Psychedelics and Death: A Brief Introduction
An Illustrated Lecture with Psychotherapist Dr. Neal Goldsmith
Date: Friday, July 10th
The concept--and at times the actuality--of death always attends the psychedelic experience. This lecture will provide a brief overview of the many ways in which death influences the psychedelic experience. It will also offer a recontextualization of that relationship, providing a broader conceptual umbrella for the various ways in which death infuses and informs the psychedelic mindset, in ways which better resonate with the modern worldview.
Over the course of the talk, Goldsmith will touch on tribal perspectives on death attained through the ingestion of visionary plants and admixtures, including Ayahuasca aka the "vine of death," as well as zombieism, and the extraordinary knowledgebase of hard-won tribal wisdom transmitted through ritual. He will also discuss the Western perspective on death as seen through the lens of the psychedelic experience, outlining Rank's concept of birth trauma, near-death experiences, and the death-and-rebirth experience as explored by Grof. The talk will also cover psychedelics research demonstrating the relative safety of psychedelics (no documented deaths from LSD), the central importance of the ego-death experience, and the renaissance in psychedelic research currently underway, including the extraordinary findings of Rick Strassman administering DMT (the active ingredient in Ayahuasca) to research subjects, and the "Psilocybin End-of-Life Anxiety" research project underway at Johns Hopkins, NYU, and UCLA medical schools.
The talk will draw implications for a new perspective on death, shedding new light on our fear of annihilation, resistance to our inner truest selves, and difficult (not "bad") trips, along with our desire for illumination, clarity, and developmental transformation found through ego death. It is this deeper, larger perspective on death and life - that is provided by psychedelics and its great benefit to society.
Neal M. Goldsmith, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and author specializing in psychospiritual development. He is author of dozens of popular and scholarly articles, curates and hosts innovative workshops, salons, and conferences, and a frequent speaker on psychotherapy and change, adult developmental psychology, psychedelics research and policy, and the integral future of society.
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