Podcast – Episode 0158 – Psychedelics And Personal Growth

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In this episode Joel and Antonia talk about using psychedelics as tools for personal growth.

In this podcast you’ll find:

  • Riff Tracks – Reefer Madness
  • Marijuana and Cannabis have been the butt of a lot of misinformation.
  • Drugs are like anything that can have painful consequences in the wrong hands.
  • We would like to have a conversation in an attempt to shift some perspectives on this topic.
  • The opiate epidemic is ruining lives. These are not banned drugs. Doctors prescribe these opiates and people are abusing them.
  • Any time you take a substance into your body, there is a risk of abuse. Whether it is tobacco, alcohol, or an opioid.
  • The United States categorizes drugs as legal and illegal.
  • We want to talk about substances that we can use as tools for personal growth and behavior change.
  • When you open yourself up to tools that can alter your mind or body, you should be cautious.
  • Seek help if you are abusing a substance.
  • We shouldn’t fight drug use by criminalizing it.
  • There is a handful of psychotropics that have interesting results.
  • Timothy Leary – a proponent of LSD – “You have to have the right set and setting or you will have a useless experience.”
    • Set is mindset. How are you going into it? How have you prepared your mind and body?
    • Setting is your environment. Context. The people around you.
  • What you can do with LSD you can also do with meditation. But the difference is you can walk across the US, or you can fly in a jet plane.
  • Meditation will get you there, but it takes longer.
  • LSD should be used for personal growth. Not a party drug. If someone has a bad experience, what were their set and setting?
  • LSD removes the filters that define our worldview. Sensory filters that stabilize the world. Like sight.
  • Saccadic masking – blindness our brain covers over.
  • Trip indicates you are going someplace. You can bring back souvenirs from trips.
  • A lot of intention and time goes into a trip.
  • Detoxify from toxic food. Journal. Meditate. Get your mind into the right space.
  • Don’t take this experience lightly.
  • Studies have indicated that LSD can be very helpful for people dealing with PTSD.
  • It is irresponsible not to use it in medical research.
  • Hollywood and religion don’t often depict substance accurately.
  • Have respect for substance, but don’t fear it.
  • Anything that grows from the ground should not be feared.
  • Gateway drugs are gateway drugs because of the people that demonize everything.
  • So, when a kid tries something tame and realizes they were lied to about its harmful effects, they move onto more harmful substances assuming they were lied to about them too.
  • 25 or older. The brain doesn’t stop forming until 25. So, if these substances were legalized there should still be age limits.
  • LSD in the U.S. is considered Schedule 1 – which means it is of no value, including in medical research.
  • That designation should be reassessed.
  • Most people can’t have a mature conversation around this.
  • Some gifts can be given to you if you use these psychotropics responsibly.
  • MDMA – the chemical found in ecstasy – Dumps serotonin and dopamine into the system.
  • Souvenir – Massive compassion for human race.
  • Psilocybin mushroom souvenir – everything around us is just pure energy. We tell stories about everything we do.
  • Releasing attachment to the mundane.
  • Lose a sense of all the narratives you tell and get a sense of your life and everything that happens on a DNA level.
  • You continue the script from previous generations and pass it on to future generations.
  • If you want to experiment with these things, make sure you have the right set and setting. Take special care with anything that can be addictive.
  • MDMA requires caution. When it dumps the serotonin and dopamine into the system, there is a limited number of times you can do that before you burn out the receptors in your brain.
  • We aren’t advocating drugs, but we want to open up a conversation about it.
  • Talk openly about these things and consider that the stories we believe may not be true.
  • We can’t encourage you to do something illegal. At least we can start using these things in medical research.
  • Cannabis is considered Schedule 1 and its medical benefits are widely known.
  • We are advocating open dialogue.
  • We are advocating profound experiences.
  • There are ways to have these peak experiences that don’t mean illegal substances – ayahuasca is not illegal if it’s used religiously.
  • DMT is Schedule 1.
    • Look up Spirit Molecule on Youtube
  • DMT is found in everything, not just plants.  
  • Right before we die, our brain prepares for death by dumping DMT into our system. So, near death experiences when people see God or see the light is really a DMT trip. Many die in a hospital where they are anesthetized and deprived of this important near death trip.
  • Apparently, nature thinks DMT has some medical use.
  • We should re-evaluate whether these things have some medical merit.
  • Be open to talking about things. Why should we avoid subjects just because we always have?
  • Make wise decisions for yourself.
  • Consider different technologies.
  • See things from different perspectives.
  • A lot of ego transcendence work can be facilitated by occasional use of psychotropics.
  • You can get emotionally and psychologically addicted to these drugs. So care and responsibility must be taken.
  • Don’t act like these substances are no big deal. But there’s no reason to fear them.

