681: Albert Garcia-Romeu, part 1: Psychedelics and Time in Nature
Regular listeners know I’ve been asking people what the environment means to them as part of the Spodek Method. Many people respond with touching answers that I would call something close to life-altering. Maybe more like life-guiding, life-enhancing, or giving meaning and purpose.
I’ve heard of increasing research into psychedelics recently. Reading reports of people who took psylocibin in clinical settings with guides for the experience, I was struck by how similar their effects to those of quintessential moments in the environment. Both talked about oneness, awe, humility, understanding, feeling understood, connectedness, and similar things, though, of course, each experience was unique. Many said that the effects of their experiences lasted sometimes years, potentially permanently. Many could stop addictions overnight without relapsing. Some improved relationships with loved ones.
I hypothesized that some of the experience of psychedelics might have been a regular part of the lives of our ancestors who lived in the 250,000 years or so before civilization, as well as those who live outside it today. Might the drugs just be achieving something remedial that had long been part of our lives?
Might we who live in human-built environments be missing deeply meaningful parts of our lives that were regular for nearly all our ancestors? Might that lack be contributing to our not knowing what we’re missing when we capitulate, abdicate, and resign to choose comfort and convenience over alleviating suffering and caring for our neighbors?
I emailed with Roland Griffiths, the head of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic Research, which I understand to be the premier research center in the field. He put me in touch with Albert. I couldn’t wait to compare the effects and potential of psychedelics with the effects and potential of simply spending time in nature.