The study of consciousness has remained a difficult topic in the sciences and humanities. Anthropology’s biocultural approach and neurophenomenological approaches, provide great benefits in superseding the paradigm bound constraints of science. A significant application of anthropological methods in the study of consciousness has involved the study of the “sacred plants,” also known as the hallucinogens, psychedelics and entheogens. These substances provide special perspectives on the nature of consciousness and the spirit world. I have coined the term “psychointegrators” as a more appropriate characterization of the experiential and physiological effects of the serotonin-based substances on consciousness.
Winkelman’s article, “Psychointegration: The Physiological Effects of Entheogens” addresses neurotheology perspectives on sacred plants.
Scientific Approaches to Psychointegrators
For regular updates on recent research on entheogens, ask Tom Roberts to add you to his listserve. His e-mail address is P80TBR1@wpo.cso.niu.edu. For scientific studies and public policy approaches to entheogens, see the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) website at http://www.maps.org.
The Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona holds biannual “Toward a Science of Consciousness Conferences” in Tucson, Arizona. For more information, please see http://consciousness.arizona.edu.
The Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness holds annual conferences. For more information, please see http://www.sacaaa.org.
DMT: The Spirit Molecule For a behind-the-scenes look at the cutting edge of brain science, especially the psychopharmacology of serotonin, check out “DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor’s Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences” by Rick Strassman, M.D., a clinical psychiatrist.
From 1990 to 1995, Dr. Rick Strassman conducted DEA-approved clinical research at the University of New Mexico in which he injected sixty volunteers with DMT (N, N-dimethyltryptamine), one of the most powerful psychedelics known. His detailed account of those sessions is an extraordinarily riveting inquiry into the nature of the human mind and the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. DMT, a plant-derived chemical that is also manufactured by the human brain, consistently produced out-of-body, near-death, and mystical experiences. Many volunteers reported convincing encounters with intelligent nonhuman presences, angels, aliens, and spirits. Nearly all agreed that the sessions were among the most intense experiences of their lives. For more information about the book, including an overview, table of contents, chapter summaries, a sample chapter, reviews, and order information; please go to Strassman’s web page at http://www.rickstrassman.com.
Therapeutic Approaches with Psychointegrators
Psychedelic Medicine and Consciousness The importance of these new perspectives on these substances is illustrated in Psychedelic Medicine: New Evidence for Hallucinogenic Substances as Treatments [2 volumes, edited by Michael J. Winkelman and Thomas B. Roberts). The contributors illustrate a wide range of applications of these psychointegrators in diseases such as cluster headaches for which biomedicine has no effect treatments.
The treatment of substance abuse, particularly cocaine and opioid addictions, is among these novel applications of the psychointegrators. These substances have also open exploration of the transpersonal realms of consciousness and provided new understandings of the nature of the transpersonal realms of consciousness and the unconscious structures of the mind.