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We Will Call It Pala: A Story for the Psychedelic Movement (aurynfund.org)
120 points by kudu 17 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 47 comments



Brutal honesty: You just caught me k-holed at a rave in Toronto reading this and I feel like I have just lived a lifetime. Wow. Insanely well written. Also: glad I’m not one of the pioneers, unfortunately.


protip: dance at raves and put your phone down. :)


It's hard to dance k-holed. Any movement makes you want to throw up.


In my experience, Entheogens and money have a reluctant relationship. A 'psychedlic healing' business immediately sounds concerning to me. I can't find any convincing credentials beyond the author taking these substances at some point in her life. The author lambasts MBAs yet admits they themselves are a marketer. Not to mention, 'psychedelic industry' just sounds wrong.

What's the difference between psychedelics and anti depressants? Psychedelics have a religious component-- no, not the dogmatic, institutionalized sort you find in the likes of the roman catholic church; rather, the kind of spiritual experiences that help you come to terms with your existence, and your demise. More akin to a shaman than a pope.

While I think the world could use 'psychedelic churches' in a manner of speaking, I struggle to reconcile that with anything possesing a profit motive. lofty ideals alone will not lead to enlightenment.


There are significant differences between psychedelics and anti-depressants, both mechanically and when it involves long-term treatment planning and monetization.

Although research is quite limited due to regulatory constraints, John Hopkins has particularly interesting research on the subject (https://hopkinspsychedelic.org), with ongoing trials.

I think you're right about the shamanic ideal - at its current state, this doesn't seem to be the kind of treatment you can scale through the form of a pill.


> The Native American Church (NAC), also known as Peyotism and Peyote Religion, is a Native American religion that teaches a combination of traditional Native American beliefs and Christianity, with sacramental use of the entheogen peyote.[1] The religion originated in the Oklahoma Territory (1890-1907) in the late nineteenth century, after peyote was introduced to the southern Great Plains from Mexico.[1][2][3] Today it is the most widespread indigenous religion among Native Americans in the United States (except Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians), Canada (specifically First Nations people in Saskatchewan and Alberta), and Mexico, with an estimated 250,000 adherents as of the late twentieth century.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_Church


A psychedelic church would just end up being a tax-dodge for drug dealers probably.


While not totally what you are describing there is Santo Daime although it is more religous based.

There is also Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church in Orlando which seems to operate in the public.


A church as a tax-dodge for drug dealers is not a new thing.


A church as a tax-dodge is not a new thing.


From a purely commercial perspective, I think we're seeing the birth of a huge growth industry in psychedelics.

It certainly feels like there's a lot of demand for alternative (i.e. non SSRI/CBT) treatments for depression. At the same time, there are countless anecdotes of psilocybin/LSD having a profound success on people with these types of mental health conditions.

My prediction is that psychedelics will replicate the success of the marijuana industry, albeit in a much more restricted/regulated environment.


Beautiful parody of a possible future, this was incredibly well written and designed.

As it stands it's not uncommon to pay around $200/night for Ayahuasca retreats (plus $75/night lodging), and 5-MEO DMT, $200 on the low end and $1K+ in places like Los Angeles, for a 10-20 minute experience beyond experience. I've met more than one shaman/business owner absolutely raking it in, booked solid, turning people away due to overwhelming demand.

Needless to say it's a lucrative market, not out of the realm of possibility to see big pharma getting in on the action if legalization moves beyond marijuana.


> What vision do you hold in your heart for a psychedelic future?

"Psychedelic" is mind-manifesting and I see freedom of self expression, freedom of speech as a roadmap into the future, not only the narrow medical/therapeutic context. Healing is important but it excludes people that would self-assess themselves as healthy - so, most people.

While flying up to space to see Earth rotating under could be therapeutic and heal your depression, awaken a completely different borderless understanding of Earth as one whole - becoming an astronaut is not an adequate medical practice at this point, it involves a number of risks, depending where every person is to begin with.

Statistical prevalence of schizophrenia is 1.2% and it's often not diagnosed - so every 1 out of 100 people is a very high risk case that even best, most experienced professionals sometimes can't handle (check out what went on with Olivia Arevalo).

Like diving, rock climbing, base jumping, surfing - most safe psychedelic sessions will rely on other people who are more experienced and can help beginners in person. There is no app that could replace a PADI instructor 10m below water surface.

I think all business models of the future should factor high risk in and model scuba diving or rock climbing - our consciousness is very fragile and psychedelic trauma is real.


Beautiful story. I’ve also been thinking about starting a psychedelic spa. “Light and plants” has been the central thing I’ve been thinking about for design.


Funny that in Brasília "pala" is a slang for broken and for psychotropic experiences, in the sense that if a gadget of yours start misbehaving or stops working than you can say it "deu pau", same as "deu pala", it's also used when you're experiencing some drug effect, for example laughing uncontrollably is the famous "pala de riso" or "broken of laughing", lol


The most important part of psychedelic therapy—as opposed to a psychedelic experience—is unsurprisingly the therapy.

