The Psychedelic era of the mid-60s was a time of social, musical and artistic change influenced by psychedelic drugs, but behind the cultural curtain, a world of research was beginning to open up into the therapeutic potential of these drugs - one that was unfortunately short lived. In 1970, President Richard Nixon called Timothy Leary, the Harvard psychologist famously known for advocating the exploration of the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs as a cure-all for societies woes, "the most dangerous man in America." As a backlash to their role in the cultural upheaval of the 1960s, the majority of these drugs were declared illegal, driving hallucinogenic research and culture underground. Now, these drugs are in the midst of a revival, as new research indicates treatment options for a variety of mental illnesses and disorders, too valuable not to investigate. As psychedelic drug research bubbles back up to the surface in labs across the globe - we ask whether these drugs have a role beyond disease and if their use in creative practice will ever loose the stigma.
Our first guest, Rahel Debebe, front woman of folk-prog-jazz band Hejira, talks to us about seeing colors and shapes when she hears music and how that has influenced her creativity. Vocalist and song writer, Debebe has performed to sold-out audiences in venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House. Hejira, will release their album Thread of Gold in February 2019.
Later in the episode, we are joined by Dr. Charles Grob, Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine. He talks to us about the turbulent history of psychedelic drug research. Dr. Grob has conducted the first government approved psychobiological research study of MDMA, and was the principal investigator of an international research project in the Brazilian Amazon studying the visionary plant brew, Ayahuasca. He has also published the first approved research investigation in decades on the safety and efficacy of psilocybin in the treatment of anxiety in patients with advanced-stage cancer.
About Dr. Yewande Pearse: Born and bred in North London, Dr. Yewande Pearse completed her PhD in Neuroscience at King's College London, in 2016. She is now based in Los Angeles, where she works as a Research Fellow, developing a stem cell therapy treatment for a rare childhood brain disease. Outside of the lab, Yewande is a collaborator of Science Gallery Detroit, sits on the Programming Committee Spring/Summer 2019 at Navel Los Angeles, and was a TEDMED Research Scholar for the 2018 Stage Program. Yewande also writes for Massive, an online science media platform.
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