top_2_1.jpg top_2_2.jpg
The Psychedelic Renaissance
Reassessing the Role of Psychedelic Drugs in 21st Century Psychiatry and Society
The Psychedelic Renaissance
Click on image to enlarge

Ben Sessa - Author
Muswell Hill Press
Paperback - 249 pages
Release Date: September 2012
ISBN10: 1-908995-00-9
ISBN13: 978-1-908995-00-1

Out of Print

Summary Read First Chapter image missing

Makes the case for the reevaluation of psychedelics and their clinical potential for treating a range of conditions, from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression to autism and cluster headaches.

Psychedelics were inextricably associated with the hippie counterculture of the 1960s and, more recently, with the rave music scene, and were once believed to hold great promise for treating a number of medical conditions as well as providing access to profound spiritual experiences. However, legal restrictions on the use of such drugs effectively forced them underground and brought clinical research to a halt—until recently.

In this book, psychiatrist Dr. Ben Sessa makes a persuasive case for the reevaluation of psychedelics—LSD, MDMA (“ecstasy”), DMT, psilocybin, ayahuasca, peyote ibogaine, and more—as he explores their clinical potential for treating a range of conditions from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression to autism and cluster headaches. Based on a thorough review of the evidence, Sessa corrects some common misconceptions about psychedelics and makes a clarion call for their responsible therapeutic use, with appropriate set and setting, in psychotherapy, psychiatry, and personal growth.

“Although books on psychedelics abound, volumes like The Psychedelic Renaissance show how the field is now addressing the substance of findings from recent research rather than the legions of case reports and anecdotes … Sessa enthusiastically progresses his account of the potential of psychedelic drugs into spirituality and creativity, bringing his unique clinical background to consider concepts too often neglected in psychiatric illness.” — The Lancet

Ben Sessa is a NHS Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist working in Tauton, Somerset, United Kingdom with children and young people with a range of severe mental disorders. He trained in medicine at University College London and is a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Distributed for Muswell Hill Press

Bookmark and Share

Table of Contents

Rick Doblin and David Nutt

Apocalypse, Now and Then
What Can the Psychedelics Offer Us?
Defi ning Psychedelic Drugs
Brain Toxins
Sacramental Gifts
Alien Visitors
Dangerous Drugs of Abuse
Research and Clinical Tools
The Joy of Hippie Culture

1. Personal Reflection

Just Missed the Sixties
From a Pair of Crutches to a Pair of Turntables
Mind over Matter
Where Did All the Flowers Go?
Discovering the Lost History
Turn On, Tune In and Disseminate
Validation from Senior Figures
Closure of the Past and Foundation for the Future
Undreamt of Possibilities for Therapy

2. The Experience and the Drugs

Why Do They Do It and What’s It Like?
1. Physiological effects
2. Heightening or distortion of perceptions in all sensory modalities
3. Altered sense of space and time
4. ‘Cinematographic’ effects
5. Regressive behaviour and an increased recall of childhood memories
6. Increased sensitivity to the feelings of others
7. Religious or spiritual experience
8. Being at one with the universe
9. Psychotic/delirious changes
As a Neuroscientist, What Does All This Mean?
1. Unity
2. Objectivity and reality
3. Transcendence of space and time
4. Sense of sacredness
5. Deeply felt positive mood
6. Paradoxicality
7. Alleged ineffability
8. Transiency
9. Positive changes in attitude and/or behaviour
The Importance of Set and Setting
Careful Planning, Due Care and Attention
How to Take LSD Safely
Personal Opinion, Matter of Judgment and Disclaimer
Embracing the Challenge
The Drugs Themselves
Classifying the Psychedelic Drugs
The ‘Classical’ Psychedelics
The Entactogens or Empathogens
The NMDA-antagonist Dissociatives
The Kappa-Opioid Agonist Dissociatives
Tryptamines (or those psychedelic drugs closely related to it)
Some Common Psychedelic Substances in More Detail
1. LSD
2. Psilocybin
3. N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)
4. Mescaline
5. 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)
6. Ketamine
7. Some Other Phenethylamines

