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Dr. Roland Griffiths

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LSD’s Quiet Guru Keeps Adding Proof

The Atlantic calls it “the psychedelic revival.” Amateurs are embracing psychedelics again. But it’s what’s happening among the pros that is most interesting.

The Atlantic calls it “the psychedelic revival.” Amateurs are embracing psychedelics again. But it’s what’s happening among the pros that is most interesting.

Stanford University has been quietly working for decades, trying to keep a low profile. So has Johns Hopkins University.

 “Griffiths and his team proved this benefit of psychedelic usage, scientifically”

At Hopkins, Dr. Roland Griffiths has been an active researcher since 1999. In 2006 his team published a paper in the respected journal Psychopharmacology that put academia on notice that the work was worthy. Psychedelics had mental health and spiritual benefits.

 “Griffiths and his team proved this benefit of psychedelic usage, scientifically: with double-blinding protocols, peer reviews, exhaustive observations, and the like. Psychedelics were emerging as a respectable treatment for various cognitive and physical disorders,” The Atlantic noted.

The research found that those participants who received psilocybin underwent a noteworthy change. Even months after they received the drug they still felt strongly that something important had happened. Something big. Two-thirds of them said what they felt was as personal and as significant to them as other peak life experiences they’d know, such as getting married or having a child. 

Griffiths is finding benefits in LSD, psilocybin and other hallucinogens, but he’s no Timothy-Leary-type guru. Far from it. Griffiths told The Atlantic that he originally began his work as a skeptic. Before psychedelics, he had spent many years researching the effects of caffeine. As we know now, caffeine is a one of the most effective nootropic, or brain enhancing, substances available without a prescription.  Griffiths had heard people rave about psychedelics, but he doubted the claims.

He also needed to proceed carefully to keep his professional standing and credibility intact. He considered this work a kind of “third-rail” issue that had a high chance of damaging his reputation. But it was an idea he could not resist investigating. At the same time, Griffiths had begun meditating, too. He was deeply interested in how that affected consciousness. He wondered if psychedelics might have a similar effect. 

Then, in 2006, he published the paper that proved it. Psychedelics could open the mind and heal the spirit, according to those who used them in a carefully designed and observed study. It wasn’t just street wisdom.

Griffiths says, “These kinds of experiences are hugely consequential with respect to pro-social behavior and basic ethical and moral principles. And frankly I can’t think of anything more interesting, and more important, than to understand the bases of that experience, and how to cultivate that experience, for the survival of our species. We’re talking about survival. Whether that occurs with psychedelics is unimportant to me.” 

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