The Spirit Molecule
Dr. Rick Strassman is an American clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. He has held a fellowship in clinical psychopharmacology research at the University of California San Diego and was Professor of Psychiatry for eleven years at the University of New Mexico. After 20 years of intermission, Strassman was the first person in the United States to undertake human research with psychedelic, hallucinogenic, or entheogenic substances with his research on N,N-dimethyltryptamine, also known as DMT. He is also the author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule, which summarizes his academic research into DMT and other experimental studies of it, and includes his own reflections and conclusions based on this research.
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Could psychedelics be the bridge between science and spirituality? We’ll talk about it on this episode of the minddog TV podcast
And welcome my friends to yet another episode of the mind dog TV podcast. I’m Matt nappo. Thanks for coming. It’s great to have you here. As always, we’re gonna talk about DMT. Today, if you don’t know what DMT is, you probably never listened to the Joe Rogan podcast. I only found out about DMT It’s also known as dimethyltryptamine. I hope I pronounced that correctly. It’s a hallucinogenic. psychedelic. I’m not sure if it’s clinically classified as a drug because it’s a natural occurring substance in the human body. I don’t think it can be a drug and, and be something that is naturally occurring within the human body. But my guest today is the authority on the subject is so the man who is responsible for at least Joe Rogan finding out about it. And that’s how I found out about it quickly. Just want to say here, we are not glorifying drug use. I have talked a lot about my drug use in my teen years. And I had some heavy experimentation with psychedelics, hallucinogens, whatever you want to call them, in the 70s, in my teenage years, stopped when I became an adult. Until, like 10 years later, when somebody slipped me some LSD and Stevie Ray Vaughan concert 1988. That’s the last time I did it before then probably around 78 1977 when I became interested in DMT, more so for the spiritual aspect of the experience that so many people who have done it claim and it’s kind of like the UFO thing where enough people come back with the same exact story of their experience, that it tends to lend some credibility to it. I’m extremely interested in spirituality and this whole idea of a pathway to greater understanding through what we call a pineal gland. We used to be called a psyche guy, when I was part of a cult in the 1990s, where a lot of psychics and healers would talk about this strange gland that sits in the middle of our brains behind the behind the bridge of the nose right here. And they call the psychic guy, the psyche guy. And so I became intrigued with that idea of what’s really going on back there. My guest today seems to know more than anybody in the world about this and I’m gonna make this a really short thing. Oop, there we go. Dr. Rick Rick strassman is a clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. He had held a fellowship at the clinical psychopharmacology Research at the University of California, San Diego, and was professor of psychiatry for 11 years at the University of New Mexico. He was the first person in the United States to undertake human research with psychedelic, hallucinogenic, hallucinogenic, hallucinogenic. Can I say that substances, which is researching and dimethyltryptamine, also known as DMT, is also the author of the Spirit molecule DMT, the spirit molecule, which summarizes his research into DMT and a couple of other books, but the one I’ve read recently is called Joseph lavey escapes death seems to be a bit autobiographical. Ladies and gentlemen, please open your ears, open your minds and help me welcome in Dr. Rasmussen, my dog TV podcast. Dr. Strassman. Welcome. Thanks, Matt. Good to be here. It’s great to have you here. I’ve been looking forward to this conversation for a long time, as you heard me mentioned in the in the intro, yeah, I’m confused. Is DMT a drug? Or is it as a classified as a drug?
Dr. Rick Strassman 4:27
Well, it just depends on what you want to call it on any particular day or any particular context. If it’s being used on the street for recreational purposes, I guess you’d call it a drug. And if you’re looking at it from the point of view of being produced endogenously in the human body, you could call it a substance or compound.
matt nappo 4:50
Okay, I’m just interested. Do you think it does the government classify it as a drug So basically, it’s a controlled study. Since in if you bought it on on the street, you’d be arrested for it. Yeah, it’s a schedule one drug according to the DEA. Okay. What fascinates me about about you and the book and i’m pronouncing it Lavie. Now, all my life. I’m a New Yorker. And I’ve had plenty of friends who had that last name. And I’ve always called them levy or Levy, because that’s what they call themselves, never heard it pronounced as labor until I listened to the audio book. And I was like, that’s how you pronounce it, I am in New York, we pronounce it wrong. What I’m fascinated by is the idea of, first of all, a scientist, a medical professional, who also has an interest in spirituality. And we do today Oh, God. And and so I’m bet that interests me about you, when I talked to my bass player in my band who was Jewish, but also identifies as an atheist, and we’ve had long conversations about what it really means to be a Jew. And, and, and the belief in in the God that we call and I don’t use the word Judeo Christian, because I don’t like to separate Christian belief systems are different, but that one god that both of those religions seem to believe, and that seems to be a contradiction for science, a scientist to be going down that path. Tell me about your interest in spirituality and religion.
