Lately there has been an explosion of interest in psychedelics by the mainstream media. Anca Ulea of Psychology Today has run a story on the controversial figurehead of 60’s counter-culture, Timothy Leary, and the impact of his legacy on new psychedelic research:
The next successful study of psychedelics arrived 20 years later, in 1990. Rick Strassman, a medical researcher at University of New Mexico, said that before he began his research on the psychedelic compound DMT, he studied Leary’s biography Flashbacks to avoid repeating Leary’s mistakes in his own research.
“I hid from the press, kept religion and spirituality out of my writings while I was doing research, avoided studying undergraduates, studied no more than one student per department if I did use students as volunteers… and made certain my data were more important than anything else,” Strassman wrote in an email.
It took him two years to collect all the necessary permits from local, state, and federal agencies, even though he already had funding to conduct the research from the Scottish Rite Foundation for Schizophrenia Research and the National Institute for Drug Abuse. Strassman refers to his first DMT paper as his “What if I’m hit by a bus?” paper, because it outlined the approval process so others could follow.
“If I never published any data, I at least wanted to let people know how to get through the maze of a Schedule I drug research project,” he wrote.
The current wave of research picks up where the old wave left off, Strassman says, but with contemporary methodologies and a more understated approach. This low-key nature is due in part to the negative publicity Leary drew to the field decades earlier, he says.