I've done 5 or 6 solo sessions in the past year since reading this book, sometimes mixing a tab of LSD as well to go a bit deeper. They have all been different but have largely gone as described in the book. I've done a lot of therapy in my life and personal growth is a priority in my life.
As a result of these sessions I've overcome some serious challenges that I had previously assumed were static aspects of my personality. It has been challenging to be sure, but much better to deal with things head-on for a short time, than to deal with them low-key forever.
Thought the community here would appreciate this given the mild interest/openness to psychedelics.
I'd be happy to answer any questions about my experience so far, ask whatever you'd like!
[edit: missed a word]
Just curious, what were the static aspects of your personality that it helped with, if you’re willing to go into more detail?
Here are a few examples - happy to discuss further if you'd like:
I would say it a lot of it boils down to being more calm and my "self" in more situations, and less reactive.
My relationship with work has improved drastically - I used to be quite afraid to speak in meetings and really tried to hide in a lot of situations, but find myself much more relaxed and even enjoy expressing myself with my colleagues these days.
Also with work, I have a much easier time setting boundaries and letting work go when it's time to call it a day.
I've found my relationships have deepened significantly as well as I am less guarded and more open to intimacy.
I've gathered that it's best to drop the L and then the M at about T+3 hours.
I easily could have wound up working a job with my first name on my shirt for the rest of my life, assuming I was incapable of greater things. Instead I had a random year traveling the world with a motley bunch that changed my life and my own perception of sanity.
If you are opposed to such things, stay clear and take the regular route. If you are willing to take a chance; the road less traveled - you may just change your entire future trajectory.
I wish now I could do it again, but life and time just gets in the way.
The tidbits you've dropped do produce a lot of curiosity about the rest of the story too.
You would be better suited to a solo mushroom or LSD experience, coming from someone who spent her 20s doing such things. YMMV, but just from almost a decade of experience, there are much, much better substances for solo healing experiences.
I do not recommend any illegal substances but would not condone the use of MDMA in the appropriate social setting for the purposes of personal healing as I have had positive experiences myself with it. I have also seen people take it way, way too far. Again - YMMV.
I actually have very little interest in taking MDMA socially anymore. How I see it is that as unconscious material comes to the surface, you need to be present with it or it doesn't really get processed. If you're distracted by your awesome friends there is just less space and energy for that, and what happens is you end up bringing all this shit to the surface, NOT engaging with it, and then coming down and it's still right up at the surface. This is in my experience why the hangovers suck so much. After a therapeutic session I feel drained but never hung over and depressed like I have after some social experiences.
Everyone is different of course but I say don't knock it til you try it!
I've found during techno shows I did spend a good amount of time dancing with my eyes closed, trying to dig in. But that wasn't at all the focus... so maybe a true solo experience would be better.
Also, did you listen to music solo? Or is that also a distraction.
I think there are definitely parallels with a solo session and dancing w/ eyes closed at a rave - the same process really but as you say at a dance event there are a ton of distractions, and less space for really releasing when you need to. For instance, shaking has been a big part of the release for me, but it would be hard to do that at a public event w/o people being weirded out - they'd probably think you took too many drugs and need medical attention.
Re: music, yes I always listen to music, but it's been tough to find the right stuff sometimes. I have read that some folks prefer silence as well, so I'd suggest trying both and seeing what works - might be different in different sessions as well :)
Nothing about M is intimidating, since I've done it many times before. The most intimidating thing is to focus on the task at hand the whole time. I'm so used to talking to people, texting people close to me, thinking about others etc.
My biggest fear is that revert to having my own rave. Playing music and texting other people.
That said, going into it with intention goes a long way. For the days/weeks prior to a session I usually keep a document going and add things that come up. For example, an interaction w/ my wife or a colleague or friend may be difficult and bring up some tension that I'd like to work through, so I'll note that down. When the session comes I'll have a general idea of the areas in life where I'm feeling stuck, so I'll go into it with the intention of working through those.
During one session, the first time I mixed LSD, at one point I was thinking to myself about how the combination was clearly not a good idea since it wasn't working, and reciting in my head how I would describe this to people afterwords. Then, it occurred to me that it's not working because instead of being present with the feelings that are coming up I am distracting myself by thinking of how I'll describe how it didn't work. Once I realized this I was able to go deeper and there was release :)
I'd strongly recommend reading the book as well before you try it, there is a lot of good advice in there for how to prepare and structure a session. As several folks have pointed out, the language is super intense at times, but try to get past that (it's mostly in the beginning chapters anyways) and it's well worth the read.
While I do believe that MDMA does have therapeutic benefits, it is amphetamine, a stimulant with strong euphoric properties, which is why it's commonly used as a party drug. It's a very "moreish" drugs, and it's pretty easy to end up on a drug binge that lasts all night, only then to have an uncomfortable comedown and to feel like shit for multiple days afterwards. The people I know who party on MDMA, they basically do it every weekend and can't seem to stop. I used to be like that myself, and it took me a few years to learn moderation. I fell in love with that drug, and it became a problem.