Dr. Rick Strassman 6:31
Um, well, I started my psychedelic research career with spiritual questions, in a way I was looking for the biological basis of spiritual experience. And I believed if you could find something going on in the brain that was occurring. Well, let me backtrack a bit. When I was in college, I was impressed with the similarities and descriptions between the psychedelic drug state and that resulting from certain kinds of meditation. So I thought there must be some common biological denominator, which was being activated or turned on as a result of either taking psychedelics or doing certain kinds of meditation. So, I started looking for what I suppose could be called the spirit molecule, even back then, you know, was there a part of the brain or substance released that, you know, was comparable to, you know, the effects of of well, which would stimulate the you know, the common experience that people described either on psychedelics or through meditation. And as you mentioned, in the introduction, I began looking at the pineal gland, because there was some evidence back then other melatonin, which is the main hormonal product of the pineal, what psychoactive This was back in the 1970s 1980s. And also the pineal gland on has a long illustrious history in in esoteric, you know, psychos, spiritualities, you know, like, the sefie wrote of Kabbalah, you know, the, you know, kept her that, you know, the crown is corresponds to the anatomical location of the pineal, the 1000 petaled, Lotus, of you know, Hindu Physiology or chakra systems, is also anatomically located there. You know, so I started off my studies looking at melatonin in the 1980s, but it was only, you know, sedating. Um, it wasn’t psychedelic at all. And, you know, by then I started to learn about DMT worked on the protocol, and began my studies in 1990. You know, so, my question other than, you know, can you get this kind of research off the ground again, after 20 years, you know, you know, my unspoken but more near and dear question was, if you know, DMT is a spirit molecule in and of itself. If you just give DMT without much in terms of your proper preparation, you’re setting up expectations. You know, when to induce a spiritual experience and the spiritual experience that I was mostly interested in interested in at the time was that of enlightenment, you know, Buddhist enlightenment as especially, you know, Zen and the kensho experience, you know, which is a unitive, mystical kind of state that there’s no self, there’s no time, there’s no space, there’s no ideas, there’s no images, there’s no feelings. It’s completely empty. And I was, you know, wondering if I gave enough, you know, DMT to people in an unstructured, but supportive environment is the pharmacology of the drug in and of itself spiritual? And, you know, so there were a couple answers to that question. The first answer is, um, that DMT isn’t inherently spiritual, it is a psychedelic, you know, drug, you know, rather, you’re rather than a man and Theo genic drug, it is only able to work on what’s already there, in your mind more or less, consciously. You know, so for example, you know, the one I, you know, near death experience in our group of volunteers occurred in a nurse with a long standing interest in the near death experience. And she’d been
Dr. Rick Strassman 11:25
studying it reading books about the N D, E. And you volunteered to be in the study, because of her belief that, you know, DMT, could you mediate certain aspects of the near death state. And also, her experience was the closest you have to the classical near death experience of any of our volunteers. You know, there was a software designer who saw, you know, the origins of ones and zeros, you know, there’s an urban shaman, you know, who was dismembered and then, you know, brought back together in a shamanic experience, you’re the one your mystical unitive kind of kensho state occurred only in one volunteer, and you this was an individual with a long standing interest in kensho, in the Enlightenment experience, and he’d been studying and you’re practicing, and you’re volunteered to have that kind of experience. And he did it. So, you know, it turned out that you know, DMT isn’t inherently spiritual, you know, but it is, you know, psychedelic, it’s mind manifesting or mind disclosing, it stimulates amplifies, makes more true, you know, things which already were existent in your mind, and you’re more or less consciously, potential, you know, which is being actual as you Yeah, so the other question or the other answer, um, is that, you know, the DMT state, you know, wasn’t anything like enlightenment experience, it was not empty, it was, you know, full of stuff. You retained your personality, there was the passage of time, there’s experience of space. There were all kinds of, you know, visual imagery. You know, there are beings with which the volunteers interacted all kinds of feelings, ideas, things like that, you know, personality was able to observe carefully and report back. You know, so the experience wasn’t at all like, the Enlightenment experience of emptiness. You know, so once I completed my study, oh, and also there was an overwhelming feeling of the state of allowing the experience of a reality more real than this one, you know, that was a, you know, compelling and quite frequent report of the volunteers. You know, so after the studies, you know, wrapped up, I started to look for other spiritual models, which might be more consistent with the kinds of effects of my volunteers and you’re responding to DMT. So as raised, you know, conservative Jewish I, you know, went through an extremely long, you know, 20 plus year detour through Zen Buddhism. And after a while, you know, the Zen, you know, model, the Zen beliefs, you know, the practice And began kind of wearing FIM. Well, you know, the bowing I was, you know, wondering about all the bowing to statues and pictures of former teachers and things, you know, to each other. You know, it was explained to me while you’re bowing, you know, to the pure essence of each other in the process, but, but but still on my thought, you know, if you’re going to bow, you know, why not bow to the most high as opposed to just this big, golden statue of Buddha? Yeah, you know, um, and also, you know, the whole idea of, you know, Buddhism, you know, not having a god, you know, I’m Jewish, you know, you know, even genetically and, you know, the constant, you know, discussion that there is no God or suddenly karma started to where it kind of thin as well. And I, you know, began asking questions, which in Buddhism are called not conducive to enlightenment? You know, for example, you know, what occurred, you know, before cause and effect it, you know, on my favorite thing, you know, if, you know, cause and effect,
Dr. Rick Strassman 16:10
