Episode 5 : Michael Pollan - Authour/Journalist
“It was pure energy…”
In this Episode I spoke to Michael Pollan, New York Times best selling Author, Ivy League Professor and Author of the excellent psychedelic science primer, ‘How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence’ Michael is a self described ‘immersive journalist’ and therefore his field notes and perspective as a reluctant, middle aged psychonaut have proven an invaluable aid to those of us who understand that discussions about psychedelics must take place in every corner of society. Michael seems to understand that a civic discourse must include a truly cross sectional representation of society, and the more nuanced and long standing such a conversation is the more chance we have of optimally rolling out the power of these substances to everyone who wishes to avail. The better informed the gallery is, the less politicians will be able to play to it.
In this episode we discuss:
His first article into psychedelics, ‘The Trip Treament’ published in the New Yorker
His subsequent book How to Change your Mind
The troubling cases of deaths at ayahuasca retreats
The side effects of current pharmacological mainstays of Psychiatric treatment
The unhelpful web of myths and lies around psychedelics
We poke a wee bit of fun at psychiatrists but remember their likely importance in the widespread delivery of these substances to the public - Stephen Ross being an important figure at NYU
Rigour in scientific research
Rules around prescription of psychiatric medicine
Jeffrey Lieberman - Professor of psychiatry at Columbia University
Different ‘containers’ - cultural, medical and spiritual, and drug approval
Grandfathering for underground therapists
Michael’s experience with 5-MeO-DMT. (also click here for Michael’s hilarious discussion with Aubrey Marcus on a similar mind bending topic)
The DMT experience
The concept of ‘inverse trauma’
Jordan Peterson’s framing of PTSD as an encounter with malevolence
It sounds in the podcast like I ‘call out’ Jordan Peterson. This was not really my intention. I misspeak by using the phrase ‘abdication of responsibility’ - I have left section this section unabridged. What I meant to allude to is the fact that Dr Peterson had a prolific career as a publishing scientist prior to being thrust into public intellectual life, and one of his fields of research has been the psychology of personality (click here for a list of his relevant academic publications ) , and it is overlapping with preliminary and incomplete findings from the psychedelic literature. I therefore would like to hear him and many other experts in the field review and discuss such findings in a more technical way. I also inferred that Dr Peterson had been somewhat ‘quiet’ on the topic of psychedelics, but here is a list of youtube videos where he discusses them. I would however maintain my more generic message that I want all the findings in the psychedelic literature to be subject to the intellectual scrutiny of the broadest range of incisive minds available, and I would like to see Dr Peterson enter the fray in a more tangible way.
Rebecca Mercer’s donation to MAPS
Our shared desire to see the trials continue to fly under the mainstream political radar and to forestall a premature political debate, and my concerns about the co-opting of the science by ‘pushers’ of identity politics
Michael’s interest in the Default Mode Network
Somebody please make a movie about Al Hubbard
Michael’s desire to see the successful completion of the phase 3 trials
Request for your support on Patreon
Next weeks guest Dr Jessica Zitter
Oakland’s recent decriminalisation of psilocybin
Michael Pollan is author of the now seminal book ‘How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence’
Michael is the author of seven previous books, including Cooked, Food Rules, In Defense of Food, The Omnivore’s Dilemma and The Botany of Desire, all of which were New York Times Bestsellers.
Pollan teaches writing in the English department at Harvard and at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he has been the John S. and James, L. Knight Professor of Journalism since 2003. Several of his books have been adapted for television: a series based on Cooked (2015) is streaming on Netflix and both The Botany of Desire and In Defense of Food premiered on PBS. In 2010 Time Magazine named Michael one of the 100 most influential people in the world.