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Showing 25 comments
  • Leo

    A great podcast and a worthy topic. Appreciate you both stepping in where others fear to tread, so to speak.

    Great comment above Antonia, on how the concept and limited definitions of control get so distorted by those with agendas. Who then in turn use them to control.

    A narrow view will always have more hard and fast definitions and limits. A wider view makes it obvious just how little one (or anyone else) really knows.

  • Shirella

    My Christian religion teaches it’s all about control. When you give your control to an outside substance, you give up your agency, and are hence, not accountable. But the substance affecting you is, so you really are, though it’s not really you. So drugs displace your accountability.

    Drugs are a counterfeit to intentional enlightenment that can otherwise be found through faith, repentance, hope, good works, serving others (a huge “trip”), charity, and being in nourishing places that grow your individual spirit–and so much more that Christian religions espouse. Yes, drugs are easier to accomplish such enlightenment, but your spirit is damaged because it was essentially ignored such that personal enlightenment inherently becomes more difficult to maintain in life without the counterfeit to joy (drugs).

    • Antonia Dodge

      Interestingly, my religious background itself was about control. It was the only path to truth and enlightenment, which in retrospect seemed very convenient for it.

      There are a lot of belief systems that claim to be the best or only way to enlightenment. For my money, I’m far more suspicious of the ones that demonize other paths (i.e. present all other avenues as counterfeit while itself stays guileless) than the ones that come with clear warning labels, acknowledging their own limitations (such as psychotropics).

      As mentioned in the podcast, all of the experiences we discuss utilize psychotropics that have zero addictive properties. I’ve personally never felt corrupted in spirit or requiring continued use to experience true joy. The religion of my youth, however, was quite addictive and actively discouraged any feelings of joy not directly associated with it.

      I feel pretty comfortable talking about the topic having experienced both sides of the coin.


  • Diana

    INTJ here. I really enjoyed the conversation. I started meditating about 10 years ago. I was fortunate to have studied with experienced meditation teachers who were part of an ashram. I never considered myself a devotee of the ashram’s guru, but benefited greatly from his teachings and his presence. I experienced a lot of what some of my friends have described during their LSD and mushroom trips while I was meditating. If you’re fortunate enough to be around someone who is considered enlightened and vibrating at a much higher energetic level than your average person, your consciousness will be greatly enhanced and reality altered in such a way where nothing is the same anymore. You’ll be a very different person. That was my experience anyway.

    As for intentional experimentation with psychotropics, I never have. But I want to. Antonia, do the mediation retreats you went on still go on?

    Thanks for the podcast!

  • Peter

    Wonderful insights and Understanding of societies more taboo subjects, Your first hand experiences and outcomes on a personal level are inspiring and highly educating,this is one of the most lucid and profound podcasts i have the pleasure to listen to,Period! You are both to be Congratulated!!.

  • Maria

    INTJ – As a therapist and a strong advocate of Maps (Multidisciplinary Association For Psychedelic Studies) I was delighted that you guys have raised this conversation!!

