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The Psychedelic Renaissance: Promise and Pitfalls

Lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly abbreviated as LSD or acid, is a drug well known for its psychological, mind altering effects and its key role in the 1960s counter culture. Conventional wisdom argues that the purpose of psychedelics is limited to a fairly interesting but hardly intellectual or result-oriented journey. In a reflection of this mindset, the state of California outlawed LSD in the fall of 1966, which precipitated a similar reaction by the federal government and numerous other states. And yet, this narrative runs counter to key testimonies of innovators deriving benefits from LSD. In a widely reported line from his biography, Steve Jobs told his interviewer that, “Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life.” Francis Crick admitted that he was on acid when he comprehended the double helix. The Beatles so admired LSD that they wrote a song in its honor. To understand this contradiction and the possible benefits of LSD, Dr. James Fadiman has dedicated his life to psychedelic research.

In his latest book, The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic and Sacred Journeys (2011), Dr. James Fadiman contends that LSD can be used in safe and effective manner to serve at least three purposes: creative problem solving, therapy, and spirituality. Fadiman describes the best practices for safe, sacred “entheogenic voyages” using his more than 40 years of experience and the benefits of everything from having a guide during session to the importance of setting to outlining pre-session intention.

Fadiman is known as, “America’s wisest and most respected authority on psychedelics and their use.” Fadiman received his B.A. from Harvard University in Social Relations, his M.A., and his Ph.D from Stanford in Psychology. In 1966, he was a researcher for the International Foundation for Advanced Study, a privately funded facility dedicated to psychedelic drug research, until that organization was ordered to stop by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. James Fadiman is a former director of IONS, teaches at Sofia University, formerly the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, in Palo Alto, California, which he cofounded in 1975.