3. Early Pioneers of the First and Second Psychedelic Eras

The First Psychedelic Era: 1880 to 1930
The Second Psychedelic Era: 1938 to 1976
Hofmann the Creative Explorer
LSD Comes to Blighty for the First Time
Just an Average Day at Work
Will LSD be the Next Big Thing in Psychiatry?
LSD as a Psychotomimetic
Enter Dr Humphrey Osmond
Using LSD to Treat Alcohol Dependency
Enter Aldous Huxley
A Brief Mention of Al Hubbard
Huxley the Conservative
Stanislav Grof and the Perinatal Matrices
Harvard University and Timothy Leary
Leary Discovers the Divine Mushroom
Leary Graduates to LSD
God in a Bottle
God in Bottle? Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea
Things Start to Change and Doctors Get Nervous
A Good Thing Turned Sour, but Outcomes Remain Good
Did Psychedelic Therapy Actually Work in the 1960s?
The Anti-Psychiatry Psychiatrist with a Passion for LSD
Prohibition and Ecstasy

4. The Prehistory and Ancient History of Hallucinogens

Contemplation of Navels
Sitting Around and Coming Up with God
Portal for the Immortal
Back to the Cave People
Mushrooms Gave Us Thought and Thinking Gave Us Language
The Mushroom Cycle
The Birth of Religion
Many Religions Can Trace Their Roots to Psychedelic Drugs
Eleusinian Rites
Psychedelic Drugs at the Heart of Christianity
Modern Spirituality in Europe: The Middle Ages and Witches
Psychoactive Plants Available to Europeans in the Middle Ages
Witches, Witchcraft, Ergotism and Witch-hunts
Stigmatisation of Mental Illness
Hunting Down and Persecuting Psychedelic Users Has Not Gone Away
Spaghetti Monsters and Pot Head Pixies
The Varieties of Religious and Psychedelic Experiences
Wrestling Bliss off the Church
Conclusion and Confusion about Collusion with the Delusion

5. Hippie Heydays, Ravers and the Birth of Ecstasy

Meet the Hippies
Who’s Going to Take All the Credit — or the Blame?
The Beat Generation
One Flew East, One Flew West and One Took LSD and Bought a School Bus
The Californian Proto-Hippies Get a Place of Their Own
Literally, Psychedelically Mind-expanding Words
Did JFK Drop LSD?
Leary Leaves Harvard and the Fun Really Begins
Suddenly LSD is Everywhere
The Psychedelic Music Scene
Read All About It
It’s All Too Much
Lose Your Mind — but be Sure You’re Home for Tea
Wales, London, Goat-breeding and a WPC Called Julie
Haight, Collapse and Blame: It’s All LSD’s Fault
But it’s Not All Doom and Gloom
LSD, Computer Geeks and Green Activists: A New Age of Social Enlightenment
It’s Not All over Yet
Ecstasy is Upon Us
The Grandfather of MDMA Meets His Grandson for the First Time
MDMA Becomes Too Popular, Gets Banned and MAPS is Born
Banning MDMA Gives Birth to Ecstasy and Rave
Modern Raving, Festivals and Shamanism: Come Together
Kids on E
Demonization of Ecstasy
MDMA Research On the Ropes and Labels On the Wrong Bottles
Doblin Meets Mithoefer at a Conference for the Spiritual Vine
Things Start Looking Up for MDMA Research

6. Psychedelic Creativity

Measuring the Influence of Psychedelics on Creativity
Creativity, Psychedelics and the Human Brain
Art, Music and Psychedelic Creativity
Studying How Psychedelics Influence Creativity
A Really Nice Study by James Fadiman and Colleagues
Commercial and Design Applications for Psychedelic Creativity: LSD Architecture
From Double-helix DNA to San Franciscan Hippies and Geeks with Mice
Clinical Applications for Psychedelic Creativity: Autism
The Future Looks Creative for Psychedelic Research

