allowing the mind to “break out” of repetitive and rigid styles of thinking, feeling and behaving. Psychedelics temporarily alter activity and increase connectivity between novel neural networks within the brain, breaking patients out of pathological patterns of thought and habit. This helps to develop a form of “active coping” and creates a fertile ground for change, restoring patient agency.

Psilocybin primarily activates the 5HT2a receptor in the brain. Recent research suggests that this receptor aids adaptivity through enhancing sensitivity to context, learning and unlearning, cognitive flexibility and synaptogenesis (new neuronal connections).

In a therapeutic setting, psychedelics may produce profound personal or existential insights, feelings of empathy and self-compassion, and a sense of connection or unity with other people, things and the world in general. Research shows that these characteristics are correlated to therapeutic outcomes and that patients regard these experiences among the most meaningful of their lives.

Mind Medicine Australia

Our goal at MMA is to ensure that these therapies become an integral part of our mental health system, that they are accessible and affordable to all Australians in need and that they achieve high remission rates leading to a substantial improvement in our mental health statistics.

To achieve this, we need practitioners who are trained to provide psychedelic-assisted therapies in medically controlled environments. Aspiring professionals need to learn the different therapy modalities that will inform their work with “non-ordinary states of consciousness.” They also need to be very capable of “holding space” for a period of hours, which is unlike the normal one to two-hour sessions usually delivered.

Another important area to be well versed in professionally before working with psychedelics is trauma. It’s critical to be experienced in somatic practices, as well as understanding and being comfortable with transference and projection. This level of comfort comes from both training in the subject matter and doing your own inner work. Processing one’s own non-ordinary states of consciousness can help others do the same.

Our Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies course is being developed by Renee Harvey (a senior Clinical Psychologist from the UK who was part of the Imperial College Therapist Team for these modalities). This is the first professional development program in the Southern Hemisphere, compares favourably with existing ones in the United States and the United Kingdom, and is being designed in collaboration with the world’s leading programs.

We also hope to provide an opportunity for clinicians to receive their own MDMA-assisted therapy session and participate in transpersonal breathwork to assist in altering consciousness.

We are also working to ensure that therapeutic treatment for patients takes place in medically supervised environments, without losing the essence of the transcendental which underpin their healing potential.

Mind Medicine Australia is in the process of establishing an Asia-Pacific Centre for Emerging Mental Health Therapies. Its main mission is to expand the mental illness treatment paradigm in Australia and boldly position Australia as a global leader in mental health innovation, with partnerships encompassing University, philanthropic, private industry and government sectors.

MMA is also partly-funding the nation’s first psychedelic clinical trial. Currently underway at Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital, the study is looking at the potential of psilocybin to treat end-of-life depression and anxiety.

Other key aspects of our strategy involve educational events, webinars and awareness building, funding for relevant and novel clinical trials, the development of an appropriate legal and ethical structure for discussion with regulators, rescheduling applications for psilocybin and MDMA, the development of reliable sources of pharmaceutical grade psilocybin and MDMA in Australia and maintenance and expansion of international information flows and rollout strategies so that all Australians who need these therapies can access them through the medical system. We are also planning a major international summit for 2021.

We’ve recruited a Board and Advisory Panel that includes leaders in researching these therapies, such as Roland Griffiths from Johns Hopkins University, Professor David Nutt, Head of Neuropsychopharmacology and Robin Carhart-Harris from Imperial College London, and Rick Doblin from MAPS.

Mental illness keeps a person separate and alone. Rigid thought structures, feelings of despair and the belief that things aren’t going to work out for them… that feeling of not being loved and whole. These are the kinds of struggles people everywhere are dealing with. I know, because every day we get emails and letters and calls from those who’ve tried every other type of medication and therapy and are at the end of the road. It breaks my heart how much suffering and loneliness there is.

At Mind Medicine Australia, we’ll continue to work to establish safe and effective psychedelic-assisted treatments, with the ultimate hope we can alleviate the unnecessary suffering that millions of Australians face every day.

Please visit www.mindmedicineaustralia.org and get involved. Please watch this 2 minute animation to find out why psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy needs to be available to those who are suffering.

