Robert Forte: “I am suspicious of the media hyping psychedelics so much”

Robert Forte is a scholar and researcher of psychedelic drugs. He first studied with Frank Barron, who started the Psylocybin project at Harvard with Timothy Leary in 1963. In 1981 he moved to Esalen to study with Stanislav Grof, then attended the Divinity School, University of Chicago. During this time he conducted independent investigation of MDMA. Robert continued his studies underground for several years before becoming a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1991. He became a director of the Albert Hoffmann Foundation in 1993. From 1993to 1996 he spent a lot of time with  r. Timothy Leary while working on his next book, Timothy Leary, Outside Looking In. From 2003 to 2009 Robert investigated the effects of ayahuasca on cancer patients in Peru. Currently adjunct faculty at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. He is the editor of Entheogens and the Future of Religion.

At BP 2018, Robert will will discuss the use of psychedelics for social engineering in his talk: Psychedelic Movements: Sacred and Profane

  1. How do you feel about the current situation around psychedelics?

Different ways. Psychedelics are powerful and useful, but I’m suspicious that the mainstream media is hyping them so much.

  1. What do you consider to be the biggest challenges of the current psychedelic movement?

I think there is not one psychedelic movement but several. When governments and corporations get involved for profit or political incentives we have a problem. Many use and understand these drugs for expanding consciousness and creativity and personal freedom. Others use them for profit and control.  The big challenge is to know the difference.

  1. Do you think psychedelic experience (and/or altered state of consciousness induced by other means) should be a part of training for mental health professionals?

No, certainly not.  That is crazy.

  1. How do you envision the ideal society in terms of psychoactive substances and altered states of consciousness?

Where they are freely available, not controlled by an elite or by institutions or government, and where they can not be profited from in any way.  So just pure spirtual, therapeutic use controlled by individuals.

  1. What do you consider to be the greatest benefit of psychedelics?

They can change your consciousness, reveal deeper mysteries, and make you laugh.

  1. We believe in the importance of interdisciplinary, intercultural and international collaboration. Between which areas do you think new synergies would be effective to develop? Which of those synergies already happening do you see as the biggest potentials for the future of psychedelic studies? Do you think that western science and practice should collaborate more with the traditional healers?

All areas. Most important to evade central control.  Collaborate with, maybe, more like leave them alone. It is up to them.  Most of western science has been an intrusion into these cultures. We should find our own way to the mysteries without just copying and exploiting theirs.

  1. What roles should psychedelics have in our society? (which areas of life, what purpose of use, who should use them)

Freely available as sacraments or recreational, curative agents. Not contaminated by the profit motive or evangelism.

  1. Which is your favorite psychedelic substance and why?

I like them all at certain times.

  1. What do you see as the “shadow sides” or “dark sides” of psychedelics? Which topics do you feel are not being presented enough or appropriately.

The extent that this renaissance is a psychological operation by political agencies in opposition to the benefits of the global community.

  1. Since your own personal experience plays a big role, would you be open to sharing some of your own psychedelic experiences – which were the most beneficial / harmful / strange for you?

I would be open in certain contexts where mysteries were discussed by understanding like minded people.