In the studies at Johns Hopkins and other places, the protocol always includes a number of therapy sessions before the trip, and an often smaller of sessions number afterward to foster integration of the experience. In addition, there are two therapists present during the trip itself to monitor and assist the patient as needed.

That therapy plays a big role in the positive outcomes. I think these substances should be legalized for recreational use, but it’s important to decide why you want to take one of them and frame the experience properly. I can imagine an iteration of the story where psychedelics are fully legal, with the result being that those competing businesses seeking cash cows don’t make as much sense. In that world, psychedelic therapy is just another form of therapy, and doesn’t also serve as the gatekeeper of an otherwise-unavailable controlled substance.


I've recently become a certified Kambo practitioner and it may end up segwaying me into the problems posed here. I'd love to include work with entheogens (mushrooms/psilohuasca in particular), but I'm not fond of doing anything "underground". The efforts made in Oakland (and a couple of other places) are exciting; I really hope we do it right federally.


( segueing )


Well I sure wouldn't be _walking_ in this day and age... ;)

(whoops)


This story is fiction? Man I did not get that until I googled for a few of the company and individual names and came up with nothing. What are the real analogous companies? Is this story actually illustrative of the recent history and state of this industry?


On http://aurynfund.org they say they are a fund for supporting a better variety of psychedelic medicine businesses (equitable,affordable, for all) but they list no portfolio companies or otherwise no references to any such companies. Weird.


It's still a legal grey area with the way the analogue act is written. Technically, just about any psychedelic COULD be treated as schedule 1 if it's intended for human consumption, because they all have fairly similar chemical structures and activity profiles. Best not to give prosecutors an easy list to run down if you're interested in furthering the cause.


I'm still confused about to what degree this entire story is fiction or not. Just different names or do such companies actually exist? I did google (honestly only for a minute or two) and didn't find any such clinics in actual operation in SF.


> It doesn't appear that there is such a thing as a flashback from LSD.

That's false. Many people report constantly seeing low-key visuals after LSD, and I myself sometimes see the familiar geometric patterns when I meditate with my eyes open. Still consider LSD a very positive and life enhancing experience for me, but this seems very ill-informed and badly researched. Despite my positive experience, I would be very catious about advising LSD to others, especially to people who haven't gone through extensive therapy first.


> Many people report constantly seeing low-key visuals after LSD

That's not the classical 'flashback' though, which is generally described as suddenly being back in the middle of it in an overwhelming way. It's more like a low-level HPPD (which is something of an oxymoron as HPPD is defined by being high-level enough to interfere in life).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallucinogen_persisting_percep...


For anyone who doesn't know it, the name Pala is a reference to the setting of a novel by Aldous Huxley - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_(Huxley_novel)


Can't recommend that book enough. Huxley nailed it.


I loved the story. It spoke to me.

I'm optimistic. Things work in cycles. I think I know what would happen next. First, the human touch component would move out of the commodified middle class model to high-cost gentrified models and to low/no cost homebrew models.

Second, the middle class psychedelic exposure would result in hundreds of thousands more psychedelically adept humans, inspired to create meaningful, connected change. More than a cure for disease, it would catalyze cultural adaptation.

As psychedelic chemicals commercialise and normalize, new mystical rituals would develop, secular but profound. Classical civilization will continue, integrating science and spirit, commerce and consciousness. As it was, as it will be.

Capitalism does this. It moves in cycles, growing and corrupting, growing and corrupting. But in the end, with gratitude, we appear to live in a good world that offers us a beautiful future.


How will society actually be different afterwards? Please be specific in your answer.

I've seen this sort of utopian thinking any number of times. If only everyone could just take a trip man, we would all live in love and harmony!

Except it's either just vague pipedreams and semi-mystical aspiration, or it's something more solid like communal living that in general disintegrates in the cold light of day.


My two cents - psychedelics can open your mind to a new way of processing information and thinking about your daily existence. Anecdotally, it's happened to me over the last 11+ years (not through psychedelics, but through other spiritual practices like meditation). The result is that I'm less angry, less judgmental, less likely to fly off the handle. Much better at processing information, removing clutter (bullshit), and disassociating from perceptions and feelings that used to define me.

In a very practical manner, this has made my interactions with everyone around me much..."better" doesn't feel like the right word but I'll use it here anyway. This is very simple - I'm "happier" (again, not the right word, but it'll do for now), I end up treating others better, which in turn has positive impacts on their lives and hopefully the lives of others that they engage with.


well firstly, as you said, you've done this without the aid of psychedelics, so I'm not sure it's exactly an answer to my question!

And secondly, well that's not exactly a societal change. Has it made you ready to ditch capitalism?

(edit -- I'm sure your change in mindset is a positive thing, I'm not disputing that. I'm also not disputing that psychedelics can have a profound effect on individuals. But as someone who has used a fairly wide variety of psychedelics over a number of years, I've also experienced and observed that they can induce a false sense of the deeply profound. They do also seem to leave people with this idea they could change the world, but they never really seem to know how)


If they play an important role in reducing the prevalence and severity of mental illness by an order of magnitude, I think that would be a huge boon to society, human well-being, and the advance of civilization. There have been a number of very promising studies.