***

Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

29 COMMENTS

  1. Forgive my skepticism when someone claims a drug or treatment is good for a very wide variety of things. Ms. Dejong hopes psychedelic therapies can be used for the treatment of end-of-life depression and anxiety, alcohol and drug addiction, dementia, anorexia and other eating disorders, cluster headaches and chronic pain. Really? In decades past didn’t the promoters of snake oil make such claims?

    I’m also perplexed as to why MIA has featured what seems to be an advertisement for the author’s business interests (and yes charities are a business). It would be interesting to look at psychedelics, the good and the bad. This article doesn’t do that possible subject justice.

    • Marie said… “I’m also perplexed as to why MIA has featured what seems to be an advertisement for the author’s business interests…”

      This slick marketing piece is part of a wider campaign by the psych/pharma industry to drum up consumer demand for psychedelics as they are rolled out for approval. I’ve been watching this development unfold for a while, and I’m sadly not surprised that Mad in America has fallen for publishing Tania DeJong’s brazen commercial for her business as one of their blogs.

      It didn’t take much digging on the “Mind Medicine Australia” website to find this…

      Investors pile in on psychedelic drugs
      psychedelic drugs are making a comeback as a legitimate treatment for patients with mental illness – and investors are taking notice.

      Established by retired investment banker Peter Hunt and his partner, Tania de Jong, a social entrepreneur, it aims to develop regulatory-approved and research-backed psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for mental illness so that it is available through the medical system.
      https://mindmedicineaustralia.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Investors-pile-in-on-psychedelic-drugs.pdf

      So, Mad in America removed Phil Hickey’s blog “Is Psychiatry Dangerous?” because it didn’t comply with their standards, and yet their standards allowed this one through. All is lost.

      • And this

        “Ms de Jong said Australians were “being brain washed”. “The so-called ‘cures’ – curfews, lockdowns and border closures – are destroying us as individuals and our country as a whole,” she said.”

        “The women said the media had been “one-sided”. “We are relentlessly subjected to fearmongering spin and those who dare to voice an opinion questioning the existing narrative are considered pariahs,” Ms de Jong said.”

        https://www.sott.net/article/440270-Reckless-fearmongering-spin-Australias-female-entrepreneurs-slam-tyrannical-lockdown-measures

        Brain washed pariahs? Sounds like something from a fishing boat off the Galapagos lol

        Hey Skipper, what’s the legal length for a Brain Washed Pariah?

      • I appreciate these comments/criticisms regarding this post.

        First, re Phil Hickey’s blog. We didn’t remove his blog because of its general content. We temporarily removed it because we had put up an image that we felt violated our own standards, and because there was a section of content in it that we also felt violated one of our standards re personal criticisms. We asked Phil if we could then republish with a new image and that one part omitted, and he declined, and so we then forwarded readers to his own blog. We regularly publish Phil’s writings, and any error was on our part prior to its initial posting here.

        I think the criticisms regarding our publication of this post on Mind Medicine Australia are worth airing and considering. You’ll notice they weren’t moderated, which is evidence of how we think MIA should be open to criticism. After some discussion, and actually a fair amount of editing, I decided we should publish it for the following reasons: it was registered as a charity, there is ongoing research into these medicines (which would seem to make it a worthwhile subject), Mind Medicine is sponsoring research), and it does have an advisory board that includes medical people. We have also received complaints in the past from readers that we have been “hostile” to psychedelic therapies. Thus, we saw this post of some interest within our standard of allowing for posts of disparate perspectives.

        That said, criticism of the commercial interests are worth noting, and I appreciate this feedback.

        • First off, everything that is not in favor of a “mental illness” paradigm and it’s practitioners, and it’s practices, is seen as either hostile or lacking in insight. If we engage them forever while they practice and distort, it is referred to as dialogue.
          And to let you in on a little secret, they are right about “insight” or lack of it, since anyone’s perception can be skewed, but then this is a human condition, so no one is excluded.

          This “charity” article I am not offended by, nor threatened by. I actually had no idea how to respond to it, because all I could think of was that it read like a mother speaking of and about her daughters many accomplishments.

