Psychedelics: Past, present and future | Mark Haden | TEDxEastVan

Psychedelics: Past, present and future | Mark Haden | TEDxEastVan

Translator: Hiroko Kawano
Reviewer: Rhonda Jacobs I have been standing in front of audiences for 30 years talking about drugs. And I often start my
presentations with an apology. Specifically, I apologise for the lies
of past drug educators, including myself. And I acknowledge we’ve told three lies. We’ve exaggerated the harms of drugs, we’ve never acknowledged
the benefits of drugs, and we’ve never talked about the dominant model
for controlling drugs in our society, which is drug prohibition, which has failed us all so badly. (Applause) (Cheering) Now, for much of my career,
I’ve talked about that last point, the failure of the war on drugs, but today I’m going to talk
about the benefits of drugs. Specifically, I’m going
to talk about psychedelics. Now, psychedelics have been
around in human culture since before recorded human history. And we can see at least four
communities, cultures today, that have woven the psychedelic experience
into the fabric of their culture: there’s the curandero’s use
of psilocybin mushrooms, there’s the ayahuasca use
in the Amazon basin, there’s the Huichol use of peyote, and the shamanic use
of Amanita muscaria in Siberia. Now, on the surface, how the container of safety is created
with these cultures with this psychedelic
experience is all different. But if you look at how the experience
is integrated into the culture, that is actually quite similar. They’re used for healing, everything from psychological
to physical issues. They’re used for
a celebration of transitions everything from seasonal changes
to puberty rites. And they’re used for spirituality to connect the individuals and the culture
to the cosmos as a whole. If I wanted to use one word
to describe that, what I would say is
the word would be ‘pro-social’. Psychedelics have
always been used to connect people to their culture
and to the universe. So it was historically unprecedented
what happened in the 1960s when psychedelics got linked
to an antisocial message. It had never happened before. Tim Leary said, ‘tune in,
turn on, and drop out’, and the subsequent social backlash
has caused immense human suffering, and it goes on today. And admittedly, there were some other
cultural issues going on at the time, but certainly, that disconnect
message was profound. And the media participated
in the spinning of the web of illusions: ‘LSD-Fed Ape Rapes TV Actress’; (Laughter) ‘LSD Made Me a Prostitute’; ‘Girl Gives Birth to Frog’. (Laughter) Even the science of the time
was suppressed. For 40 years, scientists couldn’t do
what they needed to do, which is measure stuff. Now, can I think of any other time
in human history when science is either being
suppressed or criminalized? Well, as matter of fact, I can. In 1616, and then for the subsequent 143 years, the science of the telescope was banned. It was illegal for people to report what they saw through
the lens of the telescope, specifically that the earth was not
the centre of the universe. LSD is to the study of the mind, what the telescope is to astronomy
and what the microscope is to biology, according to Stanislav Grof. Well, psychedelics are back. (Laughter) This is the Canadian
Medical Association Journal, the conservative voice
of Canadian medicine, with a number of articles,
exploring the psychedelic renaissance, the explosion of research
that has happened in recent years. That’s really what I want
to talk to you about. But to be really clear, what I’m talking about here is
skilled, trained, competent professionals using pure substances
in ways that are well supervised. I’m not talking about impure street drugs used by unsupervised,
irresponsible adolescents. So how do researchers think
about psychedelics these days? Because they break them
into three categories. The first are the classics: LSD, mescaline, dimethyltryptamine, and psilocybin. And these offer researchers
a variety of attributes that are worthy of investigation. For example, spirituality. Now, it’s kind of neutral spirituality because Buddhists find the Buddha, Christians find Christ, and atheists and agnostics
find the entire universe. And this particular aspect
of these medicines is quite useful for situations like end-of-life anxiety. When we are dying, and we’re anxious
about the experience, and we take a dosage of psilocybin,
and we meet our maker, and we’re told, it’s okay, we can relax. We’re just coming home. It tends to reduce
the stress of that transition. The classical psychedelics also offer
a disorientation of the ego, which can be very helpful in things
like treatment for alcoholism. They also increase the permeability between the unconscious
and the conscious mind; they allow us to have access
to our unconscious in a way that we don’t normally. Now, if you really think
about the human experience, a lot of our lives
are lived unconsciously. For example, driving a car. Our conscious mind
is thinking about the radio, and what we’re going to have for lunch, and the conflict we had
with our spouse, or whatever. We don’t think about our feet. Our unconscious mind is driving the car. We live our lives with lots of tape loops
that just happen automatically. And if something bad happened
to us in childhood, and it’s replaying itself
consistently in our adult life, and causing problems for us, it’s very hard to access
because it’s unconscious. Psychedelics can help with that. Psychedelics also offer –
the classic psychedelics offer what I call ‘the portal effect’, which is the ‘Wow,
that was incredible!’ effect. It’s a bit like climbing Mount Everest
or graduating high school; you have a sense of
accomplishment and transition. And that’s very helpful
in many conditions. The second group of psychedelics
