Daniel Greig – Measuring Wisdom, Mindfulness, and More in Psychedelic Research

Daniel Greig - Toronto

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In this episode of Psychedelics, Kyle and Joe talk with Daniel Greig. Daniel is a student at the University of Toronto and psychedelic community organizer working with CSSDP and the Toronto Psychedelic Society.

We go all over the map but some notable things discussed in this episode include:

  • Measuring wisdom
  • Mindfulness
  • The promise of psychedelics
  • Future research opportunities
  • How friendly the University of Toronto is to psychedelic research
  • Interesting philosophical overlaps with psychedelics and occultism
  • and much more!!


Show Notes:

  • How did you get involved in researching psychedelics?
    • He never had to hide or be discreet about his research interests.
    • People are actually interested in his research work.
    • Canada just legalized marijuana countrywide.
    • He started experimenting with psychedelics when he was around 18.
    • He was able to feel positive emotions again after psychedelics.
  • Are there any recent studies that have you excited?
    • There was a publication in 2017 that looks at the role of mental imagery under the influence of LSD.
    • Daniel is interested in “what is the function of the imagination.”
    • What you get on LSD is similar to what happens during REM dreaming.
    • We’re not very in touch with our imaginative experiences.
  • How are you viewing mystical experiences?
    • Mental imagery is just reverse perception.
    • Mental imagery begins in higher processes and sends information down.
    • We share the faculty and functions of imagery with other animals.
  • How can you engage in some of this mental imagery?
    • There’s a process called active imagination.
    • Practicing active imagination helps you make the most of imagistic experiences.
    • It can be helpful to have someone else guide you through the images.
    • The most important thing is – is it effective?
  • Do you think what’s happening on the physiological level in the mind is a therapeutic part of psychedelics or imaginative?
    • It’s different for everybody.
    • For people with depression, it’s important to get the physiological tuned up.
    • For others, it’s the imagination that unlocks other things.
    • The developmental line we should all be orienting ourselves toward is wisdom.
  • The relationship between rationality in psychedelics.
    • You have to ask is psychedelics make you more rational?
    • Mindfulness can be seen as a form of rationality that makes you open to information.
    • Daniel talks about the computational mind, the algorithmic mind, and the reflective mind.
    • Authoritarianism is related to people’s fear.
  • Can psychedelics promote irrational thinking?
    • Yes, it’s one of the dark sides of the unitive experience.
    • There’s the feeling that you really know what’s true, but you can’t really articulate it.
    • Don’t try to annihilate yourself so nature can flow through you, elevate yourself.
  • How can people get involved?
    • Follow your heart and don’t disguise what you want to do.
    • Be enthusiastic and also correct.
    • Try to emphasize academic rigor.


Episode Quotes

We’re very much detached from our own traditions here in the west.

Just imagining practicing something can have just as much of an effect of your performance than actually practicing it.

You have to bring your insights back into the community to be an effective member of society.

There’s a strong relationship between wisdom and psychedelics.
Without intervention, life will tend toward suffering.


Links

Image result for ken wilber lines of development



About Daniel Greig

Daniel is a student of Cognitive Science and Philosophy at the University of Toronto. His focus is on mysticism, magic and the psychedelic experience through the lens of psychology and neuroscience. Daniel also works with the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP). He has also spoken at a number of conferences and educational events in Toronto on the subject of psychedelics and philosophy.

Kyle and Joe – Intro to Transpersonal Psychology


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In this episode of Psychedelics Today, Kyle and Joe provide a basic introduction to the field of Transpersonal Psychology and a brief overview of Stanislav Grof’s theories and work, including the Basic Perinatal Matrices.

What is Transpersonal Psychology?

The following excerpt is taken from Kyle’s undergraduate capstone project paper, “The Psychology of Extraordinary Experiences.”

The word transpersonal  can be defined as “beyond one’s self or ego.” The catalyst for the re-emergence of this field was fueled by heady days of the 1960’s which included social change, self-exploration, and a radical shift in consciousness.

What exactly is the field of transpersonal psychology and psychiatry that was developed out of the events of the late 1960s? The Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology defines these terms as follows:

Transpersonal psychiatry, therefore, is psychiatry that seeks to foster development, correct developmental arrests, and heal traumas at all levels of development, including transpersonal levels. It extends the standard biopsychosocial model of psychiatry to a biopsychosocial-spiritual one in which the later stages of human development are concerned with development beyond, or transcendent of, the individual….Transpersonal psychiatry and psychology address that universal aspect of human consciousness that is transpersonal experience and do not propound the belief of any one religion. (Scotton, 1996, p. 4-5)

Ultimately, transpersonal psychology allows the ability to view different cultural perspectives about reality. This can be achieved by observing and understanding various cultural beliefs as being a valid representation of that specific culture’s known reality (Scotton, 1996).