    Not only are some of the substances mentioned incredibly useful for personal development, when used responsibly in the right setting they can also potentially save the lives of people who have undergone trauma and are suffering from treatment resistant PTSD (MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy), or who are suffering from debilitating addictions(Psilocybin treatment), as is being demonstrated in clinical trials in the US and in Europe. Neither MDMA or Psilocybin are addictive (unlike alcohol and nicotine) and yet these substances are illegal, despite (as in the case of MDMA) substantial data in regard to their effectiveness in treating life threatening conditions. Its totally crazy!

    Bravo to you guys for being brave enough to bring up this delicate subject and help
    raise awareness : )

  • bjm

    INFP in general agreement.

    We might say ALL things, substances, actions, relationships, thoughts etc. have a duality or polarity to them (at least in the human experiential realm): positive/negative, pleasure/pain, ecstasy/terror, freedom/addiction. Society and culture with its (particular) conventions and traditions also has polar dividing lines: this substance/behavior is okay (alcohol, cigarettes), that substance/behavior is not (marijuana, LSD, shrooms, MDMA), and the not-okay ones get symbolized/stigmatized as dark, deadly, and playing with the devil (“devil weed”) — and you will be ostracized by being put in prison.

    At the same time, in the explicit, rational, analytical US/West we seem more afraid of the hidden, messy, organic, deep, dark, nonrational “magical” realms of experience and mind. Of course many “primitive” tribes honor and explore those realms through set/setting/facilitation of ritual, initiation, shamanic knowledge, “spirit medicine”. We seem to have lost that or dissociated from this aspect of the human experience in the West while labeling it as primitive, unimportant, terrifying, or a threat to society.

  • KD

    Using ecstasy in my 20’s/30’s changed my life for the better in so many ways. It might not be for everyone, but I have no regrets.

    I was able to open myself up with people and express things I could not before. Sharing this with my friends at the time bonded us together. That closeness was not limited to the club, it was pervasive in all of our actions. It’s hard to describe.

    Using MDMA was an extremely positive influence in my life. I would do it again if I could get my hands on it.

  • Maddie

    Thanks so much for this! INFJ entering graves five here; I had some troubling experiences in college with psychedelics, where the set and setting definitely weren’t in place (and don’t get me started on toxins… Bad food, coffee, alcohol… Ugh). This podcast has given me the affirmation to accept myself for being deeply interested in psychedelics, as well as the structure to use them in mature, productive, researched & respectful ways. Maybe I’ll wait until graves 6 to pursue this, or maybe this is part of my level 5 passion project …? My harmony copilot won’t let me be a drug lord, so I’ll have to get creative to make money off spreading the word on this. (Kidding 🙂 )

    • Joel Mark Witt

      Thanks Maddie for joining the conversation around this. I think Graves 6 / Spiral Dynamics Green is one of the best places to discover this for yourself.

  • Jeff Seager

    Thanks for a very thoughtful and rational perspective on psychoactive substances. I have very little direct experience (more than 40 years ago) with mescaline and psilocybin, considerably less with cocaine, and quite a bit of sporadic marijuana use. I’ve spent significant time around people who abused many substances, and even more significant time around people who have never so much as sipped a beer. Your own experiences resonated with mine, and I agree with your thoughts about decriminalization and responsible use.

    I had the opportunity in 1987 or thereabouts to interview Dr. Timothy Leary after he spoke at Bowling Green State University (Ohio). I had done a lot of research about his work at Harvard, and I knew enough about his LSD experiments there that he opened up and candidly discussed his thoughts about hallucinogens. “Yes, I said that,” he sighed when I mentioned the familiar “tune in, turn on, drop out” that led Life Magazine to crown him The High Priest of LSD.

    After a long pause, he smiled.

    “I have never advocated the indiscriminate use of drugs,” he said, “although I’ve benefitted greatly from almost daily use of illegal substances.”

