Exploring Psychedelic History with Don Lattin

Exploring Psychedelic History with Don Lattin

Don Lattin and publisher, Deborah Parrish Snyder

Changing Our Minds is one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date books on psychoactive substances, their socio-cultural trajectories of use over time and their place in contemporary society. Lucid, well researched and written, Don covers the global movement of scientifically-grounded exploration of how psychedelic drugs – such as LSD, MDA, MDMA, psilocybin, ayahuasca, ketamine and many others – have been utilized to treat conditions like PTSD, depression, addiction, and end-of- life anxiety.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of research into the therapeutic potentials of these substances. Lattin details the body of these studies, but also works to move beyond the technical details of the science and research, making efforts to acquaint the reader with the plethora of compelling characters who have made it their life’s task to help make others aware that these mind-altering, psychoactive substances can have positively meaningful, life-changing effects when used in an intentional, controlled manner.

Psychedelics Today recently interviewed Don on the subject: 

In this episode of Psychedelics Today, Don explores psychedelic history, covering his personal experiences as well as the behind the scenes details that led to him writing his new book Changing Our Minds. 

Listen to the Podcast Here

Lattin is able to weave a multi-layered narrative, skillfully incorporating the numerous perspectives involved in today’s dialogue on psychedelics, encapsulating insights from neuroscientists, psychologists, psychotherapists, spiritual practitioners and many more. He spans the landscape, covering territory from neuroscientists using LSD as a research tool to investigate the neural mechanisms behind consciousness; psychologists facilitating MDMA-assisted psychotherapy sessions; tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley micro-dosing LSD for cognitive and creative enhancement to consciousness explorers and spiritual practitioners using ayahuasca for their individual betterment.

Times are changing, and we have moved beyond the infamous ‘War on Drugs’ backlash response to the 1960s counter-culture. Many psychoactive substances are slowly on their way to being decriminalized, with the mental stigma and cultural baggage associated with psychedelics dissolving as they are becoming increasingly more accepted as tools for psychological, medical and spiritual growth.

Upcoming Author Event in California April:

SATURDAY, APRIL 28th 6:00-10:00pm – Join Don Lattin and other notable Bay Area authors at a Mad Hatters themed benefit cocktail party in order to raise money for the Walnut Creek Library. For more information and tickets, go to Walnut Creek Library Gala.

Praise for Changing Our Minds

Don Lattin’s Changing Our Minds is far and away the best book on psychedelic use and research available today… Lattin not only fully describes the important trends in research, but includes valuable back stories of the major researchers, and why they have given so much of their professional lives to such risky endeavors. Now, when people ask me, is there one book I can read about the multiple dimensions of current psychedelic research, I can say, Changing Our Minds will give you everything you need. — James Fadiman, PhD, author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic and Sacred Journeys

Changing Our Minds expertly explores the healing and spiritual journey catalyzed by psychedelic psychotherapy through the courageous voices of those who are pioneering the study of these treatments. An essential read for those interested in the expanding field of psychedelic research for therapeutic and spiritual uses, this volume lands at a crucial time during the re-emergence of psychedelic research as we approach the mainstream, scientific acceptance of psychedelic psychotherapy and the reintegration of the legal use of psychedelics into Western culture. — Rick Doblin, PhD., Founder & Executive Director of MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

About the Author:

Don Lattin is an award-winning author and journalist. His five previously published books include The Harvard Psychedelic Club, a national bestseller that was awarded the California Book Award, Silver Medal, for nonfiction. His feature articles have been published in dozens of leading magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle, where Lattin worked as a staff writer for twenty years.

John Perry Barlow R.I.P. (1947-2018)

John Perry Barlow R.I.P. (1947-2018)

City Lights book launch of Birth of a Psychedelic Culture: Conversations About Leary, the Harvard Experiments, Millbrook and the Sixties,  in 2009.  John Perry Barlow (seated left), Ralph Metzner, Peggy Hitchcock and Gary Bravo. Click on the photos below for some memories from that rare gathering in San Francisco’s iconic bookstore. Photo of JPBarlow at top by Joi Ito.

John Perry Barlow, Wyoming rancher, poet, philosopher and pioneer for Freedom of the Internet, passed away this month. His wit, wisdom and vision for a beautiful and just world for all people remains with us in his extensive archives of writings and speeches hosted at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization he co-founded and served on the Board until his death.

I had the distinct pleasure to know John Perry and experience his amazing energy and love of life. He had a way of telling a story like few people, with piercing perception and poetry. When last I saw him, we talked about how good it is to be sitting on the porch telling stories with family and friends, the best kind of communication there is.

He shares some tales from his adventures in the sixties in his introduction to Ram Dass and Ralph Metzner’s book, Birth of a Psychedelic Culture:

I sped around with a longing for the Spirit that seemed inaccessible until sometime in 1964 when I read about the “Good Friday experiment” in which, on Good Friday of 1962, Walter Pahnke, Tim Leary and the two battle-scarred saints of the Unnamable whose reminiscences you’re about to read, had given psilocybin to some divinity students in Boston University’s Marsh chapel and – mirabile dictu! – they fucking saw God or something like It. And all because somebody gave them a pill.

Like most people raised by hick kids in the mountains, I was a mystic without ever having heard the word. If I could have a direct experience of The Thing Itself, without all that regulatory obligation wrapped around it, I would become whole again. After that, I read everything I could find about mystico-mimetic chemicals: Gordon Wasson’s 1957 article for Life magazine about magic mushrooms, Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception, Bill Burroughs’s Yage Letters, etc. I wanted a piece of that communion wafer and so did a lot of other kids raised around the dreary wasteland of American piety.         (Click Here to Read John Perry’s Full Introduction)

John was a master communicator and we all benefit from the clarity of vision and direct action he and his colleagues at EFF have taken since the early 90s to insure basic freedoms for information and the internet remain. Thank you, EFF!  Here is a link to John Perry Barlow’s Archive and more information on EFF.

You were truly a natural born mystic, John.

R.I.P. John Perry Barlow (1947-2018)

Deborah Parrish Snyder, Publisher, Synergetic Press

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