PTSF77 – Progress and Context, with Jesse Gould of the Heroic Hearts Project

In this week’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Joe and Kyle are joined by return guest Jesse Gould: Founder and President of the Heroic Hearts Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit helping military veterans find healing through psychedelic-assisted therapy. 

Gould discusses the acceleration of the Heroic Hearts Project over the last few years and the need for UK and Canadian divisions, SB-519’s progress and how its pause can be seen as a good thing, Oregon’s trajectory and how what happens there will be a model to build on, how the container around a drug experience can make all the difference, how silly it is to put psilocybin through the same research ringer we put new drugs through, and his feelings on leaving Afghanistan and the trauma soldiers are already experiencing as a result. 

And he talks about new allies and the many projects they’re involved in, how we need to look at what models haven’t worked and create ones that do, and the biggest challenges he sees right now: 1) creating more long-term, multidisciplinary, integration and community-based models of care, and 2) making sure that if these drugs go the medical, insurance-based route, we take care of the people who often fall through the cracks of those traditional systems. And he reminds us that while small failures are frustrating, it’s important to put things in context: Not every measure will be perfect and not every bill will pass, but slowly, many politicians are changing their minds, and every small step is just that- a stepping stone in the right direction. 

It costs about $4,000 to drastically change 1 veteran’s life through the Heroic Hearts Project, so please donate.  

Notable Quotes

“They have the initial reaction, they have the stigma of ‘those are bad, those are for crazy hippies.’ But when they see what’s going on right now (the science, the people that are actually being helped, especially veteran communities), for politicians; it’s hard for them to ignore. And to their credit, a lot of them will listen to the evidence, listen to what people are saying, listen to their constituents (which is the point of the public servant) and change their mind.” 

“A lot of enthusiasm around psychedelics is that they do a lot of the heavy lifting and they have all the fireworks and all the things that grab our attention, which can oftentimes overshadow all the small details before, after, and throughout that are absolutely essential.”

“The way to really empower voices and the way to make change, I think, is you have to heal trauma first. For people to actually come back, learn from their story, and help others, they need to be helped first. So that’s the first step that we’re trying to help out, because there’s nothing more powerful than a veteran that’s gone through a program, that’s been completely reaffirmed in their life.”

“A lot of the people you see that are dedicating their lives or are advocates, or changing, about-facing on this; it’s because they’ve had personal healing or healing within their family. You’re starting to get other groups (the ones that are looking to make money and all this other kind of stuff) but the core group and the ones that continue to be the loudest voices are still those that saw the light, that saw healing. And so I think that comes with sincerity of trying to push it forward.”


Psychedelics Today: Jesse Gould and Keith Abraham – Heroic Hearts Project: Connecting Veterans to Psychedelic Treatment

Psychedelics Today: Jesse Gould – Healing PTSD Veterans through Ayahuasca Retreat Opportunities

Heroic Hearts Project announces new study with Imperial College London into the physiological and psychological effects of psilocybin on veterans.

Instagram: @ayahuascanow

About Jesse Gould

Jesse Gould is Founder and President of the Heroic Hearts Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit pioneering psychedelic therapies for military veterans. After being deployed as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan three times, he founded the Heroic Hearts Project in 2017 to spearhead the acceptance and use of ayahuasca therapy as a means of addressing the current mental health crisis among veterans. The Heroic Hearts Project has raised over $350,000 in scholarships from donors including Dr. Bronner’s and partnered with the world’s leading ayahuasca treatment centers, as well as sponsoring psychiatric applications with the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Georgia. Jesse helps shape treatment programs and spreads awareness of plant medicine as a therapeutic method. He has spoken globally about psychedelics and mental health, and received accolades including being recognized as one of the Social Entrepreneurs To Watch For In 2020 by Cause Artist. Driven by a mission to help military veterans struggling with mental trauma, he is best known for his own inspiring battle with PTSD and his recovery through ayahuasca therapy. 

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PT262 – Carlene MacMillan, M.D. – Set, Setting, and Systems: Adding Insurance to the Conversation

In this episode, Kyle interviews psychiatrist, co-founder/CEO of Brooklyn Minds, and co-host of the Clubhouse show, New Frontiers: Carlene MacMillan, M.D.

MacMillan talks about the importance of systems: how there is a ton of work between FDA approval and actually getting drugs into the hands of the people who need them, and how we too often talk about the life-changing effects of psychedelics but not the importance of insurance companies being able to cover them (and having the infrastructure in place to handle it all). She talks about how many clinicians don’t want to offer ketamine because of costs but will offer Spravato due to insurance covering it, and how a colder, more clinical model of healthcare is exactly what many people are looking for.

And she discusses a lot more: How medicine needs to move from the procedure-based, fee-for-service model toward value-based care, why self-insured employers can be more flexible around mental health care, how the intentions of good people at insurance companies are halted by bureaucracy, the notion of nonprofits all being good (and for-profits all being bad), why public benefit companies are better for the future, why she’s worried we might see what we saw in medical cannabis again, and how we need to apply the same multidisciplinary approach we take in medicine toward our ideal vision of legal psychedelic care.

