The Kranzke Psychedelic/Entheogenic Research Scholarship at CIIS

MAPS Bulletin Winter 2007: Vol. 17, No. 3 MAPS Fiscal Report

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At long last we are beginning to emerge from the dreary, dark ages of academic censorship, intellectual suppression and the politically motivated repression of psychedelic research and exploration. This evolving renaissance has spawned a wave of ground-breaking investigations in a panoply of psychological, medical, and spiritual disciplines. Organizations such as the Heffter Research Institute, the Beckeley Foundation, Cures not Wars, and MAPS have helped open doors that have been locked and shuttered for too many years.

In an interview with Albert Hofmann, PhD, Charles Grob, MD, asked the discoverer of LSD, “Do you believe it is possible to re-establish psychedelic research as a respectable field?” Dr. Hofmann replied, “I think there are many good signs. After years of silence there have recently been some investigations in Switzerland, Germany, and the United States. I have enjoyed meeting with Rick Doblin and Professor David Nichols and I think both of their organizations are doing fine work. Their approach appears to be quite different than that of some of their predecessors from several decades ago.”

In this new climate of relative openness and informed inquiry, a wide range of expansive studies are springing forward, brimming with paradigm challenging questions and useful applications for these time-honored healing tools. Yet, those of us emboldened to look deeply into these questions continue to face the challenge of obtaining available funding and securing governmental approval. The genie is out of the bottle again. How will we choose to dance with the cosmic serpent this time?

Enter Robert J. Barnhart, the indefatigable philanthropist behind the Robert Joseph and Wilhelmina Ann Kranzke Psychedelic/Entheogenic Research Scholarship. Robert chose to honor his birth-parents with this inspirational award. Robert’s parents divorced when he was still a toddler and his mother married again to Joe Barnhart who then adopted young Robert. Robert speaks with an obvious affection for his parents. He describes his mother Wilhelmina as from a “well- to- do background, who was incredibly sweet and caring” and his father Robert Kranzke as “a wild German-Irish Catholic boy from the wrong side of the tracks.” As a teenager, Barnhart ingested some legendary ‘window pane’ LSD which precipitated a “classic psychedelic and spiritual experience” that changed his life. Instantly, he recognized a profound “sense of connection and that the fundamental reality is…one of love.” Robert began to recognize that these substances/medicines/tools are “a channel and a doorway, and can be catalysts toward a state of grace.”

A friend told him about the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), and after extensive correspondence with Rick Doblin, who confirmed CIIS’ connections with the venerable psychedelic researchers Stan Grof and Ralph Metzner, Robert decided to endow this remarkable scholarship at CIIS. Barnhart’s intention was (and is) for the Kranzke award to provide an opportunity, and to lend encouragement to psychedelic scholars “who are engaged in solid, rigorous research and also committed to undoing the stifling repression of the last few decades … with the intention to bring, in as broad and unrestricted way as possible, this field of study out into the open.”

It seems natural that Robert Barnhart would find a receptive home for this scholarship at CIIS, which has a long and storied association with original thinkers, philosophers, innovators and pioneers in the fields of psychology, philosophy, spiritual disciplines, and consciousness research. Great illustrious lights such as Alan Watts, Huston Smith, Richard Tarnas, Ralph Metzner, Terence McKenna, and Stanislav Grof have been key actors in the CIIS narrative. This past August, I had the pleasure of a conversation with CIIS President Joseph Subbiondo in his comfortable office on the campus in San Francisco. In response to my questions regarding CIIS’ mind-set and setting (if you will) for the Kranzke scholarship, President Subbiondo enthusiastically replied that, “Research and inquiry into psychedelics is now (again) of interest to scholars in higher education; it is not something that has to be conducted in secret or underground. Stan Grof will tell you ‘the sensationalism is over’ and we are brought back to ‘can this help?’ which is a good question. We in higher education are asking better questions!”

Historically, academia has not always been a receptive environment for psychedelic research. The subjective and unpredictable nature of this work has not commonly been a comfortable fit for the hide-bound traditional ivy covered walls, or the ivory tower of the entrenched educational establishment.