you know, determines everything, you know, what determines cause and effect, you know, so, you know, that, in a way is a question about what occurred before the big bang, right? I, you know, what, just God is, you know, God, you know, temporal or are not, you know, so, you know, those kinds of questions, were discouraged in the morning, a practical approach, but still, you know, there were some strange things, which we were expected to assume or to believe, and to do, you know, within Zen practice, yeah, the other was, you know, karma is supposed to be neutral. It’s just, you know, kind of it started somehow, and then every effect has got antecedent causes, you know, but I started to wonder, as well, you know, why are things, you know, the way they are, you know, why are, you know, why are certain ideas and behaviors rewarded, and others, you know, seem to be punished. You know, like, if you’re angry, you get an upset stomach. But, you know, as opposed to, if you get angry, you know, why don’t you make a million dollars, or you grow a pair of wings, you know, so, you know, things are a specific way in existence. And so, I began, you know, thinking, you know, their karma seems to reflect, you know, the will and the power of, you know, some overarching intelligence, you know, we just got a scheme, which is supposed to benefit us, as opposed to harming us, you know, so yeah, combined with, you know, those kinds of ruminations, you’re looking for another model of spirituality as revealed through the DMT effect. I started reading the Hebrew Bible, and ended up you know, being convinced of a prophetic state of consciousness, which pervades the text, which is quite DMT, like, but at the same time is quite different because of the information contained in the Bible as compared to, you know, contained in the DMT experience. So, you know, one of the things you’ve got to work through in the text is the existence of God, like the first word or the second word, in the, in the Bible, as in the beginning, God created heaven and earth. It’s like, Who’s God? What’s God do? How does that work? Right, right. So I spent years, you know, just, you know, be the I, you know, beating my head against the wall, you know, what does, you know, this God, and I started to, you know, read the medieval philosophers, you know, who are quite sophisticated, you know, back in the day, you know, 900 to, you know, 1400 in the Common Era. Yeah. And, you know, gradually, you know, slowly but surely, I began to believe in God, you know, want to understand, you know, God’s characteristics and interaction with the world. You know, my first you know, toeholds for I’m accepting, you know, the notion of God, you came through Buddhism actually, and it was around you know, those two issues of karma. You know, who created and, you know, who sustains karma, and what’s going to exist once karma is, you know, done as everything else is done, according to the law of karma. And also, you know, why does karma seem to operate in a particular manner, right, you know, so those were the two footholds with allowed me to start thinking, Oh, you know, it must be God who created and sustains cause and effect, which works in a particular way, which, you know, reflects, you know, so to speak the mind of God.
matt nappo 20:16
Wow, that’s so interesting. Now, there’s a lot to reflect on in that answer. First of all, the idea of similarities between nd ease and the DMT experience. I think one of the differences that I’ve noticed with that is because I’ve talked to a lot of people who, you know, found God through. And he is, an atheist will convert after a many times and atheists will convert to a somewhat of a believer in something hot, bigger and higher than ourselves after an nD nD. But I know a lot of atheists who have had the DMT experience and remain atheist, but also atheist in a very judgmental way in that, well, if you believe in God, you must be an idiot, if you believe this. And especially you mentioned the Bible, they’ll they’ll bring that up, like, how could any reasonable person take the stories in there to be literal truth? And I think that’s where we get into a problem with this idea of the old man in the sky. God, do you? How do you address that? Because I don’t think anywhere in the Bible, it actually says like, oh, man in the sky. But that’s, that’s the atheist view of what the belief is, how do you how do you address that or you don’t address it?
Dr. Rick Strassman 21:44
Yeah, you’ve got to address it. And it’s kind of, you know, like a DMT experience, you need to suspend disbelief in an order, you know, to get the most out of what you’re, you know, perceiving or reading or apprehending. You know, in the beginning of my DMT studies, I was pretty skeptical of the reality or, you know, bases of people’s experiences, you know, like, you know, when they were telling me about these are being encounters, you know, these, you know, critters or bees, or robots or cactuses, and doing things and interacting with people, I thought to myself, well, it’s your brain on drugs, or as a Freudian impulses, or conflicts, you know, being represented visually and emotionally. It’s some kind of union archetype. You know, but it was anything, you know, but real. And, you my skepticism, even though I was keeping it to myself, still kind of leaked out. And the volunteers weren’t as comfortable describing the stranger parts of their experiences. And, you know, I picked up on that, and then started to, you know, treat the experiences to be as real as the volunteers believe they were, you know, like, you know, the state is quite common, or it’s because it’s consistent. It’s, you know, visual, it’s not a body. If, you know, rapidly changing, there’s beings you interact with him. You’re a bit confused, a bit anxious early on, but then it just completely opens up, you know, so, I thought, Well, okay, you know, these are, you know, this drug, you know, this compound seems to allow people to enter into free standing, completely consistent, independent universe from this one, which is more real than real. So, you know, when you start reading the Bible, you have to do the same thing, you’ve got to say to yourself, okay, you know, this is describing a universe a particular, you know, world which is more real than real for those who are in those narratives. You know, if you read about your prophecy, you know, like Ezekiel, for example. You know, he just, you know, falls down because of the intensity of the visions, and it’s the most your real, overpowering thing that’s ever occurred to him in his life. You know, so you can say, Oh, that’s just crazy. That’s just schizophrenia, you know, but you need to, you know, I guess, you know, suspend your disbelief. You could study the text carefully. You don’t you know, learn about that. character, you know, who is he he’ll? And you could enter into his mind and you see what’s going on there? You know, what’s he saying? And why? And, you know, what are the implications back then, you know, nowadays, you know, the story of Abraham, you know, the first, the first Jew, you know, Abraham is, you know, living in, you know, you know, like an idol of infested Babylonia, and he gets a call from God to go to Canaan and to worship the one God. You know, so you know, who is Abraham, you know, is, you know, like, Are there qualities of Abraham in me? You know, who were his parents, his wife, his kids, his travels, his servant, his maid servant, Ishmael, and Isaac, you know, so it’s this, it’s this free standing universe. And you could say, Oh, it’s just a bunch of, you know, hooey and promoting a genocide and the chosen people and all that. You could just say, okay, that’s fine. But what does the text actually say? And your friends on who say, Oh, you know, the Bible is just, you know, Bs, you can ask them if they’ve ever read the Bible. And if they have, if they’ve ever studied it,
matt nappo 26:18
yeah, you know, most of the time, most of the time, the answer will be very surface level reading, so and they will go right to the easiest part parts of it like, no, there’s no way no one could have had to have every species on Earth on the on the end, that kind of stuff. So I think they have a probably have not read it, but have heard the stories enough to believe they have read it, if that makes sense.
