Rick Doblin, Activist and MAPS Founder Part 2

June 15, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life

Part 2: How Psychedelics Unlock Our Ability to Heal

Rick Doblin is the Founder and Executive Director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a touchstone for psychedelic and cannabis research since 1986.

MAPS’ efforts dedicated to moving the needle of progress forward on making MDMA-assisted psychotherapy an approved treatment for PTSD have been enormously influential.

For this two-part series, we sat down with Rick to learn from his 35+ years in the alternative therapy treatment and psychedelics space. Our conversation covers:

  • The literal effect of psychedelics on the human brain
  • Understanding traditional medications vs. alternative treatments
  • Why Rick believes Nue Life is a positive step toward the future

What are the real-time effects of psychedelics on a patient?

There’s one way to summarize it that many of us understand. Almost everyone recognizes that when we dream, we exist in a different state of consciousness.

It’s as if there are many powerful stories and emotions we’re trying to communicate to ourselves through those stories in sleep. There’s lucid dreaming, but we rarely get to influence the plot.

So there is this flow and dialogue between the unconscious and conscious minds that we recognize in dreams. Psychedelics are similar to that in a different flavor.

Returning to Innate Healing

Ultimately, the body possesses a healing intelligence that I believe we all know and can feel comforted by. If you get a scratch, your body will work to piece itself back together.

There’s almost a somatic wisdom that’s been developed throughout billions of years.

So we believe there’s a similar healing drive surrounding the psyche, but trauma, depression, and other mental factors exacerbated by external elements block the healing process.

In response, psychedelics can resurface everything we’ve suppressed. For example:

  • MDMA can reduce fear by reducing activity in the amygdala, which is responsible for processing emotional reactions like fear, anxiety, or aggression.
  • Psilocybin reduces activity in the default mode network, so mental material comes to the surface where we can process it or let it out.

That is — if there’s a proper therapeutic approach. For psychedelics to take a healing effect, patients need a safe, supportive setting and proper preparation and integration.

What separates alternative treatments from traditional medications?

There’s an unfortunately frequent response when an individual is struggling. The common refrain from those around them is to seek help and, if warranted, medication as a solution.

Basically, you hear, “Hey, go find someone to give you medicine for your depression.”

But these medications — if they work for you and don’t bring on side effects — really only address the symptoms at hand, not the core issue.

Uncovering the Root

Conversely, if you take a comprehensive approach to psychedelics therapy, you can really get to the root of your problems.

Honestly, it might seem worse at first. If your deeply repressed emotions are rising to the surface, as I mentioned, you might end up crying, wailing, and screaming.

Many traumatized individuals were suppressing unbearable things because they had just to survive. When they start thinking about it again, it’s overwhelming.

Under the influence of psychedelics, those buried experiences rise to the surface. That’s why we always emphasize the need for preparation and support from a therapist you trust.

Find the Right Support

If you’re in a safe space for the session, if you set intentions and ready yourself before the experience begins — you can let the thoughts move through you rather than swallow you.

You’re in that in-between, uninhibited state of mind, where memories can move from the foreground to the background, from always happening to something that happened in the past.

People mention neuroplasticity a lot around psychedelics. We’re discovering that they can actually promote the growth of new neural connections in different areas of the brain.

We say you’re breaking old thought patterns — and you are actually rewiring your brain.

Again, this is why we emphasize getting the right support. You could end up worse off if you enter a vulnerable state with the wrong structure. But you can also end up much better off.

How soon will these therapeutic benefits take effect?

This is one thing that is similar to traditional medications for anxiety and depression. I tell people to try and move past this idea of the miraculous one-dose cure.

It was a big hope in the ’60s: “One dose, you’re enlightened, and you’re done.” But it’s typically a sequence of experiences following preparation and integration.

We find people go deeper in the second session than the first because they’ve learned about themselves, their therapist, how the drug works, etc.

As the therapeutic process goes on, the patient realizes they don’t have to be overwhelmed because they are genuinely capable of processing these emotions.

Why are you excited about Nue Life?

In 2022, we want to make it so people feel confident that, if they go somewhere for mental health care, they’ll feel safe and successful in going the psychedelics route.

I mean, we’re still working with this reservoir of over 50 years of fear-based misinformation. Lies about the “lethal nature” of smoking cannabis still run pretty deep.

So I do love how Nue Life focuses on repairing, improving, and optimizing the therapeutic relationship in the alternative treatments space. It’s not just about administering drugs.

Read part one of our conversation here

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