While it may seem like an obvious topic, this special edition of the MAPS Bulletin treats the theme of psychedelics and the body in some less-than-obvious ways. In this issue, guest editor David Jay Brown shares with us some unique perspectives about how psychedelics challenge how we think about the connection between the mind and the body. Special issues of the Bulletin are intended to shed light on and generate discussion about the many ways that psychedelics can make a positive contribution to people’s lives beyond the specific therapeutic context. While past articles have focused on the use of psychedelics for spiritual, emotional, and creative practices, this issue discusses the use of psychedelics to enhance physical activities (such as yoga, sports, dance, bodywork, and fire-spinning) as well as to catalyze mind/body healing. This special issue is longer than past ones thanks to David Jay Brown himself, who made a generous donation to cover the extra printing costs associated with finding more outstanding articles than he or MAPS originally anticipated.
In accordance with our mission, MAPS devotes our precious resources to research exploring the psychotherapeutic applications of psychedelics and marijuana with the goal of developing them into legal prescription medicines. While this is our most important goal, it is by no means the only way that psychedelics have been used for millennia, nor is it the only way that millions of people are currently using them. The criminalization of psychedelics and marijuana, has led to their non-scientific and non-medical uses often being seen as examples of drug abuse. This special issue is meant to directly contradict that overly simplistic perspective. Indeed, even Dr. Nora Volkow, current Director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recently said, “Most people [who] take drugs are not addicted to drugs, [just] like most people who eat chocolate, even if they eat more than they should, are not addicted to chocolate.” While the reports in this issue are not in our view examples of drug abuse, neither are they practices we recommend that everyone try. Neither recommending nor condemning the uses of psychedelics described in this Bulletin, we simply intend to report as objectively and accurately as we can how they are being used. This is part of our overall mission to help our society to honestly acknowledge both the full range of potentials and the full range of risks associated with their use. It’s only after an honest and balanced assessment that our society will find the most appropriate ways to integrate these powerful substances into our culture, and this requires us to be mature enough to move beyond the blunt, misguided perspectives of prohibition. In a post-prohibition world (which may perhaps even come within our own lifetimes) stories like those in this special issue will become increasingly common. For now, they are rare—or at least rarely discussed in public settings—and MAPS is proud to contribute to increasing the breadth and depth of our cultural discussion surrounding psychedelics. If not for David Jay Brown’s generous personal donation, we’d be presenting a narrower and less comprehensive perspective. By the same token, if not for the generous personal donations from MAPS members, our research agenda would be significantly more limited. Psychedelics can enrich our lives in a wide range of ways. Yet because of the relatively few people with the motivation, courage, and resources to support our efforts and the lack of government, industry, and major foundation support for psychedelic research, your help is needed. Please consider donating to MAPS as generously as you can, regardless of whether that’s a lot or a little.
Together, we can inspire, astonish, and heal our world.
Rick Doblin, Ph.D., MAPS Founder and Executive Director