Field Tripping
Field Tripping
Nov 24, 2020
Mass Mental Health | Rick Doblin Pt. 2
Play • 52 min

Rick is the founder and executive director of MAPS. He’s a pioneer of psychedelic research and the therapeutic advancement of psychedelics. In the second part of his conversation with Ronan, Rick discusses the origins of drug prohibition, the early days of MAPS, and some of his most impactful trips on LSD, DMT and MDMA – including one trip where Rick observed a Hitler rally and it showed him the path to truly helping others. Then, we discuss how memories can heal – even if they’re manufactured. Finally, Rick predicts how the future of humanity can feel interconnected.  

  • Rick talks about how heartbreaking it was to see the DEA administrator criminalize the therapeutic and recreational use of MDMA as Schedule 3 – which lead to Rick's creation of MAPS in 1986. Criminalization was a highly political decision and escalation of the drug war (1:00)  
  • The drug war was political, and not intended to reduce drug abuse – it was an effort to persecute minorities, take away the right to vote, and create a vague enemy to blame. Rick traces the origin of drug probations in the United States (3:36)  
  • Toxicity studies of MDMA in dogs and rats as the initial studies for the FDA were performed by MAPS – while the rhetoric and hysteria of MDMA neurotoxicity escalated from some scientists and became a premise for the FDA to reject the studies (6:00)  
  • Rick discusses how he got a spinal tap as part of initial MDMA research, where he completed his Masters and PhD from the Kennedy School of Government. He applied for the Presidential Management Internship – and got a job at the FDA to understand how it worked (11:00)  
  • In 1992, the FDA opened the door to MDMA research, and MAPS started with a safety study, but the neurotoxicity hysteria continued to gain momentum. Since psilocybin was less controversial, research with this substance began (13:00)  
  • MDMA research began to be rejected from IRB’s (independent review boards) – despite the compelling science and mounting evidence. Rick jokes about the one time he felt discouragement in his work, so he repainted his house, and felt productive and accomplished (18:00)  
  • Rick describes the work that he does, and the healing of trauma, is a response to the holocaust, to people dehumanizing others, and fundamentalism (21:50)  
  • Rick discusses some of his psychedelic experiences, and how they have been reaffirming to his work. He took a large dose of LSD to celebrate his 21st birthday, and tried to cram life into a few remaining minutes before a perceived atomic bomb. Then he noticed nature and its vibrancy – seeing the world for the first time (25:30)  
  • The combination of LSD with the awareness of death helped Rick to have a deep appreciation of the world – and the loss of this hyperawareness as he came down has always stayed with him. Carlos Castaneda says: “be aware of death over your left shoulder” (30:00)  
  • Psychedelics can provide experiences, but they are filtered through our own subjectivity, and should not necessarily be taken as Truth. People can recall deep memories during therapeutic trips – and they can be profoundly symbolic – even if they are more symbolic in nature rather than truthful (35:00)  
  • Rick talks about another trip on LSD after a tough breakup and he spent 17 hours in a water flotation tank and had a personal realization about self-hatred and self-acceptance (38:00)  
  • Rick talk about his first time smoking DMT, and how he had a sense of universal connection. He communicated with the deepest part of himself, and realized that he is part of everything, including Hitler, which was tough for him to accept. Later that day, when doing Ketamine, Rick has vision of a Hitler rally, to see "the one combining with the many, and the many combining with the one: a vibration of energy". Rick used breath work to get control of his emotions. (43:00)  
  • The only way to get Hitler to open up was that "he needed to be willing". Rick realized Hitler was getting more out of it than any other who were giving their power to him – so Rick’s strategy is "to change the many, not the one. Help them process so they won’t give away their power." (46:00)  
  • Before MAPS started, Rick realized that mass mental health would become the goal of MAPS, and it would need a dual track strategy for the medicalization of psychedelics and drug policy reform so people could have access to healing (47:00)  
  • Rick’s prediction: over the next 50 years, the bulk of humanity will realize technology can help build a better world for everyone, and we can then relax enough to feel our interconnectedness (48:00)  
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