From my personal experiences as a graduate student in CIIS’ Clinical Psychology program, and through the positive encouragement I have received for my dissertation research examining the efficacy of ibogaine as a treatment for opiate addiction, I can attest that CIIS provides an environment where there is innately less resistance to this area of research than in most universities. President Subbiondo agrees, stating that this free flow of ideas is “not just pertaining to the subject of psychedelics, but what makes CIIS distinct is that we often look at subjects that other institutions (for whatever reason) may not look at as openly, but with the same degree of academic rigor as other centers of higher learning. This is why I am especially grateful to Robert Barnhart because he has made it possible for students and faculty to conduct research of such a high quality.” Joe adds that,, “What I love about being at this institution as President (or in any capacity) is to be in a community that is so open and so consistently strong in sustaining and endorsing multiple and alternate ways of knowing.” What is salient from my discussion with Joe Subbiondo is that psychedelic/entheogenic research has evolved now to the point that it is not only accepted and encouraged, but is actually becoming part of the mainstream of academia.

The outstanding faculty who have stepped forward as active and ardent members of the Kranzke Scholarship Selection Committee also exemplify CIIS’ commitment to openness. Committee Chair Frank Echenhofer, PhD, a professor in the APA-accredited Clinical Psychology program (and a noted psychedelic researcher), has been a mentor for several Kranzke Scholars. He says that the Kranzke “is an inspiration and validation for students who have previously been marginalized and unsupported.” Dr. Echenhofer, a committee member for six years, has witnessed the tangible benefits this important award has provided for CIIS students. “CIIS in general and the Kranzke in particular instills a camaraderie in spirit with revered, highly respected genuine elders in psychedelic/entheogenic exploration such as Grof and Metzner…and this has a powerful and positive effect on students.”

Sean Kelly, PhD, is a Kranzke Scholarship Committee member, as well as Professor and Program Director of the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at CIIS. Dr. Kelly is interested in the evolution of consciousness, and he believes that “entheogens can be a bridge from modern western civilizations’ current phase of disenchantment with natural systems, to the traditional world-views that see the world as sacred, with human beings as full participants in the sacred dance of the cosmos.” Dr. Kelly adds that research projects such as those the Kranzke supports “can lead people to strategies to face and move through this critical period in human history, the exploration of these non-ordinary states might give us access to insights and resources that might not readily be available.”

Janis Phelps, PhD, Professor of Clinical Psychology and the newest member of the Kranzke Scholarship Committee, explained that, “In the current era of fear and hesitation regarding exploration of altered states of consciousness, there are valiant pockets of scholarly research being conducted through institutions such as MAPS, Heffter, and CIIS. The US is fortunate to have a visionary citizen the likes of Robert Barnhart, who has supported research on psychedelics, healing and the transformation of consciousness through the Kranzke scholarships. The Kranzke research at CIIS is being conducted by dedicated doctoral students whose published dissertations disseminate entheogen research data to internet sites which are easily accessible to scholars and the general public alike. By dispelling anxieties and misunderstandings about the therapeutic use of these psychoactive substances, research programs such as the Kranzke have shed light on entheogens as sacraments of emotional and spiritual transformation.”

CIIS Professor Emeritus CIIS Ralph Metzner, PhD, is a former member of the Kranzke committee. He says that, “The Kranzke scholarships at CIIS … are to my knowledge unique in higher education, in their explicit focus on furthering research with consciousness-expanding plants and substances. Since the practices involved are often of questionable legal status, CIIS students are obviously unable to administer such substances. However, nothing prevents graduate students from studying the use of psychedelic or entheogenic plants by various people, as well as other catalysts for heightened states of awareness, as long as the usual legal and ethical guidelines for research with human subjects are observed.”

The raison d’etre of the Kranzke award is, of course, the research itself. We have selected six abstracts and summaries from a few of the Kranzke scholars that express only a wee bit of the infinite potential and the universal curiosity about what Hegel, or more recently the late, great Terence McKenna might call, ‘the Other.’ If these entheogenic tools are, indeed, the ‘keys to the kingdom,’ perhaps these dedicated researchers are actually modern psychonaut-locksmiths opening the vaults to previously hidden treasures. Perhaps reading about these explorations will inspire the next wave of researchers to grow into a tsunami of entheogenic psychedelic seekers and scientists!

