Mainstreaming psychedelics. Are we there yet?
The biomedical research model has been extraordinarily successful in re-introducing psychedelic drugs to the larger scientific community and popular culture. Moderate doses, strict attention to non-drug factors, and a modest relationship with the media all have contributed to this success.
However, the biomedical research model has done less to mainstream the psychedelic experience. Rather, one reads about psychedelic drug effects on drug abuse or depression, or views images of functional brain scans demonstrating mathematically significant data. The actual experience, on the other hand, is transformed into relatively abstract categories; e.g., “bliss,” “highly significant,” or “openness.” Only short narrative excerpts by research subjects may appear in the welter of statistical analyses … This restraint in discussing the full spectrum of the psychedelic experience is practical and successful. However, it should not at the same time constrict discussion of the psychedelic drug experience within the academic community, nor limit explanatory model-building. I encourage us to use the widest, not the narrowest, spectrum of disciplines’ models of the mind-brain complex for this project. By so doing, we’ll develop the most sophisticated models of the psychedelic drug effect … I believe that the rush to establish a biomedical research orthodoxy of psychedelics’ spiritual effects reflects uneasiness in its relationship with non-mainstream effects of these drugs.