Dr. Rick Strassman 26:50
Yeah, well, you cherry pick well, right. It’s, um, you know, kind of like the story or you know, that, you know, saying your first fear is a mountain, you know, then there is no mountain then there is, you know, the first time you read the Bible, it’s, you know, literal, and it’s just, like crazy. And, you know, there’s nothing like, it’s just, you know, nonsense, and, and, you know, then once you’ve begun to study it in earnest, you can start to glean the gems of information, which are embedded in the narratives in the poetry and the wisdom and the legal code,
matt nappo 27:31
right? Part of the nd II experience seems to be precondition. In other words, if, you know, the whole idea of, if you’re, you committed suicide or tried to commit suicide, and have the NDA, you will have visions of the hell or, you know, very dark experience. And if you, you know, whatever died in an accident, or you sleep, whatever the, you know, be non suicidal way that you might have had, you tend to have a more heavenly type experience. Are there people who are in DMT, who have that DMT experimentation that have had that dark experience, the hell experience where the beings don’t seem to be friendly beings, but judgmental beings?
Dr. Rick Strassman 28:25
Well, I’m not sure if I would call them judgmental, you know, but at least aggressive, and hostile, and even harmful, um, in a way, you know, one of our volunteers was a young guy, you know, tie dye, your long hair, hippie Dude, you know, loved MDMA, had taken small doses of your mushrooms in the past, and was completely into the loving light, you know, delusion, as it were. He was, you know, hard for him to face his own your darkness, you know, so on his first, you know, large, you know, dose of DMT he was raped in Italy by crocodiles who pinned into the bed. He he couldn’t move, he was paralyzed, he couldn’t speak, he couldn’t ask for help. And, you know, the first few minutes of the DMT experience, I’m just, you know, kind of crossing my, my fingers together and you’re praying is going to go all right. And I had no idea was going on with him. And, you know, at about the 20 minute point, he opened up his eyes and said, that was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me in my life. Wow. You know, so that was, you know, one experience like that, you know, some other guy came in, um, after having a big, you know, pizza and your beer dinner the night before, because he figured DMT I could handle that. Yeah, and he was a bit hung over a bit full stop. From all that pizza and his DMT experience was rather frightening as well, this black warrior with a shield and a spear just appeared right in front of him and said You dare enter here, you know, so it would depend on your state of mind, your personality, your approach, you know, going into the study, you would need to be psychologically healthy and mature. You already mentally, physically, you know, so it wasn’t just a shirred, ecstatic beatific state, it could be quite taxing.
matt nappo 30:38
So So with that in mind, you can have a bad experience on this, is there any real therapeutic use, because in therapy, the last last thing you want to do is drive somebody further into a dark place? I mean, the, the whole purpose of therapy is to get them to a brighter, lighter place. And it seems like, you’re never sure what you’re going to get. And so is there a real therapeutic use for the empty?
Dr. Rick Strassman 31:10
Yeah, well, there’s two important issues there, you know, one of them is, you know, the whole notion of psychotherapy, and, you know, if you’re going to be, you know, successful doing psychotherapy, you need to increase at least usually, you need to increase slightly the amount of anxiety that you know, that the patient is feeling, I’m in order to spur them to start challenging themselves, to look at stuff that they would rather not look at our you know, think about things they would rather not think about. You know, so you want to increase their, their anxiety, but not too much. Otherwise, they’ll just be too anxious and won’t be able to attend, or they’ll get spooked and flee. You know, so you wouldn’t necessarily start off if you were doing, you know, psychotherapy with DMT, you might not start off with a full dose, you might start off with a lower dose that just kind of gets the wheels turning in a different way. You know, so that’s, you know, one issue, um, you know, there’s another issue, you know, specific to DMT, you know, which is it’s extremely short duration of action, it only is effective for maybe 1520 minutes or so, that to me. Right, right. That’s why I used to be called, you know, the business man’s trip. You know, but, you know, there are a couple of groups overseas that are developing a continuous infusion model of DMT. You know, so you could keep somebody in that state for an hour, you know, two or three, and you could turn it up, you could turn it down, you know, depending on the content of the material coming up in psychotherapy, you could turn it off and just interact with the patient. You know, in a sober state, it wears off so quickly. And you could do that for a few hours. And it might be extremely useful or you know, psycho therapeutically. Yeah, the other notion which is a bit more of a mind, bender is the whole field which is coalescing around the issues of neuroplasticity and neurogenesis. neuroplasticity is where a compound or activity increases the complexity and the number of connections between nerve cells. And the other notion is neurogenesis is neurogenesis, which he points to the growth of new neurons from stem cells. And the psychedelics seem to induce you know, both neuroplasticity and neurogenesis and ketamine also does as well. And your ketamine is a psychedelic in a way and it’s an anti depressant. And you may not really need to attain to any particular subjective experience with ketamine in order to still see an anti depressant response. You know, so, you know, people are starting to think, you know, do you need to experience anything subjectively in order for these drugs to work in terms of anti depressant effect? You know, is that all going on behind the scenes? Is it just the stimulation of neurogenesis and neuroplasticity? You know, so the psychedelics also do that and in the same time course You know, like ketamine, you know, so yeah, there’s a, you know, move to develop non psychedelic psychedelics, which stimulate the same parts of the brain and stimulate your neuro and stimulate, I, you know, the plasticity and the stem cell affects you without any subjective effects. You know, so it’s a strange thing, you know, some people are saying, Oh, you need the subjective experience, if you’re going to be getting any healing, and others are saying, no, that’s not necessary. It just occurs behind the scenes with, you know, sprouting neurons, you know, that you’re not aware of, until after the fact.