Also, while mushrooms can be very introspective, MDMA is very much a prosocial drug, and you are completely missing out on the experience if you do it alone. I would save that drug for parties (in moderate amounts), and for psychotherapy, if you have a therapist that is open to that.
That's like saying DNA is sugar. But yeah, getting all the oxytocin alone is kinda wasteful.
All amphetamines release dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, just in different ratios. D-Amphetamine is heavier on the dopamine and NE, MDMA is heavier on the serotonin, but it's still a dopamine releaser, which contributes to its addictive qualities. What MDMA does, neurochemically speaking, is not that far from what methamphetamine does. Meth is much more addictive for a number of reasons, including the way people typically consume it (smoking vs oral), but MDMA is no toy.
If you go all the way down you will find the natural precursor amino acids to a range of neurotransmitters, and ... they will look very similar to amphetamine.
It is also worth noting that street economy MDMA is frequently cut with stimulants, as the pure MDMA effects are not well suited for partying. E pills often have 20-30% MDA, caffeine, amphetamine or meth in them.
Also equating dopamine release with addiction is also not very precise. There are different dopamine systems in the brain. Usually it's assumed the addiction potential of MDMA rather stemming from the frequent over-exciting experiences dulling every day life. People are chasing the intense party life vastly enhanced by drugs, not exactly the drugs themselves. Many MDMA addicts limit their consume to the weekend and suffer through the boringness of work week; usually it doesn't spiral out of control like with other drugs. For most people it's not a every day kind of stimulant drug like cocaine, amphetamine or meth.
I don't know if you can really digest DNA and get calories out of it, but the thing is, methamphetamine and MDMA both bind to the serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake transporters and produce release of monoamines. I would bet you that they are also deactivated by the same enzymes, etc. It's not a coincidence. They behave similarly because they are (very) similar molecules. Not all molecules that are similar behave similarly, but they often do. That shouldn't be so surprising if you have a background in chemistry.
> the pure MDMA effects are not well suited for partying.
I know many people who party on pure MDMA. The effect varies from person to person. Some people find pure MDMA very relaxing, others find it very stimulating.
> People are chasing the intense party life vastly enhanced by drugs, not exactly the drugs themselves.
As someone who has experienced this first hand, I would say that things are muddier than you think. Stimulants affect your reward pathways. They slowly change your behavior so that you can get that dopamine hit again. It can sneak up on you without you really realizing. You think you love partying, but at some point, you might just realize, you have a lot of friends who do drugs, and you've gradually restructured your life so that you can do drugs more often.
> Many MDMA addicts limit their consume to the weekend and suffer through the boringness of work week; usually it doesn't spiral out of control like with other drugs. For most people it's not a every day kind of stimulant drug like cocaine, amphetamine or meth.
I think there's two aspects to this:
1. MDMA depletes serotonin reserves. If you abuse it during the weekend, you get diminishing returns. It's kind of self-limiting in that way. With cocaine and amphetamine, you can increase the dose and keep getting a strong euphoric effect, you can push things much farther, go on binges that last several days without sleeping.
2. The culture is different. There's a whole subculture of people who party on weekends. That subculture is different from that of meth users. Most of the people who can afford to go out to parties and clubs have day jobs and lives outside of partying. Most people are disciplined enough to throw their lives away and use drugs with some amount of moderation. I also know many people who manage to take cocaine, ketamine and speed on weekends and live a pretty normal life the rest of the time.
People who take meth are often poor, even homeless and in dire circumstances. They're looking to maximize cost-efficiency, get the best bang for their buck in terms of getting a high, which is why they inject or smoke it. Kind of like an alcoholic might go for drinking pure, cheap whisky. People do that because they are desperate and hopeless :(
I think amphetamine's action is much more affecting the anticipation of reward than reward itself. The selective dopaminergic effect is why it works for ADHD, but nicotine and caffeine do not.
Abuse comes with finding ways to spike the system and causing dysregulation, e.g. secondary dopaminergic effects across the brain. I think MDMA usually isn't consumed in a way getting a high from a sudden spike, it isn't smoked, injected and probably overall seldomly snorted; I think it's mostly taken orally.
That's also why people smoke meth. It's not about efficiency, but the rapid uptake is essential for a certain type of high. E.g. nicotine patches aren't addictive. For nicotine to become hugely addictive you need the rush from rapid uptake via inhalation in addition to MAOIs found in tobacco smoke. Crack is vastly more addictive than cocaine for the same reason. The free base allows for inhalation, that's the whole magic.
Anyway, I am just nitpicking about the amphetamine ~= MDMA. I think we're overall on the same page.
While this basic line of argument is wrong, if you are going to do it, you should start with the fact that the MA stand for methamphetamine.
Are you sure it's undertones on authority or on corruption and regulatory capture that conveniently lead, misguided government and its powers to demonize what are turning out to be far more effective treatment options than the patentable medications big pharma promotes?
While therapists are of course also doing business or at the very least earning a living by providing the therapy, and it's thus true they might not be entirely disinterested, they may well have genuine concerns on the psychological and emotional safety of their patients. The combative and even arrogant attitude the early pages show towards well-intentioned professionals is, IMO, unwarranted.