Transpersonal psychiatry allows not only that other vantage points (other societies) construct equally valid realities, but also that reality can be constructed in more positive directions with adequate techniques and personal development. (Scotton, 1996, p. 6)

The word transpersonal was first coined and used by William James in a lecture in 1905 (Chinen, 1996). During the mid-1960s a group of humanistic psychologists got together on behalf of Anthony Sutich, a pioneer in the field of transpersonal psychology, and the founding editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology. The meetings were held at Sutich’s home in California and consisted of topics that were of concern and dealt with issues that were known as transhumanistic, meaning beyond humanistic psychology (Chinen, 1996). Abraham Maslow was one of the main guiding participants for these meetings, and also a pioneer at the time for his theory of peak experiences. Peak experiences dealt with experiences that an individual might have that brings a sense of clarity or awakening to the person’s life. Stanislav Grof suggested the use of the term transpersonal at one of the meetings with Sutich, Maslow and the Austrian psychiatrist, Victor Frankl, for the newly emerging field of psychology soon to be known as the fourth force, or transpersonal psychology (Chinen, 1996). The meetings at Sutich’s house finally led to the announcement of the new field of transpersonal psychology in 1968, which separated itself from the humanistic approach of psychology (Chinen, 1996). The purpose of this new branch of psychology was to explore non-ordinary states of consciousness and spirituality.

Sutich is held accountable for the following original mission statement that is in the first issue of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology:

The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology is concerned with the publication of theoretical and applied research, original contributions, empirical papers, articles and studies in meta-needs, ultimate values, unitive consciousness, peak experience, ecstasy, mystical experience, B-values, essence, bliss, awe, wonder, self-actualization, ultimate meaning, transcendence of the self, spirit, sacralization of everyday life, oneness, cosmic awareness, cosmic play, individual and species wide synergy, maximal interpersonal encounter, transcendental phenomena; maximal sensory awareness, responsiveness and expression; and related concepts, experiences and activities. As a statement of purpose, this formulation is to be understood as subject to optional individual or group interpretations, either wholly or in part, with regard to the acceptance of its content as essentially naturalistic, theistic, supernaturalistic, or any other designated classification. (Chinen, 1996, p. 10-11)

Basically, there are three points to this mission statement. The first is to have a focus on concerning issues that deal with experiences that are traditionally classified as mystical or religious. Second, there must be emphasizes on the use of empirical and scientific studies to help understand said experiences. And third, they seek to hold and suspend any beliefs regarding whether said experiences or phenomena are to be classified or dismissed as supernatural or not (Chinen, 1996).

References:

Chinen, A. B. (1996). The emergence of transpersonal psychiatry. In B. W. Scotton, A. B. Chinen, & J. R. Battista (Eds.), Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology (pp. 9-18). New York, NY, US: Basic Books.

Scotton, Bruce. (1996). Introduction and definition of transpersonal psychiatry. Scotton, Bruce W., & Chinen, Allen B., & Battista, John R. (Eds.), Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology (pp. 3-18). New York, NY: Basic Books.


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Other Resources


 

What is Breathwork?

Lenny Gibson – A brief history of psychedelics in the Western world

 

Dr Ben Malcolm – Ibogaine for Opiate Addiction Research Update


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In this episode of Psychedelics Today, host Joe Moore interviews Dr. Benjamin Malcolm, professor of pharmacy at the Western University School of Pharmacy. The discussion revolves around ibogaine, alkaloids, and addiction therapy solutions.

3 Key Points:

  1. Opioid addiction and death related to overdose is a public health epidemic in the United States
  2. Addiction may be rooted in loneliness, boredom, lack of recreation, trauma, pain or disconnection
  3. Ibogaine is able to reduce physical symptoms and cravings of opioid withdrawal and usually provides the user with insight into why they developed an addiction.


Show Notes

  • Dr. Benjamin Malcolm discusses psychedelic alkaloids that have the potential to treat addictions.

  • When conducting research with human subjects, an Institutional Review Board (IRB) should review the project proposal to ensure the study is ethical

  • There are risks involved in taking in ibogaine that can be used to treat addiction with deaths due to cardiac arrhythmias reported

  • In the United States, opioid overdose claims over 100 lives every day

  • Ibogaine is illicit in the US and unregulated in other parts of the world

  • Psychedelics that bind to 5HT2B receptors could cause a thickening of the heart valve if taken on a chronic basis, psychedelics taken intermittently are not likely to have a significant effect

  • Many newer synthetic psychedelics have not been studied in animals or humans, leading to the potential for unknown adverse reactions

  • Internet surveys about psychedelics usually have a selection bias due to those enthusiastic about the subject to fill out the survey while those that had negative experience may not fill it out or even access websites or forums where surveys are distributed

  • Mescaline is a classic psychedelic (found in San Pedro or Peyote cactus) with much anecdotal evidence of benefit that has not been the featured in any well designed human research

  • If psychedelics become approved drugs for medical use then managing transitions between traditional pharmaceutical modalities and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies will be required and may be an important area of pharmacist involvement in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies

  • Dr. Benjamin Malcolm can be reached through his website spiritpharmacist.com

     


    About Benjamin Malcolm, PharmD, MPH

   

Professionally, I teach psychopharmacology and clinical psychiatric pharmacy, practice as a clinical specialist in psychiatric pharmacy, and perform research on psychoactive drugs.

On a more personal note, I’m a lover of nature, exercise, music, being, and consciousness. I’m passionate about cognitive liberty, self-realization, and psychedelic drugs.

I envision a society in which access to psychedelic drugs in a variety of safe and supported settings is available for purposes of psychospiritual well-being, personal development, ceremonial sacraments, and treatment of mental illness.