The Psychedelic Science conference started this Wednesday with a big ovation for Rick Doblin, founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), considered one of the heroes of the psychedelic renaissance. A psychologist, he had his first encounters with MDMA-assisted therapies in the 1970s before the substance was banned in the mid-1980s due to its popularity on the streets as ecstasy. Over the past 20 years, he has become a leader in the psychedelic renaissance in medicine through his work with MAPS, which has been promoting the necessary clinical trials to approve MDMA for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.
It was thrilling to see the huge main auditorium of the Colorado Convention Center packed, a space for 5,000 people, many of whom were standing or sitting on the floor and stairs. They almost climbed the walls to see Doblin, who was cheered by the audience like a rock star. He began his lecture by welcoming everyone, saying, “Welcome to the future.” Then he continued, “A conference with 12,000 registered attendees, with two governors at the opening ceremony. Am I dreaming? I don’t think so. It’s the world that is changing,” he said, much to the delight of the audience.
Doblin spoke about his inspirations to persist for decades in a fight that many might consider utopian. He recalled the quote from Herman Hesse, “It was my destiny to joy in a great experience”, with which he identified and from which he drew inspiration to found MAPS. He caused a stir when he mentioned the importance of Stanislav Grof in his journey – the creator of the holotropic breathwork method and a pioneer in the study of the therapeutic use of psychedelics was in the audience and received a standing ovation from those present.
Doblin also mentioned recent regulatory advancements in the United States, such as the approval of funding for a phase 2 research study investigating the use of ibogaine in the treatment of addiction in the state of Kentucky. He also noted the radical shift brought about by research and cultural products, such as Michael Pollan’s book and series “How to Change Your Mind.” In his usual irreverent manner, he used a graph depicting the evolution of research in the field to illustrate the change in public perception of psychedelics, jokingly referencing a photo of the character Ted Lasso reading Pollan’s book. He also presented MAPS’ plan to create a calculation of the global trauma GDP, with the noble idea of zeroing out the global balance of trauma in humanity.
In the end, as expected, he thanked the billionaires who have invested in MAPS research in recent years and made an appeal for donations from the attendees. All the research on MDMA for post-traumatic stress disorder was conducted without a penny of public money. All the resources came from donations that Doblin obtained from some billionaires and many small donations, as well as sales of t-shirts, keychains, pins, and all kinds of souvenirs.
The event’s proposition, expressed in its slogan, is “be part of the revolution.” The general atmosphere among the participants was indeed one of celebrating the great moment of productivity and recognition that psychedelic science is experiencing.
Image: Tarso Araújo/ Beneva