          So on the article itself, I felt as if I was visiting her mom, or that I was the buyer of a product, the product not having anything to do actually with any kind of health, nor “mental illness” even though it was mentioned.
          I found it rather substance lacking, flat in tone, and I felt a twinge of regret or embarrassment if I were the writer, reading it again later.
          Just telling it how it felt. As if I was somehow supposed to be moved by something, rather tedious.

          I was happy to be able to access Phil’s article so thanks. I think most of us are aware that you have a website to run and personally I don’t have issue with MIA. Sure I’m not pleased it got removed, but I’m not you, I wasn’t there, and I’m not running a website. I appreciate your honesty and how you do your best to stick to tackling the thing most pressing. I never underestimate the work involved.

        • Hello bob,

          I’m not sure if this is the right place to do it, but I would like to publicly suggest you to implement a preprint section on a dedicated MIA-related wiki, and develop the open review.

          The preprint and the open review on wiki offers many advantages:

          Protect from any accusations of censorship, because even when a paper is not accepted, it is available on the preprint wiki and the reasons for its rejection are available on the talk page.

          Discussions about improving the article are public.

          The different versions of the article are accessible via the history of changes.

          Wiki technology facilitates an open collaboration between authors, reviewers and editors. The greater the openness, the greater the trust.

          There is a free, ad-free wiki platform for associations and foundations ourproject.org. They will welcome MIA with open arms.

  2. “Neuroscience shows that singing fires up the right temporal lobe of our brain, releasing endorphins and makes us happier, healthier, smarter and more creative.”

    I guess that’s why my child abuse covering up psychologist recommended I turn off music that I like to sing along with? Good thing I ignored that bad psychological advice.

    “Group singing can produce satisfying and therapeutic sensations even when the sound produced by the vocal instrument is not of high quality. Everyone singing in a group is lifted up, no matter their singing ability.”

    Is this why the doctors and government leaders want singing in the churches to be made illegal?

    “What initially overwhelmed me was this incredible sense that everything is in me and I’m in everything…we are ONE.” My psychiatric drug withdrawal induced “super sensitivity manic psychosis” taught me the same thing. It really was a mind blowing experience.

    But a psychiatrist thought that it was a bad thing, and claimed she had proof that I had “millions of voices.” She was so angry with me when I disagreed with her uninformed description of my experience (she was one of those $30,000 handshake kind of psychiatrists), that other doctors had to hold her back, to prevent her from hitting me.

    Thankfully, I got away from that very persistent and criminal, God denying psychiatrist. (Her partner in crime is now in jail.)

    “psychedelics may produce profound personal or existential insights, feelings of empathy and self-compassion, and a sense of connection or unity with other people, things and the world in general.” That is also a good description of my staggeringly serendipitous, drug withdrawal induced “super sensitivity manic psychosis” / awakening to the story of my subconscious and dreams.

    The only problem really is that a drug withdrawal induced “super sensitivity manic psychosis” lasts for months, at least in my case. And since it is such a mind blowing, albeit quite cool, experience. I’m quite certain that using mushrooms, in a safe setting, is a much wiser way of creating such experiences, than what the psychiatrists are currently doing.

    Good luck with your endeavors, since alternatives to the current, violent, iatrogenic illness creating, psychiatric paradigm are definitely needed.

    • Well SE,
      I think it’s important to see that she is not asking for removal of the other poisons that psychiatry
      uses, She is not saying a word against psychiatry or “mental illness”, none of their abuses.
      And she says “research suggests”.
      And I’m scratching my head wondering what psych will put me on magic shrooms once every 6 months for that experience. 🙂

  3. Some thoughts – I was once enthusiastic about these tools and I still see they could have a place but not if we do nothing to change the causes of our suffering that lie mostly in myriad cultural disorders.

    I am also concerned by the inevitable over promotion and advertising and grand claims (in fact the entire piece strikes me as advertising) for something that only has ‘Theories of Why Psychedelics May Work’ sounds familiar right? ‘anti depressant’ etc theories of action and here we are with massive and sustained over prescribing and more harms being discovered daily. Releasing these things into the greed filled profit wilds of out current system seems dangerous and seems to further add to the ‘mental illness’ internalising of distress narrative.

