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Psychedelic Medicine

Association

Addressing Military Sexual Trauma through Ayahuasca with Wyly Gray and Andrea Lucie, PhD

Summary

In this episode of the Psychedelic Medicine Podcast, Wyly Gray and Dr. Andrea Lucie join to discuss the issue of healing military sexual trauma (MST) through ayahuasca. Wyly Gray is a former Marine and founding executive director of Veterans of War, a nonprofit which connects teams of veterans to psychedelic-assisted guided group therapy designed to heal the scars of war in community. Dr. Andrea Lucie is a native of Chile and a third generation healer who has been traditionally and non-traditionally trained in ancient healing practices in the United States and Mexico. She also holds a PhD in mind-body medicine.

This conversation begins by discussing the tragic phenomenon of military sexual trauma and the current treatment modalities available for veteran survivors. Wyly explains that the current treatments, which primarily take a talk therapy approach, often fall short of what survivors need as they focus on treating the symptoms as they arise rather than being able to address these conditions at their root causes. Dr. Lucie explains the science behind ayahuasca as a treatment for trauma, highlighting the profound neurological and psychological impacts of this psychedelic medicine.

Seeing the particular need for better treatment options among the veteran population, and the potential for ayahuasca to have such a profound positive impact, Wyly founded Veterans of War with the hope of better addressing this need. He shares the details of the six-month fellowship program, which involves a small cohort of veterans who do significant preparatory work together prior to a communal ayahuasca ceremony, followed by many integration sessions after the ceremony. Dr. Lucie explains different forms of mind-body work that may be effective supports before and after ceremony, citing things such as Tai Chi, meditation, and even close relationships with animals.

Towards the end of this conversation, Wyly shares some profound stories of transformation he has witnessed first-hand through his work with Veterans of War. He has seen veterans who’ve struggled profoundly with panic attacks become incredibly joyful people, and others who were on the brink of suicide begin to heal and form deep and meaningful relationships. In closing, Wyly discusses plans to establish a healing center in Oregon for Veterans of War to further increase access to these opportunities without the need for international travel.

In This Episode

• The problems of the civilian service-member divide, and how ayahuasca can help break down these barriers
• The importance of supportive community in the context of ayahuasca therapy for veterans with MST
• Mind-body practices that can support veterans working through MST before and after an ayahuasca ceremony
• How trauma changes the brain and the neurological effects of psychedelics that can help reverse these changes
• Why tackling issues of sexual assault within the military can be so difficult

Quotes

“I think that Ayahuasca is unparalleled in its ability to create a safe and effective path towards recovery, but I deeply believe it also needs bookends on either side, or a structure to get the most out of it.” [8:19]

“Sometimes we just don’t want to talk. We just want to feel and when we feel and we identify where in the body the trauma is stuck—because the trauma gets stuck in the body—then we know how to release it with movement.” [27:16]

“Our response to trauma has seemed to be very one-dimensional. This is an effort to shift that, to start looking at people as whole units and at the same time, start speaking to the needs of that whole unit. If you are able to heal the trigger point of that trauma, you don’t have to heal its expression.” [31:18]

Links

* The Psychedelic Medicine Podcast has allowed the Psychedelic Medicine Association to post episodes as an educational resource, and in return the PMA is hosting the podcast show notes.