The New Yorker – Out Loud: Psychedelics as Therapy

Summary: Michael Pollan talks to Amelia Lester of The New Yorker’s "Out Loud" podcast about clinical research into the benefits of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy to treat addiction, reduce anxiety associated with life-threatening illness, improve meditation practice, and facilitate positive changes in personality. Pollan speaks about the role of psychedelics in science, medicine, spirituality, and policy, highlighting insights gleaned from his interviews with leading psychedelic researchers.

Listen to the podcast here.

In the nineteen-fifties and sixties, researchers explored the therapeutic effects of LSD on alcoholism, depression, and a number of other conditions. Then the counterculture came along, LSD became a recreational drug, and the research dried up. In this week’s magazine, Michael Pollan writes about a new wave of researchers who are using hallucinogenic drugs to help terminally ill cancer patients cope with the fear of death.

On Out Loud, Pollan joins host Amelia Lester, the executive editor of, to discuss the history of psychedelics research, the difference between a recreational psychedelic journey and a therapeutic one, and why he finds the effects of these drugs so intriguing. Whereas we don’t typically trust the insights we have when we’re drunk or dreaming, Pollan says, patients who take hallucinogens report having “a sturdy, authoritative experience.” “It takes us into an interesting and difficult to navigate intellectual space,” he says. “It’s very exciting territory.”