    ‘Mental illness keeps a person separate and alone’

    suffering doesn’t land on our heads from the abyss – it comes to us in myriad ways and for myriad reasons – cultural disorders abound, most jobs, debt, the media, economy, political systems, class, junk values and much more shape us all in multiple ways – quite often bending people out of shape and distorting us leading to suffering. We have an epidemic of loneliness not because of mental illness but because of the way our living systems are constructed – we have cultural disorders in need of treatment.

    ‘We are also working to ensure that therapeutic treatment for patients takes place in medically supervised environments, without losing the essence of the transcendental which underpin their healing potential’

    I bet you are – roll up roll up and get your latest professional sounding waffle and you only need a maintenance dose every 6 months for the rest of your life – Is Huxley’s Soma coming closer into view?

    How about we provide medical supervision but roll this out to ordinary people in local communities – medicine men and women don’t tend to wear white coats and make millions out of assisting their fellow travellers its a need deep within many often suffocated in the cult of the individual and the professionalising of care.

    ‘In a therapeutic setting, psychedelics may produce profound personal or existential insights, feelings of empathy and self-compassion, and a sense of connection or unity with other people, things and the world in general. Research shows that these characteristics are correlated to therapeutic outcomes and that patients regard these experiences among the most meaningful of their lives’.

    Ever been to a rave? festival? sat in the grass with a small group of trusted others? Therapeutic setting? Yes of course these tools can produce these profound experiences and it can certainly be amazing and Changes you – BUT when the dust settles and the shine diminishes we see the insights illuminate a world/system cultural disorders lacking in empathy, compassion and full of disconnection and disunity – whoosh what a come down hey – no no just come for your maintenance dose and forget about changing the world, its just your silly negative perceptions, always remember there is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so – you are really swimming in waves of bliss not about to start that soul destroying body breaking, relationship crushing nightshift so you can continue to live like a sophisticated rat in a slightly bigger cage.

    ‘Another important area to be well versed in professionally before working with psychedelics is trauma. It’s critical to be experienced in somatic practices, as well as understanding and being comfortable with transference and projection. This level of comfort comes from both training in the subject matter and doing your own inner work. Processing one’s own non-ordinary states of consciousness can help others do the same’.

    If you are a human Being living in the actual world then this means you are already likely well versed in trauma – no training or special certificates needed, just a life lived – perhaps some guidance for sitting and being with distress could be useful for those drawn to their inner healer and to be in service to others – but please lets not professionalise and profiteer ordinary human care and compassion – yes do your own inner work – go experience a psychedelic experience of your own. In the UK before lockdown the UK Psychedelic society was doing guided group truffle sessions in the Netherlands. I am sure there are many more examples.

    ‘To achieve this, we need practitioners who are trained to provide psychedelic-assisted therapies in medically controlled environments. Aspiring professionals need to learn the different therapy modalities that will inform their work with “non-ordinary states of consciousness.” They also need to be very capable of “holding space” for a period of hours, which is unlike the normal one to two-hour sessions usually deliverer’.

    Again do we need more professionalising and profiteering of human care and compassion and the medicalising of non ordinary states? many millions of human beings have experienced non ordinary states since time began and are doing so daily.

    I hear people sometimes say things like, think of all the changed people newly inspired to face and change the world after these sessions – perhaps this will happen for a minority but like the rest of the therapy industry, it will be used to keep people keeping on with what is – consider in the UK recent school guidance forbids teachers from even discussing anti capitalist ideas in class, welcome to the machine, just a micro dose a day keeps those changing the system thoughts away.

    • I must say, I agree with you. I think, that the “professionalizing” of prescribing of mind altering drugs should never have been given to the psychiatrists and psychologists. Since their misinformed perspectives have resulted in their betrayal of all their clients.

      And the “war on drugs” has been a failure from the beginning. So a continuation of such crimes, by “professionalizing” the prescribing of the other known “mind altering” drugs, in the hands of the already known to be unethical “mental health” industry,” is a bad idea.

    • We need to inform the author and mostly the public that there are indeed Mushroom therapies available. This author seems to think that she was allowed to consume the Shrooms WITHOUT “medical supervising”, yet thinks the underachievers are childish enough to need a “doctor”.

      So she should know that if people want to try shrooms, they certainly do NOT need an uninformed, very ignorant “doctor”. “doctors” who regularly give people horrible chemicals. Those who want, can access a lot of people with REAL experience in using these trips.