are the empathogens; 3-MMC, MDA, MDMA are examples. And what they do is they bond people
and increase empathy. That’s really useful to bond a therapist
to somebody who wants some help. That connection is really important. It could be facilitated
with these medicines. They also take away fear. So if a soldier who’s been
in battle in Afghanistan comes back to North America and is replaying that trauma
again and again, normal therapy can’t access it, partly because it’s unconscious, but partly because
anything it gets close to, it has a huge fear response. And MDMA specifically takes away that fear
and allows the tape to be reworked. It appears MDMA-assisted psychotherapy
maybe the best treatment for PTSD, post-traumatic stress
disorder, that exists. And then there’s everything else. Things like ibogaine, which appear to be incredibly helpful for heroin withdrawals, opiate addiction, this 2C-B, this salvia, and this ketamine
that seems to be helpful for depression. Now, my own area of academic interest
is articulating post-prohibition models for the regulation and control
of all currently illegal drugs, based on public health principles. You might have noticed, drug prohibition is slowly crumbling under the weight
of its own ineffectiveness. It does not protect our communities. It does not protect our families. And it does not protect our children. So it will end. And I ask the question,
‘What are we going to replace it with?’ peering through the lens of public health. So the goal of a public health approach is to maximize the benefits
and minimize the harms. I’ve already talked about some benefits,
so I’d like to talk about harms. The harms from all drugs
can be broken into three categories: dependency, toxicity, and behaviour. Dependency – I worked for the addiction
services for 30 years. Nobody ever walked in my office
saying, ‘I can’t stop taking LSD’. (Laughter) It never happened! So the dependency potential
for psychedelics is really low. Toxicity – The last time you took
a prescription drug, if you took six times the dosage,
you probably did yourself harm. That one to six ratio is very
common for most drugs. With LSD, it’s in the thousands. In fact, Albert Hofmann, who invented LSD, said it was one of the least
toxic substances on the planet. So dependency is very low,
toxicity is very low, so all of the harms from psychedelics
come from one thing, which is the behaviour, which is essentially lack of supervision. Now, indigenous communities
have known this for years. They’ve always provided the experience
in a very tight container of safety, where they’re highly
supervised experiences. How researchers
are thinking about this today is they think about the words,
or they talk about the words: ‘set’, which is expectations; ‘setting’, which is the environment; ‘dosage’, which is
what you take and how much; and ‘safety’, which is the umbrella term. So set, setting, safety, and dosage are carefully structured
by the research community today. So in a post-prohibition world, if the goal is to maximize the benefits
and minimize the harms of psychedelics, people would have access
to the psychedelic experience. So long as they were supervised, there was a container of safety
built around the experience, and somebody was in charge. A trained competent, skilled professional, who is licensed, would be allowed
to offer the experiences to others so long as set, setting, dosage,
and safety were managed. And it wouldn’t matter
what the environment was: It could be indigenous healing circles; it could be psychedelic psychotherapy; it could be multi-day dance festivals. It doesn’t matter,
as long as somebody is in charge. I would like to reflect
on the human predicament today. We’re in trouble as a species. Global climate change
is affecting all of us. There’s a concentration of wealth
at the top of the pile that is unprecedented in any society,
so few people control so much wealth. There’s a huge amount of violence
and religious extremism. And we live in these
really strange societies where somehow we’ve equated
happiness with buying stuff. So if I really think about those problems,
they’re problems of disconnection: we are disconnected from the earth; we are disconnected from each other; we are disconnected from a true sense
of meaning and purpose in our lives; and we’re disconnected
from healthy spiritual experiences. The good news is psychedelics
are all about connections. These two images are very powerful. They’re depictions of the human brain
based on neuroscience. The one on the left
is the normal human brain. The parts of the outside of the circle are
the different parts of the human brain, the visual cortex, for example. Notice that the visual cortex talks
a lot to the visual cortex, and not a lot to the other
parts of the brain. The image on the right is the human brain
under the influence of psilocybin. Notice the rich range
of new connections that are formed. Psychedelics are all about connections: connections with self – we have access to our unconscious minds in a way we do not
normally have access to; connections with each other – that’s the empathogen research; connections with a sense
of meaning and purpose to life – there’s a lot of research done on that; and connections with a sense
of true spirituality – indigenous communities
have known that for centuries. Isaac Asimov said, ‘One of the saddest aspects of life now is that science gathers knowledge faster
than society gathers wisdom’. We as a human species need to grow up. We need to take advantage of and learn and work with
the knowledge that we already have. And perhaps, just perhaps – something that could
help us mature as a species and maybe even assist with our survival is mature, skillful, wise use
of psychedelic medicines. Thank you. (Applause) (Cheers)

