Strassman Redux

We earlier wrote here about psychopharmacologist Rick Strassman, and the dramatic end of his DMT research, which he abandoned in the face of personal pressures, family crises, and dismay at unexpected reports of encounters with alien beings.

Strassman, after taking some time off to work as a weaver, has now returned to hallucinogen research, joining with toxicologist and neurochemist Steven A. Barker to found the Cottonwood Research Foundation, whose projects include developing an ultra-sensitive assay to detect naturally occurring tryptamine hallucinogens in humans, in both normal and non-normal states, and an assessment of the effects of ayahuasca in a group of normal volunteers, with the goal of developing treatment protocols in collaboration with drug abuse treatment facilities.

Strassman is still struggling with his earlier findings, which he describes as truly paradigm-challenging, and which, he says, he could not adequately integrate into his scientific world view. Strikingly, he has now collaborated with anthropologist Luis Eduardo Luna, a pioneer in the study of mestizo shamanism, and Ede Frecska, a psychopharmacologist who has worked with ayahuasca, to produce a volume of collected essays focusing on the use of psychedelics to journey to alien worlds. Here he focuses on reports of what he calls invisible worlds experienced by his earlier DMT volunteers, including their reported contacts with alien beings. These reports, he says, went far beyond any scientific training he had brought to the research. But he has had to accept, he now says, that the reports were descriptions of things that were real — that they occurred in reality, “although not in a reality we usually inhabit.” He now hypothesizes that DMT, like a telescope or microscope, allows us access to a world previously unknown to our everyday perceptual apparatus. He is, he says, teetering dangerously on the edge between respectable and pseudo-science.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad to see that Strassman has returned to his research. The future of legitimate psychedelics research seems to interwoven with his career. My only hope is that he doesn't do anything to undermind the festidiously objective nature of his past work.