      I hope she won’t spout that if shrooms are grown in a Pharm lab that they are safer. That would suggest that what is made by pharm is good for you. And it also suggests that the “handler” is safe.

      People can get their hands on shrooms anytime they want, so why this advert for psychiatry? There is nothing compassionate or kind about this selfishly driven propaganda. This is not an honest respectable way to present to people who are constantly harmed by the system she adverts.

    • That is quite the mission statement. Where to begin?

      Could anybody provide me with the name of the private therapist in the Netherlands mentioned? I have started the laborious task of formulating a critical response to this article/mission statement.

      I have only got as far as getting to know the background of the author of the blog and of all the people mentioned in it, and noting down any paragraphs that contain web-links, names or words written in italic.

      My findings after only two hours of working on this in my spare time has led me to some very non-scientific, unethical avenues.

      I intend to write a long article. I fear that going down this particular rabbit hole might lead me to writing a book about the Brave New-Age World which I fear we are sleepwalking into in the name of profit and big businesses disguised as non-profit charitable orginisations.

      It will probably take me until after Christmas to complete the research necessary to write a half decent essay of 5000 words or less. The reason it will take so long is that I work full time at night in a supermarket and have little spare time on my hands during these dark days.

      I think the working title will be ‘Magic Mushrooms? Thank you, I’ll pass’

      There are stronger words that I could have used in the working title. But I do not wish to risk getting on the wrong side of the moderators.

      Have a happy Christmas.

      I look forward to giving a poor MIA editor nightmares with my submission in early 2021.

      Cheery-bye.

      FB

  4. John Allen President of Psych in New Zealand:

    He said he would be concerned the move would add to the underground market for MDMA and psilocybin therapies as people might see it as a ‘grand cure’.

    ‘Psychedelics have been around for some time. There’s only more recently some promising research evidence, but it’s too early to say they should be listed for general use,’ he said

    ‘It’s just not proven yet, there just haven’t been enough studies … The streets of medicine, and psychiatry in particular, are littered with great ideas that went wrong.’

    It’s interesting that John Allen said “Psychiatry in particular are littered with ideas gone wrong”

    I did notice the website I dug it from has the word “wealth” in it.
    “sound and wealth”

    https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/health-news/huge-push-to-make-mdma-legal-to-treat-patients-with-mental-health-disorders/

    I might ask the author why that article is not in a website that says “sound and health”

  5. Forgive me for my skepticism but this therapy seems better targeted at those people with pathological problems such as excessive greed, cruelty, power hunger, etc. The people who are running the Western nations are wrecking the planet out of recklessness, arrogance and low quality consciousness. Consumers in the West who over-consume, whether it be in the form of food, automobiles, over-large houses, psychiatric medications, etc also suffer from low consciousness but many of these people do not identify with having a mental healthy behavior, as their anti-social and destructive behavior is considered ‘normal’

    It would be better to direct your ‘therapy’ at non diagnosed individuals in my opinion.

  6. Interesting comments. I thank the author and MiA for publishing although I don’t completely understand the publishing/republishing issue. (lack of informing myself).

    I want to say a few things. I speak for a slice of the pie, perhaps having fingers in multiple slices. If it is not your slice, then I accept that, & I am almost always open to listening, dialogue, & reflection.

    I take legally prescribed, relatively small doses of generic ketamine (liquid), virtually the only legal psychedelic in the U.S. right now. It has assisted me in my complex lifestyle of techniques for health and wellness. I was brutally suicidal for too long, & even before that, surprised I didn’t die or self-murder years before. Concurrently, I found a therapist I love to death. Both methods are on top of many others…clinical nutrition, moderate traditional pharmaceuticals, family-interaction dynamics, long-term integration of the unconscious, art, & so forth.

