As I write this introduction to our special theme edition Bulletin on Psychedelics and Education, it’s been 28 years since I founded the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in April 1986. Over that period of time, most of our communications with MAPS members and the general public have been about the struggles of the day. We primarily report on the progress—or in our early years, lack of progress—that we are making towards our mission of mainstreaming the medical and other beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana and creating a post-prohibition world. These essential, dramatic, and time-bound dispatches from MAPS’ front lines tell a remarkable and gradually unfolding story of social transformation. Like the daily newspaper, however, the bulk of MAPS’ communications will rarely ever be read again, save perhaps by future historians trying to better understand how we managed to obtain FDA approval for the therapeutic uses of psychedelics and marijuana in the midst of global prohibition.
As a counterpoint to the ephemeral nature of most of our communications, we’ve developed these special theme issues of the MAPS Bulletin focusing on the contributions of psychedelics and marijuana to various broad areas of modern life including science, art, sexuality, creativity, psychology, ecology, and now education. In January 2014, we also released the anthology Manifesting Minds, in which we’ve collected some of the best articles from our theme issues that we’ve published over the years.
It is with pride and pleasure that we now present for your thoughtful and leisurely consideration this special theme issue of the MAPS Bulletin on Psychedelics and Education. While the word “psychedelic” generally brings to mind a certain type of unusual experience of transitory nature, the word “education” implies learning that persists over longer periods of time. Education can be the consequence and outcome of psychedelic experiences, just as lasting personality growth and transformation can be the outcome of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.
MAPS’ challenge is to help our culture appreciate psychedelics’ immense potential. We encourage society to permit psychedelics to emerge from the underground by demonstrating in multiple ways that their unique acute effects are only part of the story—and in many ways the smaller part of the story—and that their educational and therapeutic benefits can persist over time. This special theme issue is one of the many communication tools we’re using to focus attention on how benefits linger after psychedelic experiences fade, rather than on how psychedelics can dazzle, frighten, soothe, and mystify.
This special theme edition of the MAPS Bulletin contains articles about how we teach future psychedelic psychotherapists, which educational paths to take when embarking on a career in psychedelic science or medicine, and how students and new community organizations are working to end the global war on drugs. We’ve also included updates on our psychedelic harm reduction program, an overview of psychedelic education on the Web and social media, intimate personal reflections on psychedelics as educational tools from both a police cadet and a former prisoner, and more.
Preparing these special issues about enduring themes is a refreshing contrast to MAPS’ primary focus on strategy and tactics in both scientific and political contexts. We hope you enjoy pondering the deeper issues raised by the authors of the articles in this Bulletin. We also hope that you are inspired to engage with renewed energy in our shared struggle to mainstream psychedelics and marijuana at this time of great need and opportunity. With your continued support of MAPS, we’ll work together to build a healthier, more spiritual world.
Rick Doblin, Ph.D.
MAPS Founder and Executive Director