When Lily Kay Ross first tried to speak out about rape and other harms in the psychedelic community, her colleagues advised against it. Eventually, she connected with others who had stories about harm they experienced or witnessed in the psychedelic space. Their stories are the backbone of the podcast Power Trip.
Nothing will de-legitimize the psychedelic renaissance faster than abuse of power by people who are guiding people through psychedelic experiences. If we want to realize the benefits of what psychedelics can bring to ourselves and to our species as a whole then we have to have protocols, practices, credible certifications and a fair and just means to hold abusers accountable. This is a new field - and also a very old one - and it can draw upon the best practices used in the medical and psychotherapeutic disciplines. There needs to be a professional body which certifies and can sanction members for abuse. There must be transparency, at least two independent watchers during a session, rules for conflict of interest, and a means to report of suspected abuse and an investigative arm. Yes, all of that will cost money for guides and clients, but it has to be in place or we will end up with scandal after scandal and it will all be shutdown and back to the bad old days of the 1970s to the early 2000s.
As a psychologically-minded psychiatrist for 40 years and a co-traveler with Terry McKenna to La Chorrera in 1971- I share all concerns regarding ‘psychedelic therapies’ & the zealots’ rush to exploit the terrible failures of traditional psychopharmacology in the treatment of complex suffering. There is a huge risk of solipsistic conviction that may be sincere, naive or sociopathic -with tech funding - that is disconnected from actual clinical wisdom. It is profoundly different to support private experimentation with hallucinogens vs make claims to implement treatments for patients seeking care.
While some folks may benefit from micro dosing or a big trip- selecting ideal candidates for psychoactive substances is hard. MDMA has an amphetamine chain; ketamine is dissociative- neither are true hallucinogens. Hearing the ‘new therapists’ say the ego dissolved suggests they have a clue what ‘ego’ means. Mostly it sounds like a glibly shallow use of ‘ego’ from pop culture- not well understood (studied) psychological theory. Moreover, the absence of long relational psychotherapeutic experience with patients makes psychedelic therapists one-trick ponies.