Anthropological and art historical data suggests that psychedelic plants have been used for thousands of years. When these naturally occurring compounds were able to be synthesized in a lab, it was possible to explore their medicinal and therapeutic use. The discovery of LSD and serotonin in the 1940’s and Thorazine in the early 50’s ushered in a new era of research into how drugs affect the psyche. Psychedelic research was banned by the government when they moved from a controlled setting to the streets. This ban has been lifted starting in the 1990’s resulting in a psychedelic renaissance that continues. We are now looking at psychedelics as an integrative approach to treating PTSD, end of life anxiety, addictions and cluster headaches. This class will help bridge the gap between the information scholars and scientists have discovered and what the general public knows.
At the end of the course, students will be familiar with the history of the use of psychedelics, the implications of the drug war on society, how psychedelics can be used to treat specific intractable conditions and their influence on art, politics, and creativity. Topics also include drug scheduling by the DEA, use of psychedelics in Church ceremonies, psychotherapy, medicine, drug facts and effects. Other topics include etymology of psychedelic terms, psychedelic research, its’ impact on culture and creativity.
This course will be of particular interest for students in the fields of human services, social work, psychology and addiction. The underlying theme in this course is consciousness, which plays a role in the disciplines mentioned. Psychedelic research is about entering a state of (supervised) chemically induced altered consciousness to facilitate healing. Students might be working with clients who are in crisis due to their own conscious (or unconscious) struggles. One of the specific topics covered is how to deal with people who have had psychedelic experiences that they are unable to integrate into their lives.
This course is also of interest to those studying religion, who might be interested in consciousness from a spiritual perspective. One of the topics covered is the religious use of psychedelics for spiritual growth. Anthropology students will find the historical perspective of man’s search for enlightenment to be of interest to them also. Art students will enjoy the topics of creativity and psychedelic influence on art.
Overall, the course will help students develop critical thinking skills necessary to achieve their academic goals. Scientific research and public policy will be analyzed by students to learn skills that will be of benefit to them not just in their chosen field, but in their lives as well.