matt nappo 35:43
But, well, part of this, I have to think that you’re pretty brave in going down this route, and even suggesting that there might be a spirit module molecule. And I know, you know, you’re not the first person in the history of mankind to kind of come up with that idea. But being a medical doctor and a professor and you know, what’s there any kind of just ambivalence about you know, what, what your colleagues might, because I talked to a lot of people on here, we’ll talk about consciousness talk about spirituality all the time, but most of them aren’t rooted in science and have nothing, no, nothing to lose by going down that path. We went. And so when you were first starting in this, was that a concern for you to even broach this subject?
Dr. Rick Strassman 36:41
Yeah, yeah, it was quite a concern. And I kept the spirituality aspect completely to myself. I never really talked about it with my colleagues, with my, you know, regulators with the people, you know, funding my studies, it was all strictly in psychopharmacology. You know, dose response work, endocrine results, cardio, vascular effects, those kinds of things. Yes, yeah. So I really stay clear of both spirituality and psychotherapy, you know, because a lot of the reasons or, you know, one of the reasons Anyway, these kinds of studies ended in the early 1970s is, you know, because of the spiritual flavor that was being, you know, kind of permeating, you know, the psychotherapy research, like it was, you know, mystical experiences, you know, which were, you know, curing depression, or OCD or end of life care, as opposed to, you know, psycho pharmacological effects. And, you know, regulators back then, especially back then, we, you know, we’re not going to teen on your mixing categories like this, you know, it’s either your psychotherapeutic or it’s spiritual. And, you know, I’m, I learned my lesson or, you know, I’m, I learned the lesson, you know, that the first generation of scientists, researchers learn is to just keep it psychopharmacological, you know, so, it wasn’t until I stopped my studies, and began, you know, looking at, you know, the, you know, the largest and broadest container, you know, to understand the experiences and, you know, that I started to speak more openly about, you know, my interest in the spiritual aspects of these compounds,
matt nappo 38:52
right, when we talk to people who were come from those fringes on this program, and I don’t even really know if I that’s disrespectful to say those fringes, people who have different belief systems than mainstream religion, about what what the experiences they took the word that always comes up is consciousness and it comes up in your book, too. And but in in terms of the separation of consciousness from the body, and I’m still trying to nail down exactly what consciousness is. We use the word so much. Can you help me out with that at all?
Dr. Rick Strassman 39:35
Um, probably, you know, not too much. Well, you know, consciousness, I suppose it’s, you know, like pornography, right? You can’t define it, but you know it when you see it, right. Yeah.
matt nappo 39:48
Yeah. Time displacement stuff, I understand. But it’s still when we’re talking about what consciousness is. I mean, cuz I it feels like a scientific way. of saying spirit without saying spirit?
Dr. Rick Strassman 40:04
Well, yeah, it, you know, is pretty complicated. Well, well, you know, when you’re a medical student, and you’re going on around, you know, they speak about consciousness, you know, what is the state of consciousness of your, of your, of your patient? Um, is a stable and alert, is it drowsy? Is it confused? Um, is it asleep? Is it in coma responsive or not? You know, so, it’s a you know, medical expression um, at least in you know, within the medical you know, context you know, a lot on a spectrum of alertness to coma and stability um, is at a stable level of consciousness or is it fluctuating Are you alert for a few minutes and then you get drowsy or fall asleep, you become alert again, you know, consciousness within your psychology, more partakes of awareness, attention, those kinds of things, right. And yes, in spiritual circles, it can assume, you know, your more abstract, you know, kinds of properties, like, you know, being elevated or being, you know, dance those kinds of expressions. Your spiritual is no complex term to and, you know, I usually like to call it our feelings or thoughts or behaviors or perceptions, which you partake of the elevated, the non ordinary, the special, the unique, the memorable, the more real than real. You know, so you have to be conscious in order to have a spiritual experience, you know, so that, you know, plays in, in, in to the definition as well,
matt nappo 42:22
right. And part of part of this whole idea about separating consciousness from the body. It’s confusing, because I’m thinking of the, the psychoactive effect of DMT seems to be opening up the pineal gland, I’m guessing, to experience something that is external, not internal. That’s the part that that confuses me. Because if I can work a really short story, and again, for the people on YouTube who monitor me, I’m not glorifying drug use. In the early 70s, mid 70s. I did LSD at Carlos Santana concert. And I was brought up in a supposedly Catholic New York Catholic upbringing, but what that really means is you don’t have religion, you don’t talk about religion, you don’t talk about faith it, it’s just a tag we put on you, you’re not going to go to church, you’re not going to read any Bible, you’re not gonna do any of that stuff. And don’t talk about it with your friends, because they’ll just, you know, they’ll tune you out. So I we were at a Carlos Santana concert with a girl who was in Catholic school, but still not religious. And we both had the same experience of telepathic communication on LSD, what we what we we are sure that we were having a conversation, and both of us felt like we were having the same conversation that like, I think you’re saying one thing and one thing and we’re after we said, Yeah, that was great. We actually could recount our conversation that we had without speaking a word. And so I, this this idea of, is it out there doors in an internal experience? is a drug doing something to our brain to make us believe something is happening externally? Or is it really an external experience? And it’s just opening up a pathway? Did you gain any, you know, definitive belief about what what’s really happening? Is it an internal experience, or is there really something out there that we are tapping into?