100 thoughts on “Psychedelics: Past, present and future | Mark Haden | TEDxEastVan

  • I smoked crack from ‘02-‘16 and fentanyl for the last 7 yrs of that. I went to rehab and struggled to remain clean until I recently did 5 hits of LSD and it is miraculous. I have not struggled since! This stuff is heaven sent!

  • Here's some wisdom when I take LSD I sit down and meditate I activate my chakras one by one and the acid acts as a battery for my chakras once going through all my chakras it is completely different type of version of the drug experience taking one tab is enough trust me

  • "The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.

    Such an insightful quote.

  • I really appreciate that this is a mental health professional, knowledgeable about psychedelics who recognizes that restricting use to one on one attention with a therapist and religious rituals would still be a restriction that would disenfranchise people.

    Millennials and younger generations have experienced helicopter parenting more than completely disengaged parents, and the direct attentions of a therapist are not the same as getting to bond with peers (both friends and strangers).

    Music festivals can be responsible use venues, especially if they are allowed to implement best practice administration procedures.

  • Timothy Leary and his partner, Richard Alpert (who later became known as Ram Dass) were both fired from Harvard University for daring to advocate the use of psychedelics. Leary, content to stay in the United States, was well known for saying "turn on, tune in, drop out". Alpert went to India and sought out a well-known guru. When he found him, he was already in a deep state of Jnana (roughly translated as "meditation"). Alpert wanted to find out what affect a hit of LSD would have on him in the state the guru was already in. If I remember right, after seeing no response from the guru, Alpert gave him another hit. Alpert waited and waited and saw no reaction by the guru. This is what made Alpert (Ram Dass) want to stay in India and learn as much as he could. When Alpert returned to the United States, he wrote the book titled "Be Here Now". Alpert continued writing. and both he and Leary remained devoted to the pursuit of higher consciousness.

  • This guy has a great message, but he is about the worst public speaker I've ever seen. His intonation and pace are all off (quite annoying!). I wish we could take his content and put it in the mouth of a talented speaker!

  • That correct… Drug war was asinine but it was united States Government , they are re-issue of faults information and zealot enforcement for there prisons over prohibition of god ,s plants this is only profound continuum … CSL remains

  • Maximise benefits, minimise risks.. these medicines speak for themselves, there are remedies all around us.. big pharma is cheating us making a killing and killing us and our families.. think about it, peace x

  • I've done Mushrooms (100+) LSD (50+) DMT (100+) times, here is what I found.

    The only truly bad thing you can do with your life is to take it to seriously. Death is the only destination of life, so please don't hurry through, don't think of life as a journey, with a serious destination at the end. Realize it's all just play, it's a musical thing, and you are supposed to sing and dance your way through it.

  • I had a very severe panic diorder 20 years ago. I cured it with in one weekend with a mushroom trip. Guided by myself and by myself, in a totally dark room. I haven't had a sigle episode since.

    I have now an awareness of the human conscious, as the : ME.. I could see/feel my body as a transporter, to move/help around my self-awareness. Now knowing I'm a person, but only in this dimension. I'll get out to reach full meaning of life, when the body no longer functions. But the awareness of the human conscious mind, is ready to move into another way of being ME..

  • Still looking for a realistic view on this subject. Too many – LSD – kiss asses ! LSD ain't all that and a big bag of chips !

  • Everyone while he's going though his list of drugs:

    Check ☑
    Check ☑
    Check ☑
    Oh that sounds interesting, gotta call my dealer ☒

  • Buddhists find Buddah, Christians find Christ, Atheists find the universe… And winos find likkkkkk-ah!!!!

  • Having done LSD/mushrooms I'm confused how those drugs could be used to cure "fear/anxiety". it's SO intense and one has to let go of control to enjoy it.

