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Psychedelic Apprenticeship: Validating Psychedelic Insights and Revelations with Chris Timmermann, PhD

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In this episode of the Plant Medicine Podcast, researcher Chris Timmermann, PhD joins to discuss his recent publication regarding psychedelic apprenticeship. Dr. Timmermann is a researcher at the Center for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London where he conducted the first neuroimaging studies of DMT in healthy volunteers to explore potential mental health impacts. He is also the president and founder of the Foundation for the Study of Human Consciousness in Chile. Dr. Timmermann’s paper “Towards psychedelic apprenticeship: Developing a gentle touch for the mediation and validation of psychedelic-induced insights and revelations” was recently published in December 2020 and it provides a framework for tackling the difficult problem of mediating knowledge gained during psychedelic experiences. In this conversation, Dr. Timmermann breaks down his article and discusses how different contexts for psychedelic use (such as therapeutic, neo-shamanic, and research) each come with their unique concerns in terms of the knowledge these experiences can induce. Highlighting the fact that it is the same mechanism causing both therapeutic benefits and potential distress following psychedelic experience, Dr. Timmerman explains that psychedelic guides and even researchers can profoundly influence the content of a psychedelic experience. His framework for apprenticeship seeks to address how guides and researchers can best wield this influence positively, and provides suggestions for how to better approach the integration of experiences which feature visions or insights that can be difficult to understand and internalize. In this episode: Dr. Timmermann’s framework for psychedelic apprenticeship Why psychedelic revelations can be a double-edged sword Psychedelic insights and vision in therapeutic, neo-shamanic, and research contexts Spiritual bypassing in the psychedelic community What gives psychedelic or mystical visions their sense of authority Quotes: “There is a strong need for an intersubjective component to validate this knowledge, these revelations, these insights.” [8:45] “The striking thing that I thought was really important was that it seems to be the same mechanism which drives the benefits but also drives the complications.” [15:58] “The broader culture is inviting some sorts of narratives and experiences and because the psychedelic state is a permeable state, the system is porous to these narratives and memes.” [33:33] “This process of apprenticeship essentially is a framework for us to understand how we can help make sense of these experiences for people, how they can approach the experience, but with a light touch.” [41:55] “What we’re doing with the science and what we’re doing with these papers and so on is providing some form of context, some form of mediation, some form of knowledge to try to contain these experiences a bit more.” [50:26] Links: Dr. Chris Timmermann on Twitter Center for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London Dr. Timmermann’s recent paper “Towards psychedelic apprenticeship: Developing a gentle touch for the mediation and validation of psychedelic-induced insights and revelations” Psychedelic Medicine Association Porangui