I think the general message he's trying to get across re: therapists is that even the best intentioned therapist ultimately puts a ceiling on one's personal growth, as the dynamic inherently implies that the client in some way needs the therapist to heal. And that therapists have little incentive to acknowledge this dynamic.
Matthew Johnson: Psychedelics | Lex Fridman Podcast #145
Matthew W. Johnson is a professor and psychedelics researcher at Johns Hopkins.
There are also very simple methods for "washing" what you buy to increase purity and thus dose more accurately + reduce side effects.
So you buy some MDMA, take a bit from it, bring it to the lab, get it test for free, and presto! The only risk is financial risk.
Disclaimer: I've never done it, I've only see some (probably state-sponsored) videos on it.
Much is still not understood about serotonin, but this is ridiculous.
This appears to be pseudoscience of the same variety as anti-vax literature and rumors of 5G causing COVID.
EDIT: To clarify: I'm not disputing that MDMA could have legitimate therapeutic uses, but this is not a credible source.
I would encourage you to read a bit further and see past that to the actual protocol!
"Please don't post shallow dismissals, especially of other people's work. A good critical comment teaches us something."
I get the impression this is possibly one of the most "hahahaha where do I even start" subjects in terms of theory vs experience, but still, I'm curious to see if there's a not horribly inaccurate way I can reason about it.
When you begin to feel the onset, gently ask for it to be like MDMA (or any drug you want), its effect was shockingly similar.
Never ask Psilocybe mushroom what it is because I often have terrible trips. It's simply out of this world literally.
“I’ve mentioned that psilocin, which is what psilocybin quickly becomes as it enters your metabolism, is 4 hydroxy dimethyltryptamine. It is the only 4-substituted indole in all of organic nature. Let this rattle around in your mind for a moment. It is the only 4-substituted indole known to exist on earth. It happens to be this psychedelic substance that occurs in about eighty species of fungi, most of which are native to the New World. Psilocybin has a unique chemical signature that says, “I am artificial; I come from outside.”
This is kinda interesting. It almost sounds to me like brain plasticity on overdrive, where you can basically dictate the interpretative model your brain uses to create reference points for what it's going through.
It also suggests that there are additional subconscious layers beyond what drugs temporarily make consciously accessible, which this particular compound is activating and causing to behave in a way that filters an experience down that matches a certain set of experiential memories.
Also makes sense why removing all the filters and going straight for "let's see what this thing really is" produces uncomfortableness - the distorted mess that comes out of a set of overdriven speakers is painful, semantically meaningless, and entropic to the point of having no discernible pattern.
> You'd likely need to have already experienced the drug in question in order for this to work, right?
I am genuinely curious about this. It should be but I wonder if somebody who has never smoked a joint in their life would be comfortable with the idea of ingesting it to test this out.
Most people seem to have horrible first trips because they are probably worried about going crazy so they do it in the comfort of their rooms which almost always triggers existential panic.
I just happened to take it on a commute and walking to work, seeing nature, oh my, it was serenity, I felt like it was repairing my soul.
Looking to repeat this I took it in my room alone; big mistake, the trip was quite disturbing but perhaps because my own life experiences were disturbing and I was only waking up to it.
Thinking back, taking mushrooms alone in your room has consistently led to horrible trips but compensated by an overwhelming sense of healing and long lasting anti-depressant effect.
Perhaps it is the ego which is actively trying to resist the Psilocyn Programming. Ego death literally feels like you are dying but on the other side is the realization, it is completely an illusion!
It didn't make much sense. I was basically stuck with time/reality changing and moving onward, even though I was resisting it. I think I was physically moving myself in a circle on my bed, trying to resist reality.
Then it ended and that was it. Wasn't enjoyable, and didn't learn much. Perhaps just a metaphor that you can't resist the true reality and moving of life.
Next time I'll definitely do out while hiking instead.
One of the things I've sometimes noticed (just going along normally) is that my mental "track" where I consciously keep up with/label/identify/classify environmental input, my own thoughts, ideas, etc, can sometimes lag, or get into a state where I don't have sufficiently detailed mental mnemonics to consciously tokenize raw perceptions, and as a result I can't correlate info and lose track of it. This happens constantly, especially when I try to learn new things; I'll basically be like "...!!!...wait what?" the whole time, realizing Amazing New Things™ that I'm then unable to mentally articulate to myself and then remember.
What you described, with time/reality changing/moving forward while you were resisting it (trying to pin it down so you could focus on it?) made me think of the above.
If what I described resonates, that could mean that psi doesn't "enhance" or have an altering impact on the fundamental issues/glitches/??? behind this mechanism, to the extent that all that happens is extra awareness of the problem, without really being able to affect it.
I totally missed it. But would love to cash in on this thread which I see as inevitable.
Intevitable because, based solely on my feelings and no hard facts, social trends make it inevitable.
Both Business, and cultural trends support it. Political trends aren't opposing it. Greed and trendiness. What more do you need?