22 Sept 2023

Psychedelic Parenthood: A New Ancestral Way of Raising a Family

MAPS Bulletin: Volume XXXIII Number 2 • 2023

Photo of Rick smiling
Photo of Rick smiling at Psychedelic Science 2023

As a young man seeking understanding, I looked to my elders for guidance to understand myself, the world, and the potential for psychedelics. I sought out teachers like Stan Grof who could teach me to use non-ordinary states of consciousness in my personal growth.. When the Drug Enforcement Administration sought to ban MDMA in 1984, it was a coalition of people from their 20s to their 60s who worked together in our attempt to fend off those efforts. Though MDMA was ultimately banned in 1986, many in that multi-generational group supported the formation of MAPS and trusted me, still a young man, to lead the long fight to make MDMA an FDA-approved medicine. 

In this issue of the MAPS Bulletin, we explore multi-generational experiences and celebrate intergenerational collaboration. Emerging research on physiological markers of epigenetic trauma is providing a biological basis for the theory that trauma can be genetically passed from generation to generation. If the FDA determines that MDMA-assisted therapy is a safe and effective treatment for PTSD, we will have developed a new key to unlocking PTSD. We hope the impact could reduce trauma generation-over-generation. 

I propose a new vision for our work together: a world of net-zero trauma by 2070. 

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People will always experience trauma from disease, accidents, natural disasters, and human cruelty. But by reducing trauma in this generation, and the next, and the next, we can stop adding to the global burden of trauma that humanity is suffering. 

We are familiar with Gross Domestic Product as a measure of economic development. Similar indices measure democracy, peace, human development, and human rights. I am particularly inspired by Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index, which has now been applied to countries around the world. Gross National Happiness evaluates individual, social, and governmental domains that contribute to well-being and create the conditions for people to thrive. 

To recognize and address the burden of trauma and the benefits of reducing trauma, MAPS will set itself to developing a national metric for trauma, and we will use it to monitor our success. This approach will of course consider access to approved, effective treatments supported by the tens of thousands of well-trained practitioners that will be needed to deliver those treatments. It will also be multidisciplinary, considering the many factors that support a reduction in trauma exposure in communities and nations. 

This National Trauma Index will help us measure our impact, and it will also help us prioritize working within global communities that carry the largest burden of trauma and have the fewest resources for treatment. It will guide us to work with refugees, migrants, victims of violence and war, and victims of sexual trauma. This measure will guide our work to validate psychedelics as a tool for conflict resolution, as we see with the Israelis and Palestinians whose group work is complemented with ayahuasca. In places where therapists are rare, it will inform our work with local healers to develop culturally appropriate models for psychedelic-assisted healing.
This issue of the MAPS Bulletin encourages us to reach across generations and together envision a better future for those to come. It includes quotes from members of the Ashwana Hailey Legacy Circle, people who are making a commitment to a future beyond their own lives. Thank you for joining us in this mission toward a world with less trauma and less traumatized future generations. 

To healing for all, 
Rick Doblin, Ph.D.
MAPS Founder and President

Rick Doblin, PhD

Rick Doblin, Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He received his doctorate in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he wrote his dissertation on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics and marijuana and his Master’s thesis on a survey of oncologists about smoked marijuana vs. the oral THC pill in nausea control for cancer patients. His undergraduate thesis at New College of Florida was a 25-year follow-up to the classic Good Friday Experiment, which evaluated the potential of psychedelic drugs to catalyze religious experiences. He also conducted a thirty-four year follow-up study to Timothy Leary’s Concord Prison Experiment. Rick studied with Dr. Stanislav Grof and was among the first to be certified as a Holotropic Breathwork practitioner. His professional goal is to help develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana, primarily as prescription medicines but also for personal growth for otherwise healthy people, and eventually to become a legally licensed psychedelic therapist. He founded MAPS in 1986, and currently resides in Boston with his wife and three children.

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