It's hard to fully capture the damage that is done by debilitating depression or anxiety, for example. I think the statistics are that 20% of the entire population will experience at least one episode during their lifetime. And that number has been increasing.


perhaps a "state of chill"? nothing fancier that to be kind, be cool, and be able to put yourself in others' shoes for a second.


Psychedelic medicines allow people to attempt to heal themselves. Individual-driven intervention is not utopian.


It is suicidal for most people. They're not equipped to handle these things safely, and however safe and non-addictive these substances are they do have side effects. Sometimes, rarely, lasting and not necessarily pleasant.

You can oversell them like SSRI are as well, that would be bad and easy to do.

Study then first and use them, but be careful about the consequences.


"suicidal for most people". You are flat wrong. Read the research. I would point people to Michael Pollan's new book "How to Change Your Mind" if you're interested in this type of therapy.


> we appear to live in a good world that offers us a beautiful future.

That sounds quite entitled. Sure, if you are a well-off individual in one of western democracies, or one of very few riding the success wave elsewhere. For the rest, the world is changing for sure, some things get better, many things (environment, true freedom) are getting worse.

The sentiment you describe was common for hippies too, world-reshaping change just around the corner. But then reality happened. Don't hold your breath


The world is getting better in many measurable ways. Access to reliable food, clean water, medical treatment, education, opportunities for women, and many others is up across the world.

Of course that's cold comfort to the people in places that are still going downhill, or who are "getting better" but still pretty shit. And environmental catastrophe is an existential threat. So it's not all sunshine and lollipops. But I don't think it's reasonable to say we're sliding straight into the abyss, either.


I'm sorry if you feel life isn't working out. There are still many challenges. But the challenges we have are good and true -- most people have more freedom and opportunities than they think. The disadvantaged are often disadvantaged in optimism and confidence -- if we keep telling people that they are oppressed and the world is shit, they might believe it. It is helpful for young brown girls the world over to know that they've never had more opportunity, or more people rooting for their success.

Pessimism has consequences -- and reality is what we make of it.


Don't think psychedelic therapy can or should be shoehorned into the "scale out and make VC/CEO rich" model


Until you realize that many millions are suffering and every day someone doesn't get treated is another opportunity for them to kill themselves.


I used to live on a rez called Pala. I gave away many substituted tryptamines and phenethylamines there.


I had a thought that this is even beyond the word psychedelia and extends more broadly to all modern health. But then, I think the word is just right, since psychedelia has as much to do with LSD as vitamins have to do with vitamin water. If you disagree with the analogy that’s no issue, it’s simply A Catchy Hook.

Psychedelic simply means expansion of the mind and is independent of any particular practice or substance.

Mindfulness seems to be another, or even, “the,” new culmination word for “safe” psychedelia in the west (as contrast with the “unsafe” roll-your-own a.la burning man). We can tell it’s the current culmination word because it’s polarized, the one word with a significant amount of scientific research, but then at the same time oddly clinical and paradoxically overall too LuLu lemon & vitamin water. It just doesn’t seem to have that same oomph as eating acid and stealing fire in the desert, but it’s receiving medical approvals that pave the way for economics to benefit people at scale. Mindfulness seems to encourage passivity, but then it’s practiced by navy seals. At the core, it’s all wrong by placing too much focus on the mind, just like we’ve always done in Latin-based languages.

Whatever the word is, developing a perspective that we individually believe is worth cultivating is the root of a connection between well-being and performance.

It doesn’t sound like a SASS app because it isn’t. It doesn’t seem like a good business idea because business is a dirty word, like mindfulness, people think there’s a way to do it.

Two quotes stood out to me:

“But what we really need are psychedelic models for business - business that defines new standards for integrity, equity and ethics; business reimagined with a technicolor glow.”

“What would I have done if I had known that this would happen?”

The second seems like exactly the right question. If you have an answer I’d love to chat, even just for fun.


Actually now I’m confused because I don’t understand Latin. Psyche definitely gets at the mind idea, but also soul or spirit. Ick sounds like what I do before I vomit but I guess “delic” is really what we’d be concerned about, but then this seems like it’s just talking about an experience of the first thing, an arrow pointing back to an amorphous blob of language. I’m not sure if it’s better or worse that I brought my own preconceptions to the word at this point, or how my preconceptions are different from the thing itself. I’m seeing other interpretations talking about dissolution. It’s certainly something big happening, that’s for sure! In a way, I’m also confused about mindfulness. Is my mind full or is the fullness of mind different from that? Does it mean something that there’s only one “L?”

Absolutely I think the next interesting discussions could either be about the word, or what to do.

Again, thanks to the author for properly choosing A New Brand, with existing baggage which perfectly typifies where discussions like this tend to go, see comments below.


WOW now I’m even more confused on how Latin is different from Greek.

I should not be listened to when it comes to the words.


Fuck your burn!


It was better next year.




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