    Here he looked me right in the eye, friendly but not smiling so much anymore.

    “There are some people who should never use drugs, and they are always the people who don’t know they’re the people who should never use drugs.”

    We were in a local pizza joint, a tray of nachos and two beers (and two empties) between us. Maybe the beer was going to my head, but in that moment those words had an air of genius in them. They still do, whenever I see meth-heads and pillheads stumbling around in the empty shells of their bodies.

    When you spoke about “set” and “setting” in relation to controlled use of hallucinogens, those terms were new to me but the concepts were not. I wasn’t surprised to hear you attribute them to him.

    In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Timothy Leary was actually doing the kind of controlled experiments you seem to be advocating today. In the Concord (Massachusetts) State Prison, his guided LSD “trips” had a profound effect on the consciousness of prisoners and dramatically reduced their recidivism rate. When Life Magazine published a story about this work, only a few years after publishing a story about the U.S. Army irresponsibly experimenting with LSD on unknowing soldiers, those very different stories were conflated in a public psyche that had been conditioned with such nonsense as “Reefer Madness.” Harvard caved in response to the public outcry, and Leary lost his job and started hanging out with hippies.

    Anyway, I thought you’d appreciate Leary’s quote but I didn’t mean to write a book on your blog! I love the podcast. Thanks for all your good thoughts and good work. Looking forward to hearing what you do next.

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for sharing, Jeff! We appreciate more insight into Leary’s mind. 🙂

    • Joel Mark Witt

      Jeff. Appreciate your perspective into Leary’s ideas around this. I wish I had the chance to meet and talk with him. I think he was WAY ahead of his time. He’s becoming more relevant as time moves on IMO.

  • Vicki

    Thanks to you for a very responsible, informative perspective on using psychedelics for personal growth. It is refreshing to hear how some drugs can be used in a personally positive way and not just all viewed as dangerous and to be avoided at all costs. There are indeed positive, life-changing, profound realizations that can be attained from responsible psychedelic use. –INTJ-approved : )

    • Joel Mark Witt

      Thanks Vicki for adding your thoughts to the conversation. I think the key (like you mentioned) is responsible use.

  • luca pelle - entj

    personally i’m not on board with experimenting or trying to attain something from any drug. any state of mind or mindset you should develop naturally through a good diet, exercise and practice. if you think that even the soft drugs are harmless you need to open your eyes and look around the world, outside of some states of the US. A drug that is useful should be used to achieve a specific result, legally and not for recreational use. that being said i can’t see drugs going away legal or not, the wars and violence and destruction of life will continue. definitely not something to promote.

    • Antonia Dodge

      Thanks for adding to the conversation.

      I have to admit, what you’re saying is stuff I’ve heard for a long time and that goes directly against both my personal experience and my logic. If you listened to the full podcast you would know we mentioned there’s need for caution (we stated that many, many times), but that assuming all drug use is bad (unless prescribed) is a conversation worth reevaluating.

      There are some strong arguments that legalizing currently prohibited drugs would cut the legs out from under the black market, rendering it useless. That would have global impact, and if that hypothesis even COULD be true it’s worth reconsidering how we feel about drug use in general. We also mentioned seeing drug abuse as a medical issue, not a criminal issue. This would also create dramatic change on a global level.

      I strongly recommend spending some time with these concepts and not pulling from how you’ve always felt on the matter. You may come to the same conclusion at the end of your exploration of the topic, but there is much to be gleaned by using your perceiving process of Ni here and not just your evaluative process of Te.


  • Undo

    Second INTP seal of approval

  • Nicole

    INFJ approved also, although a mention of precaution around mental illness would be well placed I believe. Particularly around bipolar and schizophrenia.

    • Joel Mark Witt

      I think you make a good point Nicole. Appreciate the caution around these issues.

  • Michael

    INTP approved.

  • Liz

    BRAVO to you guys for starting a long overdue conversation!

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