Stanislav Grof, MD, discusses the importance of this work in his latest collection of papers, “New Perspectives in Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychotherapy: Observations from Modern Consciousness Research.” In the chapter, “Psychedelic Research: Past, Present, and Future,” Grof reminds us that, “In one of my early books, I suggested that the potential significance of LSD and other psychedelics for psychiatry and psychology was comparable to the value the microscope has for biology and medicine or the telescope has for astronomy. My later experience with psychedelics only confirmed this initial impression. These substances function as unspecific amplifiers that increase the cathexis (energetic charge) associated with the deep unconscious contents of the psyche and make them available for conscious processing. This unique property of psychedelics makes it possible to study psychological undercurrents that govern our experiences and behaviors to a depth that cannot be matched by any other method and tool available in modern mainstream psychiatry and psychology… This new knowledge could become an integral part of a comprehensive new scientific paradigm of the twenty-first century.” Grof adds that what is most encouraging is that “researchers of the younger generation in the United States, Switzerland, and other countries have in recent years been able to obtain official permission to start programs of psychedelic therapy, involving LSD, psilocybin, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), methylenedioxy-methamphetomine (MMDA), ibogaine, and ketamine. I hope that this is the beginning of a renaissance of interest in psychedelic research that will eventually return these extraordinary tools into the hands of responsible therapists.”

To facilitate the continuation of this renaissance, Robert Barnhart has taken steps to ensure that the Kranzke Psychedelic/Entheogenic Research Scholarship will be endowed and continue in perpetuity at CIIS. I am confident that I speak for all entheogenic researchers, audacious psychonauts, past and future winners of the Kranzke Scholarship, and the entire MAPS community in expressing our deep gratitude to Robert J. Barnhart for his heartfelt generosity, and his oracular vision! Robert… Thank You!

So, dear reader, take a few minutes and read these research summaries. I think you will be impressed with the diversity of interests, the skillful and professional scientific method, and the researchers’ obvious devotion to, and concern for, their invaluable subjects. Enjoy!

Guided and Structured Use of Entheogenic Substances in Western Culture.

For my doctoral dissertation in the clinical psychology program at CIIS I looked at therapeutic psycho-spiritual issues in guided, group settings (what Metzner has called “hybrid shamanic psychotherapeutic rituals”) utilizing psychedelic substances. These groups are hybrid in that they incorporate some shamanic or indigenous techniques with a western psychological orientation.

My interest in these groups began with my work with Pablo, the guide in one of the groups analyzed in my dissertation. Pablo’s work was an adaptation of the earlier work of Mexican psychiatrist Salvadore Roquette. (Roquette had a psychiatric background and incorporated the indigenous teachings of Mazotec Indian healer Maria Sabina.) I was always interested in the development of the varying approaches of different groups as well as the implications for results.

My interest was further piqued by the fact that because these groups are underground, research had been minimal to non-existent since the 1960s. There has been sizable literature on the psychedelic experience, but other than the cut-short research in the 1960s, most of it has been personal, theoretical and anecdotal.

My research reiterated and developed some familiar points such as the importance of preparation, integration, and the complex dynamics of the relationships between participants and guides, etc., as well as some less familiar themes that point toward future research questions, such as: what is the psycho-spiritual and therapeutic difference in the impact of one medicine from another, the relationship of ecstatic or transpersonal experiences to the psychological. Another important focus was the relationship of the psychedelic experience to work with addictions.

With the support and encouragement of a school like the California Institute of Integral Studies in combination with the financial support of Robert Barnhart’s generous gift of the Kranzke endowment, the psychedelic experience has, since 1998, been regularly researched at the graduate level. Thanks to CIIS and Mr. Barnhart’s creative and generous idea, there is now a significant and growing body of psychedelic research residing in one place. •

(Roger has a chapter, co-written with David Lukoff, in the new two volume set, Psychedelic Medicine, edited by Winkleman and Roberts.)

Effects of Calea Sacatechichi on the Human Electroencephalogram: A Single Subject Design EEG Gamma Coherence and Other Correlates of Subjective Reports During Ayahuasca Experiences

I was supported by the Kranzke research scholarship twice; once for a project studying the effects of calea zacatechichi, and the second for my dissertation research with ayahuasca. The scholarships were very important in allowing me to move forward with the research I was doing with Dr. Frank Echenhofer at CIIS. Brainwave (EEG) research requires a lot of lab equipment and supplies that would have been prohibitive without this type of financial support.

I began with an interest in researching visual imagery and lucid dreaming. I came to understand how difficult it was to lucid dream on command in a laboratory setting. At the time, I did not have the available connections with expert dreamers who could be flown in for such an undertaking. I decided to get some help in the task of inducing lucidity by using shamanic dream-inducing (oneirogenic) herbs. Calea zacatechichi was chosen. It was at that time that we came to understand that the Kranzke scholarship was available to support such work, since our interest included the assistance of an entheogen.