7. Modern Uses of Natural Plant and Fungi Psychedelics

Wasson All the Fuss About?
Mazatec Magic Mushroom Morning Mayhem
He Sees When You are Sleeping He Knows When You’re Awake
Objections to the Mushroom Cult
The Long-standing Use of Peyote Cacti
Ibogaine: Natures Anti-addiction Plant
The Eerie Effects of the Diviner’s Sage: Salvia Divinorum
The Sacred Vine: Ayahuasca
But What is It All About?
The Ceremony
Ayahuasca Through the Ages
Ayahuasca in Modern Times
The Weed: The Risks, Benefi ts, Chemistry and Culture of Cannabis
Indian Cannabis
East African and Jamaican Rastafarianism and Cannabis
The Killer Weed is Here to Stay
This is What I tell My Teenage Patients About Cannabis
Being a ‘Psychedelic Consultant’ for Music Television
If in South Africa, One Must Try the Plant Sceletium
When in Australia You May Wish to Consider Cane Toad Licking?
If You Get to Tonga, You May Want to Check Out the Kava
Next Stop India, for Indian Snakeroot
Calamus! Calamus! Will You Do the Fandango?
If You Stop in South East Asia, Be Sure to Ask for Kratom
Nonda Mushrooms
The ‘Rubbish’ Pitohui Bird
The Fierce Agara Leaves of Papua New Guinea
The Visionary Plants of Africa
The Zulu’s Strawfl ower Smoke
Pandanus Nuts
What Happened to the Dirty Sanchez Boys?

8. The Psychedelic Renaissance Part One: Movers and Shakers

A Coming Together of Disparate Tribes
Some Important Contemporary Psychedelic Organisations
1. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)
2. The Heffter Research Institute
3. The Beckley Foundation
4. Council of Spiritual Practice
5. The Gaia Media Foundation
6. Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics
7. Breaking Convention
8. The Open Foundation
9. Erowid
10. Bluelight
11. Shroom with a View
12. Neurosoup
13. Reality Sandwich
14. Regeneration
15. Psychedelic Spirituality Forum
16. Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Some Important Contemporary Psychedelic Researchers

9. The Psychedelic Renaissance Part Two: Contemporary Studies

When Did the Psychedelic Renaissance Begin?
How to Get a Drug to Market
How This Research Method Relates to Psychedelic Drugs
Looking at the Contemporary Research for the Drugs
2. LSD
3. Psilocybin
4. Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)
5. Ayahuasca
6. Ketamine
7. Ibogaine

10. Psychedelics Caught in the Crossfi re of the War on Drugs

Crime Pays War is a Money-spinner But for Whom?
Evidence-based Decriminalisation and Temple Balls
MDMA: Are We Throwing the Baby Out with the Bathwater?
Those Evil Blacks and Mexican Drug Users
Just How Dangerous is MDMA?
How Frequently are Clinical Syndromes Attributed to Ecstasy Use?
Unscientifi c Attitudes Affecting Medical Research
The Socio-political Agenda on Drugs has a Deleterious Effect on Medical Research
Medical Research with Psychedelics Requires Courage
The Concept of Harm Minimisation
Demonization of Prohibition
Why Does This Issue Matter?
Recreational Drug Use for Psycho-spiritual Growth
In Conclusion


Back to the Future
Psychiatry Needs Psychedelics, and Psychedelics Need Psychiatry
Prehistoric and Recent Psychotherapy with Psychedelics
The Problem with Psychiatry
Why Psychedelic Medicine Works
The Problem with the Recreational Use of Psychedelics
The Problem with the Medical Use of Psychedelics
Resolution of These Problems
Summary of this Book and Orientation for Future Direction

Bibliography and Further Reading

Related Subjects

Related Titles

Nietzsche's Presence in Freud's Life and Thought
Nietzsche's Presence in Freud's Life and Thought
After Lacan
After Lacan
The Meaning of Irony
The Meaning of Irony
Dreaming about the Divine
Dreaming about the Divine
Variations on a Theme
Variations on a Theme
Integral Theory in Action
Integral Theory in Action
Integral Recovery
Integral Recovery
The Golden Mean
The Golden Mean
Imagination and Ethical Ideals
Imagination and Ethical Ideals
Reading Seminar XI
Reading Seminar XI