The Shadow Sides of Psychedelics

We often hear about beneficial effects of psychedelics, altered states of consciousness, and technologies. But their potential has been used also in destructive ways, or have caused harm unintentionally through their inappropriate use. Are you aware of any of these kinds of practices?
Or have you had experience of this firsthand – as a patient, user, researcher or practitioner? Come to share and discuss the shadows of psychedelic research and practice, shamanism, altered states of consciousness, and technologies!

In recent years, media, as well as scientific journals, talks and conferences are full of reports of the almost magical power of psychedelics. Even scientists’ lectures often resemble sophisticated advertisements more than anything else. This may be a way to balance the stigmatism of psychedelics, almost as a reaction to the unreasonable backlash against them in previous decades. Can we ever really rationally integrate psychedelics if we don’t present them objectively? If we don’t accept them as they are, with their shadows and gaps? If we don´t review the pitfalls and limitations of the psychedelic movement?

The Shadow Sides
Human history is littered with trials and errors which have resulted in our misuse of discoveries, including psychedelics, altered states of consciousness and technologies. Today, as never before, we have the beautiful opportunity to learn from those errors, if we choose to address them, discuss them and learn from them.

Most of us are probably already aware, either from an individual, global or natural perspective, what happens when psychedelics DON’T change anything, when they DON’T work, or even when they make things WORSE. Are you aware of any of that? Have you realized it is also not just about healing, beauty, and love? Do you know about the malpractices? Or have you had experience of this firsthand?

Researchers, scientists, are you aware of the limitations of your research, limitations which have not been communicated properly, or were communicated but the importance of which went unheeded? Has your hypothesis been rejected? To what extent does clinical research reflect the real (current or future) practice? Does it say anything reliable about psychedelics in real world at all?

Practitioners, psychedelic therapy still has no set rules, committees, etc. Everyone working with psychedelic therapy, even in non-pharmacological practices, knows that there have been times when his/her intervention was not very effective. When did you realize that you could have intervened in another way? Did you ever realize too late that psychedelics should not have been administered to someone? Have you experienced ego-inflation by being the one working with psychedelics? Did you come to the place where you believed you were better than others or had delusions of grandeur? Have you ever experienced spiritual bypass? Have you ever crossed the boundaries in relationships with your patients?

Psychonauts, has your experimentation lead you to places where you were lost? Have you, at times, taken a long time to recover from the experience? Have you experienced a psycho-spiritual crisis or spiritual addiction, and how did you become aware of that? Have you been maltreated at psychedelic sessions or ceremonies? Of course you have. As humans, our destiny is to be mistaken sometimes, to be lost, not to provide the best care, etc. It is ok. What is not ok is to deny this simple fact.

In whatever capacity, we all want to look good, whether you are a researcher, practitioner, psychonaut. There is nothing wrong with that. Therefore, we have a deep respect for those who are open in sharing their failures, mistakes, and lessons learned, so that we can all grow together.

Please help us make this section a rich group of lessons from which we can learn, improve our critical thinking, and get our feet back on the ground, where they belong.