Dr. Rick Strassman 44:27
Um, yeah, well, yeah. Well, well, that’s an important question. And, well, yeah, before we, we go there, let me you know, clarify or shed some light on, you know, the notion of, you know, consciousness, leaving the body in my volunteers. You know, I think, you know, a more precise description of what took place is that people lost awareness of their body. They, you know, they were no longer aware of their bodies. You know, like with ketamine as well, you’re unaware of your body just.
matt nappo 45:07
So that’s different. I don’t mean to interrupt, but that’s different from the MDD nd experience where they believe that above their body and could look down and see it, so they’re conscious of their body.
Dr. Rick Strassman 45:19
Right? Yeah, there was no one with you know, that kind of experience in our group, you know, that, you know, they could view their bodies in from a distance, or they traveled, you know, like, you know, downtown Albuquerque to look around. Yeah, so, um, you know, so is the content of the experience in your mind? Or is? Or are you just able to perceive things which drops out of your mind? You know, because of the alteration in your brain chemistry? Yeah. And we just don’t know. I mean, it’s really impossible to say, you know, your experience of telepathy? Yeah, you know, that would point you to a model that proposes that you’re perceiving things which aren’t, you know, generated within you, you’re just in perceiving rather than, you know, generating it, you know, so, you know, that would be consistent with an external, you know, world that you’re now able to tap into, you know, the other model is the neuro theology model, which is, you know, this is your brain on drugs, you know, there are certain parts of your brain being, you know, dinged by the drug, and you’re generating, you know, the impression of, you know, reading your friends, your mind at the time,
matt nappo 46:44
right. And so, and part of the, the thing that confused, again, further complicates that is, we think both of us were taught never really, or conditioned, never really talked about being spiritual with that the conversation about it didn’t happen for 10 years after. So we were both kind of remembering the experience of what it what it was because she bade, I basically heard her telling me, we need to be up front in the front row, can I get on your shoulders, and I just lifted her up on my shoulders and ran to the front row. And we both remembered it that way. But 10 years can be a long time. And so the question really is to people on DMT. And I guess it would only happen on low doses, where you don’t have that experience of losing losing connection to your body, have any of those telepathic kind of, you know, experiences that part where I feel I can communicate without speaking?
Dr. Rick Strassman 47:43
Um, well, we only gave you know, DMT to one person at a time. You know, so, you know, there was never a case for people, you know, to be in that same stone space and interacting in that space, you know, with their minds only, you know, the closest thing might be one of our volunteers was, you know, sometimes asked to do a psychic work for the police, you know, to locate missing people. And so she was hoping on her DMT experiences to be able to make contact with those missing people. And it didn’t occur. So yes, and no one and it was a you know, didn’t work out
matt nappo 48:33
big letdown for the people who want to believe in the psychic experience right there. And I’m sure most any of them who are listening to that are waiting for you to say, and it did in your hands, her ability to find missing people. And we are kind of short on time here. And I wish I had you for three hours. But I want to be respectful of your time. I want to talk about the book. The other book, not the spirit, my my new book, The Joseph lavey. if I’m pronouncing that right way we escaped death. Yeah, difficult for me. I’ve just conditioned for 60 years to be saying levy. It seems autobiography, autobiographical, it seems like it’s, it’s definitely you. If so, if I’m writing that, why even bother with the pseudonym.
Dr. Rick Strassman 49:28
Right, right. Well, the well, you know, pronouncing the last name lavey. As you know, based on you know, the spelling in the Bible. The Hebrew spelling is um, is Lavie, which would be you know, you know, that’d be hard, you know, but I, you know, wanted to retain the verbalization anyway, right. Well, it’s completely autobiographical. But yeah, it describes You know, bad tooth procedure that just kind of, you know, took me down in so many hellish rabbit holes. I swore if I ever survived, I would write about it. Because it was just impossible to make this stuff up. So yeah, you know, what I tell people is everything which occurred to the protagonist occurred to me, and every, you know, thought that passed through his mind and passed, you know, through mine as well. But still, it’s a snapshot. It’s, you know, it’s a facet of my personality, as opposed to me. Well, you know, Philip Roth always used to be asked, you know, what’s the difference between you and Alexander Portnoy? And he’d say, I’m not Alexander Portnoy. You know, so, it’s the same thing. You know, I’m not Joseph lavey. But still, I couldn’t have written that book without being me. You know, why did I, you know, disguise things and names and places? Well, you know, with respect, you know, to the places I don’t, you know, paint the healthcare where I live in a very good light. And
matt nappo 51:13
I wanted to talk about it. But yeah, I’m sorry to interrupt.
