November 28, 2018

Unlocking the brain with psychedelics part 1 of 2 – The medical application

BY :     November 28, 2018

The previous blog in my ongoing series about the way the brain works, we took a look at some practical ways to get better ideas. You can find that post here.

As promised we’re going to dive into what people are doing to boost their creativity and what they’re doing to knock down barriers in their brains. In this blog post, we’re going to take a look at substances. You’ve probably heard about micro-dosing and what it’s doing for Silicon Valley but let’s start with the medical application of psychedelic substances first before we dive into recreational or even business usage.

If we want to talk about substances, we need to start with a history lesson, back to the 1960s. The 60s are generally regarded as being on the cutting edge of neuroscience research and with it, understanding how the brain works. The problem is however that the research “got out of the lab” so to say. The usage of psychedelic drugs was an important part of the hippie culture during that time. As a response, American president Richard Nixon signed the “Controlled Substances Act”. One of the side effects of the newly introduced law was that it ground all research on psychedelic to a halt. One year later in 1971 regulations got even tighter and the war on drugs had officially started. It’s only recently that American scientist are allowed to perform tests and experiments where psychedelics are involved, and the first results seem very promising, especially when it comes to curing trauma or depression.

To give some examples, an ongoing study is investigating a cure for PTSD by treating patients with a guided counselling session whilst they’re under the influence of MDMA. Another is on the effects of synthetic psilocybin, the hallucinogen found in magic mushrooms. The tests in that study are performed on people that are terminally ill and thus struggling with anxiety and their mortality. Researchers found that even one treatment with a high dose can reduce stress/anxiety levels with effects that remain measurable even six months after the session. The process is described as a guided meditation, the test subject ingests the psilocybin and are continually guided by a professional. Very similar to how a psychiatrist would treat a patient. Patients talk about their traumatic experiences or anxiety and describe the process as an out of body experience where they saw themselves in the 3rd person. They would see their life as a wall built from bricks that represented specific experiences. They would take one of these bricks out of the wall and would reflect on it, investigate it, describe what is painful about it and would restore the wall by putting the brick of their experience back. Every time the specific brick or experience was handled it would become less and less painful. Once the effects of the psychedelics had worn down the subjects reported lasting improvements like reduced anxiety and new ways of viewing their life and mortality.

Next time we’ll dive into psychedelic usage in a business setting. As before mentioned, psychedelics are specifically popular when it comes to ideation and micro-dosing has become a well-known term linked to Silicon Valley. It seemed only appropriate however to investigate the medical usage first.

Some articles on the subject:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/03/science/magic-mushrooms-psilocybin-scheduleiv.html

https://www.vogue.com/article/magic-mushrooms-may-be-an-fda-approved-drug-for-anxiety-and-depression-in-the-near-future

https://newatlas.com/mdma-ptsd-successful-trial-results/57074/

Jurian de Cocq van Delwijnen

About

Jurian de Cocq van Delwijnen works for Sogeti Netherlands as part of the mobile team. He builds apps by craft but his passion for refining the development process has taken him far as a Scrum Master. He prides himself in being able to switch effortlessly between being a developer and taking the perspective of the business. After previously developing the Philips Hue app he works for Rabobank now, the second largest bank in the Netherlands.

More on Jurian de Cocq van Delwijnen.

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    *Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Sogeti Group