Notable Quotes

“Either it does nothing like it’s a bust, or it’s dramatic. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of: ‘Well, maybe it worked, I’m not sure.’ It’s really: ‘No, like, wow. I feel completely different. That suicidal voice in my head is just gone now.’ It’s just remarkable when it works.” 

“I hear more about the interesting science and trials, and I hear stuff about accessibility in terms of scholarships and nonprofits and grants and things like that, and I think that’s all very important. But I think if we really want this to be mainstream and widely part of the mental health toolkit, we need to also really focus in on this insurance piece.”

“I’m very much for decriminalization and regulation. I think if you look at the dangers of most of these drugs compared to alcohol, they are far safer than alcohol. And I don’t think that they should be for children and I think they should be regulated and in moderation, but I don’t find a criminal approach is at all productive. It doesn’t fit with how we think about any of this.”

“People can’t ignore that system part of the equation and we really do need to think about how payment models and clinic models are going to be ready. I think of it like: people are building the planes and we need to build the runways. And so I would encourage people to get in touch to start to build those runways and airports so that we’re ready. Because the planes are coming.” 


Instagram: @carlenemacmillanmd

​​Twitter: @CarleneMac

Instagram: @bklynminds

Twitter: @BKLYNMinds

Instagram: @asksphere

Twitter: @AskSphere

About Carlene MacMillan, M.D.

Carlene MacMillan, M.D. is the co-founder/CEO of Brooklyn Minds. She is a Harvard-trained adult and child psychiatrist who pioneers team-based and tech-enabled mental health care that helps individuals with complex psychiatric concerns live meaningful lives. She collaborates with stakeholders to build novel value-based (as opposed to volume-based) care models. Dr.MacMillan is also known for her role as the co-host of New Frontiers, an award-winning show on Clubhouse where mental health experts weigh in on aspects of our culture. She is an internationally recognized leader in Mentalization Based Treatment, collaborating with leaders at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. She is on the Clinical Advisory board of Osmind and a member of the Ketamine Taskforce for Access to Safe Care and Insurance Coverage. She is on the Clinical TMS Society Insurance Committee and is the co-Chair of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Consumer Issues Committee.

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PTSF76 – Spiritual Emergence and Healing

In this week’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Joe and Kyle sit down for a discussion spanning spiritual emergence, the concept of the transpersonal, and a simple but huge question: What is healing?

They dissect the concept of healing and how it relates to psychedelics and inner work: Is the psychedelic experience always healing? What needs to be done to turn traumatic experiences into catalysts? Is it fair to relate the psychedelic experience and post-experience integration work to surgery and the body healing on its own? Can we create a realistic and affordable model for retreat centers with built-in, long-term, communal support systems? How do we know when to trust the radical insights psychedelics may steer us toward? And how do we prepare for the changes in relationships they may create as well?

And they discuss plenty more as it relates to these topics: The difference between spiritual emergence and spiritual emergency, Ben Sessa’s idea of MDMA as an antibiotic for psychiatry, Ram Dass’ idea of not starting down a spiritual journey unless one intends on finishing it, the work of Ken Wilber, Erik Davis and the mysticism in Grateful Dead lyrics, the challenge of earthly expectations, consensus and compromise, decadent mysticism, and the concept of a spiritual quest itself as healing.

Notable Quotes

“Maybe that’s a good way of looking at it: You’re having a massive intervention and then you heal afterwards. My tendons were so thrashed before a lot of my surgeries that I needed the surgery and then I needed to heal. The surgery wasn’t the thing that triggered the healing, but it set up the initial conditions from which I could then heal.” -Joe

“Is there something about a spiritual quest that heals? I think, on a somewhat occasional basis, yes. …I think there’s something there. Intentionality and deep focus and reverence in the mystical experience; as we’ve seen at the Hopkins trials: the higher the mystical experience on the MEQ, the more healing. So there seems to be some sort of correlation there.” -Joe 

“It’s normal, I think, to maybe not always feel healed even though a lot of the mainstream articles are kind of portraying it as that. And I think that’s the danger around not being honest about our own experiences and our own process, [and just] putting out the highlights of the experience [instead of] really just trying to be real and say there’s some challenging stuff that comes up. …People really just want to highlight the peaks. But there’s a lot of juice in the valleys.” -Kyle

“A friend I was talking about earlier talked about all these other changes that happened in clinical trials and found a researcher attached to a major university that said, ‘Well, you know, I have seen some pretty dramatic relationship changes (outside of healing) in these folks that have gone through the trial.’ …What does that mean? And how do we prep people for that? Like, are you going to be able to stay with your wife after you’ve seen God two or three times in session?” -Joe


YouTube: Ben Sessa- Is MDMA psychiatry’s antibiotic?

The Adventure of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness and New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration, by Stanislav Grof

City Shadows: Psychological Interventions in Psychiatry, by Arnold Mindell

​​High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies, by Erik Davis

Psychedelics Today: PT213 – Dr. Matt Brown – Osteopathy and Exploring Energy

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