Dr. Rick Strassman 51:16
Yeah. And I was concerned, if I said, Oh, it’s, you know, my hometown, and this is the name of the hospital. And if I ever needed to go to that hospital, they’d say, oh, you’re the guy that just completely trashed us, we’re not going to look after you. You know, it’s, you know, difficult to imagine they could have offered worse care, you know, than they did otherwise. But still, you know, they just might refuse to see me. The other is, you know, that, you know, there’s some, you know, some personal stuff, friends and family, women.
matt nappo 51:50
It’s an uncomfortable read, and some of the things I wish you would have kind of disguise. I mean, for the non medical people, people who might be a little bit squeamish, squeamish? Yeah. Some of the things in there are a little bit too detailed and too real for a guy like me. And I worked in pathology and did autopsies for many years. And so you would think, but your book definitely got me. Wow. But, um, the idea of your situation there, I had a friend, who, when I started to read the book, and I’m like, this is Andy story, he started with this tooth the same way the bad crown, ended up going through all the things that you went through. So you’re not alone in that. But on the healthcare thing a couple of weeks ago at Lee Tomlinson on who was a former corporate guy in television, and also a very successful guy who went through a lot of not quite just up rabies, struggles with the healthcare system, but some struggles with the healthcare system. And he came out and wrote a book about the lack of empathy. And he used that word, probably 1000 times in his book about the lack of empathy in the healthcare system. When I read your book, it felt it felt like I was talking to him all over again, about this chronic state of people. People get in doctor and I don’t have to tell you, doctors and nurses get into the field because they want to be helpful. They want to help people they want to, you know, be heroes. And then at some point along the line, it seemed like a lot of them, whether it’s because overworked stressed, the system that they’re in, seems to beat the empathy out of them. your take on that?
Dr. Rick Strassman 53:45
Yeah, I think that’s true. And if there’s one thing well, there was incompetence, like there was gross incompetence, which was difficult for me as an academic physician, you know, to count an ensign, I wasn’t very subtle about my suggestions for them, you know, kind of increasing their game, you know, upping their game, you know, but, you know, the empathy was, yeah, it was really lacking. And, you know, the nurses, you know, their radiology, well, well, the radiology department was great, you know, they were kind, supportive walk me through everything. I was cold, they put a blanket on me and stuff like that, you know, but everybody else was just out to lunch. You know, they forgot about me when I was getting a respiratory therapy on your treatment, you know, they just left me, you know, they just left the machine in there. going and going and going and there’s no more medication there is going go so I just unplugged it. Yeah. And you’re like half a day later and they say, Oh, we never pick this up. Did we? Yeah. So yeah, you know, if you see enough difficult patients, if you fail in your duties or your responsibilities, easier, your own expectations, you know, for helping people. You know, you, you begin to realize that only a job as opposed to you making your life worthwhile. All kinds of things like that. You start burning out. Yeah, you know, so I stopped your practice, you know, my own psychiatry practice, you know, when I started burning out, and I lost empathy, you know, like I had been, you know, working with your psychiatric patients for 30 years. But, you know, one thing I was smart, around was never working full time seeing patients, I only worked in three, four days a week. Otherwise, you just get overwhelmed. You just have too many people’s problems in your mind. You know, so I always had other things going on, I was living in beautiful places that I could, you know, drive around, you know, hike around you. But after a certain point, I was at a clinic between Santa Fe and tau, it’s a small town called es es Mineola. And it was the most hardcore group of patients I’ve ever had, you know, murderers. Just a lot of murderers, actually. And unbelievable amounts of you know, drug abuse and domestic violence and intergenerational abusive is just nuts. And after your tears at that, I had said, I don’t really want to hear about these things anymore.
matt nappo 56:35
Yeah. And I can understand that, yeah,
Dr. Rick Strassman 56:38
yeah. You know, so, you know, my contract was up, I said, I’m taking a break. And that break has become the 13 years now.
matt nappo 56:45
So I think it’s really important for medical professionals to read your book. I do. But the question I have for you is, and I don’t know if you can really answer this because you seem healthy now and probably haven’t. Get First of all, the book is just so frustrating. You just feel like my god is this is and I imagine you going through it probably said that 1000 times, is this ever going to end? The torture, you see personal physical torture, you seem to be enjoying? But do you have any sense that the medical profession, the medical industry, how we care for people? Has it improved since that time or not?
Dr. Rick Strassman 57:24
Well, I think, you know, small town, you know, health care, you know, generally, I mean, it’s a burnout. You know, I live in a small town, like, well, you live in a certain small towns, you know, like upper crust, your retirement, small towns like towns, you know, for example, you know, it’s a very small town with, you know, great positions and a great hospital. Yeah, yeah. But that is the exception. And you’re like, I live near them? Well, you work? Well, well, so I live, you know, near that, you know, the Navajo reservation, and it’s impoverished, and it’s really hard to attract physicians out here, your nurses and whatnot. Yeah, you know, so the healthcare is pretty poor, in small towns, especially if they’re extractive industry, kind of towns, you know, non University kind of towns, you know, without the kinds of things which appeal, you know, to, you know, well educated people. Yeah, and I think, you know, health insurance is just grim. You have to spend all your time, you know, begging for treatments or prescriptions to be filled in those kinds of things. Yeah, I don’t think it’s getting any better. And that’s
matt nappo 58:43
a shame and something, you know, we talk a lot about health care in this country, but it’s not just the insurance and how we’re going to pay for it that matters, I think, the approach to burning out doctors and nurses, to the point where they, they are not angels anymore, they’re just, you know, overworked, angry people, like the rest of us is the probably the worst thing we could do for the country in terms of health care, and I think that needs to be addressed as much as the financial part of it, and how we pay for all that we agree.