As it turned out, the calea research did not prove fruitful and it was therefore decided to move into researching a much stronger imagery experience that could be induced using psychedelic substances. I was also becoming fascinated with the subjective reports of people using ayahuasca and intrigued by the comparison of the ayahuasca journey with lucid dreaming. The Kranzke scholarship then supported my research with ayahuasca, which became my dissertation work and was later published in an abbreviated form in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. The abstract from the journal article and the calea research are posted on the MAPS Website:

The scholarship also sparked further good fortune, in that by receiving it, the CIIS administration became aware of the project and made a further financial contribution. MAPS contributed financial support as well. With this combined support, we were able to take the project to the Amazon jungle for proper field research. I was very grateful for the generous support and continue to be grateful that the Kranzke scholarship is available for current students.

I am now in private practice as a clinical psychologist in Southern California. I use what I have learned through my use and research with psychedelics and lucid dreaming to inform my work with my clients. I also continue to do EEG research with entheogens. For example, I just recently led a panel at the annual conference of the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research. We presented our pilot research on EEG findings and subjective reports of salvia divinorum experiences. •

Touched By Spirit: A Heuristic Study of Healing Experiences in Peyote Ceremonies

This dissertation is a qualitative, psychological investigation exploring the experience of healing in peyote ceremonies using Moustakas’ (1990) heuristic research methodology. The unique contribution of this research project is the use of a psychological approach to the study of peyote ceremonies that honors people’s subjective experience. This study draws on interview data collected from nine participants of peyote ceremonies. The co-researchers were five men and four women in the age range between their late twenties and early sixties. Five of the co-researchers were Euro-Americans, three Native Americans and one mixed EuroNative American.

The data analysis resulted in the identification of seven core themes of the experience of healing in peyote ceremonies. These were: spiritual connection; enhanced self-esteem; emotional release, sense of community; physical recovery and support; insight and heightened awareness; and enhanced environmental sensitivity. Participants in peyote ceremonies reported becoming aware of a deeper spiritual reality within as well as around them. The peyote ceremonies instilled in them a sense of sacredness and reverence for life. They also reported increased mental clarity and a sense of heightened awareness. On the emotional level they reported the release of repressed feelings, a new level of self-acceptance and heightened self-esteem. They stressed the importance of the experience of solidarity and fellowship, of love, unity and belonging in the circle. Participants in peyote ceremonies also reported sudden cures of diseases and physical ailments, as well as being able to overcome drug and alcohol addiction. They also reported an increased awareness of their connection to the natural world and an increased environmental concern as a result of their participation in peyote ceremonies.

By providing accurate accounts of healing experiences and in-depth portrayals of individual cases this study aspires to contribute to a better understanding of the therapeutic potential of peyote ceremonies and the religious use of entheogens in general. It is the primary researcher’s hope to thereby stimulate a renewed dialogue on the constructive use of entheogens in contemporary society. •

The Healing Power of the Icaros: A Phenomenological Study

The focus of this study is to explore the phenomenon of the healing with an icaro during an ayahuasca ceremony in the tradition of Peruvian mestizo vegetalismo, as well as to identify key aspects of the musical perception to which healing meanings are attributed.

Participants in this study are five men and women with extensive experience with brew in this context, each of whom was able to identify the icaro in the recording of the ceremony where the phenomenon emerged. The data collection procedures include a written report of the experience, and two in-depth interviews. The analysis employs the method of Descriptive Phenomenology for Psychology, as developed by Giorgi (1985; 1987; 1997; 1998; 2000).

Ten months of fieldwork in the areas of Tarapoto and Pucallpa were required to collect the data. Thirty-seven ceremonies were sound-recorded, with a total of 239 attendees. The emergence of the phenomenon was charted within the demographic parameters of sex and age. A formal musical analysis of the icaros identified by participants is included in the study as complementary data. Additional data collected during the fieldwork include 120 hours of recordings of icaros sung by different ayahuasqueros, and in-depth interviews of six of them on their perspectives of how the icaros heal.