    This particular niche, psychedelic therapy, is incredibly complex. I’ve always been interested in psychedelics (first LSD trip in middle school—be kind!), but when I got sucked in to conventional psychiatry, my legitimate interests of research and experience were pathologized, disregarded, and made like childish ignorance. In my opinion, that is still commonly the norm throughout the U.S. mainstream medical system—& in much of the general public. I advocate for psychedelic research—medical, spiritual, creative—& always have. As some have noted, it is being wrapped into traditional formats: big pharma, treatment/‘treatment’, advertising, hype, etc. There are positives, negatives, & amalgamations of both. What I will say here is this: I am thankful everyday for my bold and experimental prescriber & my use of ketamine. I am thankful it is not expensive, time-consuming, and under what I call ‘clinical over-control’ like the nasal spray, IV, & even the lozenge & intramuscular. My experiences are not full-blown trips, which I support for some people under some circumstances, & hope to have before I die. One thing it has done is stimulated my thinking function & voice, more like the gift—though eccentric—that I used to have. I no longer pray into the darkness alone, for example, for The God of the Universe to kill me. I hope the out-right critics can agree with me that this is a good thing. & make no mistake, I’ve been at this game for…well…ever.

    Having said that, I hope people realize that this type of approach, milder rather than full-blown, can be gotten at without waiting for MDMA or psilocybin approval, medical or recreational, to be used legally and with some degree of safety & oversight. The more major psychedelic experiences are going on too, in clinics or by experimental psychiatrists. Some cities in America are decriminalizing psychedelics, and there are movements for using legal cannabis for medical, spiritual, creative, & recreational purposes. I’m glad I don’t have to go to Colorado (I live in Alabama—one of the most Red states), nor go to The Netherlands, nor wait for MDMA approval, with its specialist clinics, minimal prescribers, & limited diagnostic uses, so on & so forth. It’s all very tricky, isn’t it?

    I’ve tried to briefly tease some of this out without idealizing or denouncing the whole pie. I’ve stated already, I speak for a certain slice, even if it’s only my own; but more likely, I have my fingers dipped into multiple slices. I feel free to go on a sugar fast at any time.

    Thank you for your attention.

    • evanhaar, I love your pie. I wish I would have come across some saneberry pie myself, long ago.
      But as you point out, we really don’t need psychiatry and pharma to get their grubby hands in the pie.
      I’m thinking you got lucky in finding someone you love and the combination of everything, especially caring and trust is the place one finds themselves in.
      Not just our ability to trust ourselves, but for others to trust that there is nothing to fix is huge for a good foundation. If one is treated as broken, one will not EVER benefit by it.

      Psychiatry is built almost identical to a T on the “original sin” principle. Psychiatry almost gets me to consider a vengeful god. Their latest chatter about “genetics” is exactly the “original sin” concept.
      So either we had great scientific minds thousands of years ago, (of course in some circles lol) or we have a huge lie. Now of course, “treatments” nor the views of the “fallen from grace” have changed.

      So I am super glad to hear that you happened upon the people that work for you. Perhaps your style of communication allowed it to happen, since we deal with highly egotistical angels of mercy, that butt up against our egos. It took me long to learn that I was blind and that being blind, I could not see the other guys blindness.

      So yes, I’m fine with someone suggesting running, fresh air, singing, shrooms, shamans, but not for “mental health”. Nor for “mental wealth”

      • Thank you for responding, sam. I consider a vengeful god quite a bit, & how it insinuates itself through people & into society; & how mercy, in a common sense, always has the guilt-tripping & threat of punishment behind it. I must admit, I have to check my dark side quite a bit.

        I find your last comment “but not for ‘mental health’. Nor for ‘mental wealth’ ” interesting. I’m not sure I want to throw out the term ‘mental health’ completely, but I think I see what you mean.

        lol, if you want or need any extra, I will be sure to send you some saneberry pie next time I find some…or make some.

  7. It’s the hubris that grates me here.

    Not once in this piece did Tania mention any of the many organisations that have existed for decades fighting these battles. Not one mention of PRISM (Psychedelic Research In Science and Medicine), established in the early 2010s and far more integral to the St. Vincent’s work than this recent glitzy iteration of psychedelic organisation. Not one mention of the grassroots movement that has grown the conversation and seeded a strong culture in Australia that we are proud of.

    It does make me wonder what value Tania sees in the community to ignore it so thoroughly. Ignorance is not an excuse here, because Mind Medicine Australia have connections with all the organisations mentioned.