  • I really loved the way he explained with an analogy of telescope. Simple to explain to a non-psychedelic person.:-P

  • TEDx put an informational note in the upper right corner stating that this talk falls outside of its curatorial guidelines. I read the guidelines (click the link for yourself). I disagree with TEDx. This fully falls within the TEDx guidelines. TEDx appears to fearful, as an organization, to allow speakers to question authority, or authoritarianism. But this appears to be an unwritten guideline, that a speaker should just know, as depicted in the phrase "It goes without saying".

  • imagine who is behind the social backlash of psychadelic drugs….. Pharmaceutical industry and those who control humankind and want people faraway from happyness , thats why they killed Bob Marley, John Lenon, etc… just think for a second if we are really controled by Humans or other Species.

  • Leary's 'Drop out' referred to dropping out of one's own preconceptions, not dropping out of college or society. The term was eagerly latched onto by the media who resented the apparent freedom of the youth movement.

  • Science is growing faster but the society is gathering slow.
    Perceive positive collective universal concious.

  • Those of us who are responsible users of psychedelics know well the benefits it has upon the human mind and know the importance of protecting humanity's right to 'raise our consciousness' as we see fit. Psychedelics should not be called a drug anymore and the term 'medicine' is much more apt

  • Its shown me the error in my ways, whether I like it or not. And its all so beautiful how connected you are left feeling afterwards.

  • LSD has done amazing things for the transformation of my own life, and I have also had amazing experiences with mushrooms as well. These things to me, are truly medicinal in the most amazing ways. We really can reach the next level of who we can become as a human race if we choose to!!

  • "I'm not talking about impure street drugs taken unsupervised by irresponsible adolescents" @me next time lol

  • I sound like such a hippie to majority of people i try convince about psychedelics,, magic mushrooms saved my life and i wont ever forget what they have done for me ❤️ mushrooms

  • Last time i took mushrooms (other than microdose) i went deep into my mind & i could see the wall to the 4th dimension, didnt go through because i wasnt sure if i could come back. O.o
    Was also watching rick & morty @ the time…

  • problems of disconnection, exactly, and psychadelics are perfect for connection, but remember..on the right set and setting, otherwise IT CAN BE HARMFUL! dont think that you will take some LSD and suddenly you become better human or even enlighted, is just a tool for a bigger inner work, dont put all your coins on the tool, use it wisely.

  • Would have been nice if he didn't preach! LSD does not need religion! LSD needs no permission from religion to be the conduit to the soul! Thank you LSD ,and friends, I greatly benefited from the 60's and 70's!

  • The only thing I have a problem to in this speech is that "as long as someone is in charge" emphasis. 😀
    Rule number one: Anybody can do whatever they want.
    It's more important to facilitate common understanding level. Rather than running into "safety" of controlled system I imagine transformed society where everybody is able to take care of themselves on their own by understanding that none of us is alone.

  • I have yet to find a talk about psychadelics that is not DANGEROUS propaganda. I am not against taking them, I have done it myself but they can have long lasting very negative effects that have more to do with the person, their mindset, personality, illnesses than the environment itself. Psychadelics absolutely can trigger mental illnesses if the wrong people take them.

  • everything comes with a ying and yang.. psychedelics have an incredible potential for enlightenment and for delusion.

  • He makes sense on one level, the hippie psychedelic phase and post hippie hard drug/stoner phase from the early '70s led many to become life long stoners or to give it up altogether and for some to see that all he talks about can be achieved without any drugs at all and if you chose that path, if you work maybe for decades for this new depth, you actually own . . . a sense of arrival in your being no drug ever can offer.


  • 1:30 you forgot to add "The grateful Dead with LSD" to that list.  They're the largest 1 & you DIDN'T EVEN MENTION THAT 1!

  • "Salvia for depression"
    Haha good one buddy. I still remember Donkey Kong charging through the hotel hallway.
    I was a light post. 3/10 would smoke again before actually dying tho.

  • I know it's super minor, but I'm glad he mentioned "multi day dance festivals". I had my first experience with psychedelics through raving. People are too quick to dismiss how uplifting a music festival are. For all the non ravers that see this, go Google "PLUR". It goes hand in hand with psychedelics.

  • Look, the therapist needs to take the mdma too, if im gonna be on the truth drug i want the thearapist to be totally honest too 😀

  • There are those among us bringing this back. I’m a practicing psychedelic endurance shaman. Cactus & mushrooms are not counted by how many experiences, rather part of a strict diet. There are quite a few of us floating around the populace. It’s my work to fully learn & experience these realms of consciousness to guide & supply these medicines free of charge. Your healing & the ripple effect it causes is my payment. 🙏❤️

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