The study is expected to be completed by December 2007. While I originally planned for six months of field work, it ended up being ten months of intensive research, personal challenge, and a firsthand understanding of this tradition-both its social context and cosmology. The financial support of the Kranzke grant was invaluable in allowing the completion of that stage, as well as opening compelling research possibilities beyond this study. •

Susana Bustos is a clinical psychologist and music therapist from Chile. Her work on drug abuse and on the therapeutic aspects of expanded states of consciousness dovetailed with her passion for music and song during her first journey to the Peruvian Amazon in 1989, where she experienced an icaro sung by Rose Giove, one of the founders of Takiwasi.

The Ayahuasquero and Personality: A Study

The Kranzke scholarship was instrumental in helping complete my study of the personality traits and characteristics of frequent ayahuasca drinkers in North America. This research used the most accepted and validated of the personality assessments, the MMPI and MMPI-2. This research built on previous findings on personality done with smaller, less-known measures of personality conducted with frequent drinkers of ayahuasca done in South America within the Uni De Vegetal (UDV), the first and largest of the religions that have formed their own communities centered on the use of ayahuasca. By studying a North American population that was not living within or closely tied to participation in a religious community, it was hoped that a clearer view of the personalities of ayahuasca drinkers outside of these religious and cultural settings could be created. Thirty-four frequent North American drinkers of ayahuasca were administered the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2). The MMPI personality description for the group was within normal limits of personality. The responses of the ayahuasca drinkers were not found to have a high correlation with the scores of drug and alcohol abusers. All scores, with the exception of low aggression, were within normal ranges of personality. No overall difference between the high and low use groups was found. The study found personality traits of North American ayahuasca drinkers to be within normal limits of personality. The study strongly suggests that frequent drinking of ayahuasca in the North American population has produced no effects on their personalities of clinical concern.

I started this project in an attempt to give something back to a field that I had found to be instrumental to the healing of many people. I felt that to be able to add one small piece of solid research information to what was known about ayahuasca would be a way of giving something back to the community that could be built on by others in the continuing effort to evaluate the effects and healing potential of ayahuasca. At the time the Kranzke scholarship award notice arrived, my dissertation chair and I had discovered that instead of working with just 10 main scales of the MMPI-2, we were probably going to have to expand the study to 123 scales. At the time I was hand-scoring the tests, and had spent weeks on these 10 scales, and now I was faced with hand scoring and calculating over thirty-five thousand data points. The scholarship allowed all participants’ responses to be sent for computerized scoring and extended analysis by the developer of the MMPI-2, saving many hundreds of hours of labor, and producing clean, error-free data. The money paid for the statistical software used to analyze the data, create graphical displays, and make it understandable and presentable. When our main computer was hit by a virus that made it unusable, we were able to replace it, restore the data and move forward. The scholarship paid for paper, printer cartridges, stamps, an editor and filing fees for the completed dissertation.

The Kranzke scholarship allowed this research project to move forward through delays and setbacks that, although normal to the research process, often mean many projects are not completed or fully developed. The scholarship helped give me the ability to contribute something back to the community, and it is my hope that this spirit of gratitude and generosity may continue. •

Psychology Psychological Variables Predicting Transformative and Difficult Unresolved Ayahuasca Experiences: A Pilot Study

This pilot study aims to explore a possible connection between distinct psychological variables and subjective reports or themes experienced during shamanic ayahuasca journeys. While Westerners report ayahuasca elicits integrative experiences for journeyers, some re-traumatization occurs in a minority of cases. This investigation attempts to identify a psychometrically sound and reliable method for predicting the quality of the experiences people may have on ayahuasca and possibly other kinds of hallucinogenic drugs used in healing or experimental settings. The natural extension of this work is in the area of harm reduction. Investigation into the mysteries of psychedelic/entheogenic plants and substances has enjoyed a tenuous resurgence in recent years. Developing a clinically valid and reliable method for predicting a participant’s reaction to a psychedelic substance has potentially vast implications for the acceptance and proliferation of research with these substances.

I am truly honored to be a 2007 recipient of the Krankze Scholarship. At the awards banquet I was afforded an opportunity to speak briefly about the scholarship and what it means to young researchers and the field of psychedelic studies. This money represents commitment that grassroots supporters like Robert Barnhart have to the cause of psychedelic research. Though organizations like MAPS have made important contributions in the public arena, it is really the people behind the scenes, with their courage and tenacity, who despite overwhelming odds continue to champion the use of entheogens as important methods of healing.

In person, Robert Barnhart is a kind and thoughtful man whose easy-going nature belies the impact he has had on my research and that of other Kranzke winners past and present. He allows the sum of our efforts to be greater than the individual parts. •