Dr. Rick Strassman 59:16
Yeah, and I think, you know, the, you know, the whole concept of electronic medical records has been a really mixed blessing. You can get your hands on, you know, medical records, you know, much easier now, you know, but at the same time, the amount of time you need to spend entering and checking boxes and all that on your computer after you, you’re done. You’re seeing a patient. It’s just really hard to do. You know, if you’re a large clinic with a lot of staff, you can hire a you know, somebody, you know, to take transcription, and you know, they can enter all that stuff in the computer, you know, but if you’re a solo practitioner, it’s important community, you’re stuck in bringing home an enormous amount of work, you know, much more than was the case, it’d be the instance, no
matt nappo 1:00:09
doubt about it. My wife is a nurse and her normal working hours at 40 hours a week. But the report work that she has to do is another 40 hours a week she she spent the equal time after she’s all done with her, doing her treatments and stuff with the reports. And so I feel that I hear it. And I think that’s something that needs to be addressed. I want to be respectful of your time. I know, you’re very busy man and very wanted on a lot for a lot of reasons. Not wanted into the way that guy in posters. But I do appreciate your time here. Just Finally, on the DMT thing. Do you feel like you’ve made you come to any, like real? Will enlightenment through your own experimentation About what? What’s really going on? Or? You know, I know that’s a loaded question like, but I’m so curious, this is why I want to do DMT. And I just want to do it once, just to see what that experience is. Did you out? Do you have any feeling like that you’ve been enlightened? beyond what I know right now from interviewing people?
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:01:27
No, not really. Well, you know, a couple of years ago, a study came out from the University of Michigan, demonstrating, you know, concentrations of DMT in the mammal brain, which are as high as serotonin, for example, which then, you know, points to the possibility of a DMT neurotransmitter system. And you’ve got to wonder, you know, what, you know, that might be doing in the brain? And, you know, what is your mediating, and your the hallmark of a DMT experiences is more real than real, you know, so it’s, you know, attempting to speculate that the role of a putative DMT neurotransmitter system is to mediate our ongoing sense of reality, you know, which is a very strange thought, because, you know, then you need to wonder, what’s your regulating the substance that’s regulating our feeling of reality? So that’s where it gets pretty spooky.
matt nappo 1:02:29
Does? Yeah. Wow. So I think the the, the big conclusion here with with today’s is really a big chicken and egg discussion going around in circles about, and I don’t think it’s ever going to end and so I feel like humanity is never going to get any closer. It’s like, you’ll know, when you die. What what happens after this? Or what goes on?
Dr. Rick Strassman 1:02:56
Yeah, yeah. And I think you know, you know, contemplating or wondering about what occurs after you die, it’s kind of moot. You know, it isn’t all that important in a way, you know, you’ve got no control over it. You know, nobody really knows what it’s like, you know, so, you know, that’s, you know, where the importance of, you know, living your life as best as you can, you know,
matt nappo 1:03:19
I get it. Yeah, and I but that fear of the unknown is what drives our curiosity. And that’s why I think we all want to know, I do appreciate your time here, and I’m gonna let you go. But I do want to say I will be continuing to suggest the books and promote the books, and I wish you great success. And And listen, if you ever have anything, like, be come across any big epiphany that you would love to share with me. I would love to hear that. Sure. Good. I’m so curious about this stuff. Thank you for coming. Have a great day. Well, thanks, man. Take care. Afterwards, Rick strassman. Folks, I wish we had three or four hours with them. I know you do, too. I feel like we were just scratching the surface there. But the overall conclusion I think, for me is some things are unknowable. As much as we want to know, I still I you know, that hasn’t deterred me from really wanting to have that one short, 15 minute experience with DMT. Again, for the YouTube folks, I’m not glorifying the experience. I’m not recommending anybody else do it. not suggesting that people go out and look for illegal substances. I’m just I’m a little disappointed that the government does classify it as a controlled substance and a drug but so I would love to hear your thoughts on it. Write to me at info at mind dog TV. com info at mind, dog tv.com. Please remember to check out Dr. strassman books. One more time. We got this DMT the spirit molecule and Joseph lavey escapes death which is you know what, that’s a real hard Read and frustrating read about you, you should have some empathy before you even open the cover of that book because it’s a really hellish experience. I mean hell on earth. He talks about you know, we don’t worry about what’s going to happen if you die because it seems to me he went to hell him in back in this lifetime on it during this life and that’s my takeaway from that book that’s my great book but not to be read on the cold heart because he does go through some and it is extremely frustrating you just like you just wanted to be suffering to end this great book. So anyway, that’s our program for today. tonight. I have Joseph Serra with me, who has written a book called The devil pulls the strings and puts things with spirituality, and time travel and all this kind of stuff and should be an interesting way to end this very strange week with psychics, palm readers, BMT discussion, scientists who are doing studies on Gen Z. It’s been a very full week of very wide subjects, that you can make infection come and talk to me. Round Listen to me, listen to Now listen to me, listen to me now.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai