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Monday, October 31, 2011

Gail Bradney Reviews Nonfiction Book on Spirtuality

Title: The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys
Author: James Fadiman PhD
Genre: Spirituality/Psychology
ISBN: 978-1-59477-402-7

Name of reviewer: Gail Bradney
Review first published at blogcritics.

It's long been known that psychedelic substances expand normal functions and perceptions of the brain. Psychedelic use isn't a recent phenomenon. In fact, virtually every culture on every continent over eons has ingested consciousness-altering plants and used them medicinally and in rituals.

But many readers would be surprised to learn that Nobel Laureate Francis Crick received a vision of the double helix DNA when he was under the influence of LSD, or that late Apple founder Steve Jobs counts his psychedelic voyages among the "two or three most important things" he's done in his life.

Despite the fact that the federal government shut down psychedelic research some 45 years ago and made its use illegal, 23 million Americans have taken a psychedelic since then, and it's estimated that more than 600 thousand Americans will try psychedelics this year.

Today, there's a recent resurgence of scientific and medical research on the healing potential of psychedelics. Important clinical research on psychedelics is being conducted at Johns Hopkins, Harvard, and elsewhere that may offer new hope and help for cancer patients, cluster headache sufferers, heroin addicts, US veterans with PTSD, autistic children, and patients with many other medical conditions. There's also renewed interest in psychedelic use as a vehicle for personal growth and exploration, for problem solving, and as a way to trigger artistic and creative breakthroughs.

Enter Dr. James Fadiman, psychologist, professor, and America's most respected authority on psychedelics. Dr. Fadiman was one of the people involved with totally legal psychedelic research during the 1960s with the Harvard Group, the West Coast Research Group in Menlo Park, and Ken Kesey. Now he's written a fascinating new book, The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys (Park Street Press, 2011), in which he clears up current myths and misperceptions about psychedelics, and presents findings from both long-neglected and recent clinical studies, research experiments, and surveys showing a surprising range of benefits from safe, supervised psychedelic use.

This comprehensive resource offers a wealth of practical information for therapists and health-care professionals, researchers and scientists, psychedelic voyagers and their guides, and even policy makers. Dr. Fadiman has not written the book for those who want to use these drugs recreationally, nor does he delve deeply into shamanistic practices.

In The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide, readers learn how to prepare for a guided psychedelic experience—and six factors that can help the voyager get the most from it. We discover how higher doses, with the assistance of guides, can often lead to profound spiritual, transformative experiences, and how moderate dosages are being used for emotional healing and single-session psychotherapy. Dr. Fadiman presents interesting findings from studies demonstrating that low-dose guided sessions can lead to scientific and innovation breakthroughs, and extremely low-dose use of psychedelics may enhance cognitive functioning and emotional balance, and even boost problem solving.

Dr. Fadiman has managed to compile an enormous body of psychedelic research and useful findings from fields as diverse as psychology, business, medicine, neuroscience, and spirituality into a page-turner that's intriguing, fresh, and endlessly surprising.

This is the first time much of the important past and current scientific research, case studies, and first-person essays from the most renowned psychedelic pioneers—including LSD discoverer Albert Hoffman, Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, and Ram Dass, among many others—have been brought together in one source. A checklist for voyagers and their guides as well as an extensive resource section make this a truly invaluable and definitive guide for everyone interested in psychedelics and their potential to make us wiser, smarter, healthier, more connected to the natural world, and more compassionate.

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