It's long been known that psychedelic substances expand normal functions and perceptions of the brain. Psychedelic use isn't a recent phenomenon. In fact, virtually every culture on every continent over eons has ingested consciousness-altering plants and used them medicinally and in rituals.
But many readers would be surprised to learn that Nobel Laureate Francis Crick received a vision of the double helix DNA when he was under the influence of LSD, or that Apple founder Steve Jobs counts his psychedelic voyages among the "two or three most important things" he's done in his life.
Despite the fact that the federal government shut down psychedelic research some 45 years ago and made its use illegal, 23 million Americans have taken a psychedelic since then, and it's estimated that more than 600 thousand Americans will try psychedelics this year.
Today, there's a recent resurgence of scientific and medical research on the healing potential of psychedelics. Important clinical research on psychedelics is being conducted at Johns Hopkins, Harvard, and elsewhere that may offer new hope and help for cancer patients, cluster headache sufferers, heroin addicts, U.S. veterans with PTSD, autistic children, and patients with many other medical conditions. There's also renewed interest in psychedelic use as a vehicle for personal growth and exploration, for problem solving, and as a way to trigger artistic and creative breakthroughs.
Enter Dr. James Fadiman, psychologist, professor, and America's most respected authority on psychedelics. Dr. Fadiman was one of the people involved with totally legal psychedelic research during the 1960s with the Harvard Group, the West Coast Research Group in Menlo Park, and Ken Kesey. Now he's written a fascinating new book, The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys (Park Street Press, 2011), in which he clears up current myths and misperceptions about psychedelics, and presents findings from both long-neglected and recent clinical studies, research experiments, and surveys showing a surprising range of benefits from safe, supervised psychedelic use.