    I’m one of the founders of the Australian Psychedelic Society. Unlike Mind Medicine Aus, we are not seeking to create a medical platform for psychedelics though we would like to support those who do. Much like the mushroom and its mycelia, our aims and values are around community building, connecting people to people below the surface of fancy branding and course-building – a much more organic process that is difficult while prohibition exists. I still (perhaps naively?) believe that everyone should be working together toward a series of goals to ensure that psychedelics have a valid future in society and that people are no longer punished for seeking the psychedelic.

    But every time I hear about Tania and hear about a lot of Mind Medicine’s work, I get a sense of looming anxiety. From the ‘we need to put ankle braces’ and random inappropriate singing on national television, to the apparent inappropriate singing at EVERY event MMA puts on (we get it Tania, you like to sing. Me too. Perhaps, time and place though?). And then the constant big-noting of MMA and complete blanking of the vibrant psychedelic community we have in Australia.

    Early on I had to push back against MMA’s line that they ‘do not support law change’ for psychedelics – which you obviously do seek (the shifting of a scheduled substance still at least requires a Government Gazette, so yes, in the broadest sense, that is law change) it bothered me that here are these people with a LOT of resources available to them, signalling to the broad psychedelic community that they don’t matter, as long as MMA can get into the ‘right’ ears and make an argument for what will likely be a fairly exclusive system of psychedelic psychotherapy.

    It’s also a good place to note that often when law changes do take place to allow for therapy using a previously illicit drug, penalties rise for those in the ‘illicit markets’, because conservative rationale goes, “Well, now the people who actually need it can access it and these other people must be dangerous”. I’ve already seen mumblings from white-coats about ‘bad trips’ being dangerous and therefore providing the beginning of a narrative that casts the community as ‘dangerous’ for using powerful substances in the ‘wrong’ way.

    My goal has always been to end the prohibition – not just of psychedelics – but all drugs. The drug war has caused so much pain across the globe. The escalation recently in places like the Philippines, with the terrifying stories of Duterte’s death squads with their shadowy murders should be warning signs to anyone who believes in a safe, prosperous and free future for humanity.

    Here in Victoria (where Mind Medicine are based), the numbers of people whose lives are harmed not by taking a psychedelic, but by the archaic laws we maintain around them are small, but not insignficiant. I have been to several court cases and seen the farcical representation of psychedelics in those apparent halls of justice for those charged with posessing substances like DMT, or psilocybe mushrooms, or LSD.

    None of us are people with massive resources behind us, and there is a strong incentive for people not to put their heads up, for fear of professional or social repercussions. Many stories that go untold, though I try to find what I can and broadcast them on a community radio station in Melbourne (3cr.org.au/enpsychedelia)

    I say all this because I have seen a pattern over the years of the rich and powerful steamrolling communities and slipping away from accountability by pointing to all the work they are doing – work that others without the same resources (money) could not even begin to do. I don’t think this has to be the way things happen, but it does require that those who have resources reground themselves in a little humility and start engaging more with community, perhaps first and foremost by acknowledging them, instead of the constant opportunistic media engagement for little more than self-promotion.

    Perhaps I’ll be told, “This is how the game is played”. It’s what I’ve been told before. And if that’s the answer, I guess we’re not playing the same game. But if that’s the case, I don’t think that one can so glitzingly state that their battle is for others’ ‘mental health’. The harms of prohibition should not be ignored.

    I think we should have a conversation about this Tania, because you’re upsetting a lot of people. I don’t know if that matters to you, because the money and resources you guys have will allow you to reach audiences previously unreachable with your tailor-made message of hope for an issue many have battled for, for decades. I hope it does, because I truly believe that the psychedelic experience has more to offer than the few who will benefit from the medical and psychotherapeutic elements.

  8. Although, there were some interesting points in this article, I am skeptical of anything that can be construed as a “drug” and “psilocybin” I believe is a “drug” although, it comes from “mushrooms.” The other point is “psilocybin” causes psychedelic experiences. Although, I am not a “scientist”, this just seem good for the brain. Although, there may be some people who might be able to handle this better than others. But, then, I am very concerned about making marijuana legal for recreational and even some medical purposes. “Psychedelic” drugs, like the “psycho-active” drugs just seem like another bad deal that could cause both short and long term harm. Personally, I prefer my mushrooms, fresh, fried gently in butter, on top of a juicy steak or hamburger. Thank you.

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