"We know that people may be genetically pre-disposed to depression and anxiety disorders. We also know that specific life events may trigger depressive episodes in those who have previously been the picture of mental health. But so far we've been unable to identify one single, definitive catalyst. However, new research suggests that, for some people, depression may be caused by something as simple as an allergic reaction – a reaction to inflammation; a product of the body, not the mind." [more inside]
How Tripping On Mushrooms Changes The Brain - "New research [pdf] suggests that psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, sprouts new links across previously disconnected brain regions, temporarily altering the brain's entire organizational framework." [more inside]
Tao Lin became very interested in Terence McKenna over the past two years, and now he's writing a weekly column about the man and his ideas for Vice. Part I: Beyond "Existentialism". Part II: Terence McKenna's Memes, featuring 30 of Lin's favorite memes propagated by the philosopher-explorer, touching upon entheogens, consciousness, evolution, belief, language, the internet, and mankind's search for meaning. If you have time on your hands, here's over ten uninterrupted hours of McKenna as referenced in the first column.
Dirty Pictures [1h30m] is a documentary (trailer [1m30s]) about Alexander Shulgin, his life, his family, the drugs he has developed, the people he has affected, the boundaries of experience he has explored, the effects he has had on society, and the understanding of the mind and the psychedelic experience which have resulted from his experiments and chemical creations.
The First Word. A new Electric Sheep comic by Patrick Farley on the psychedelic origins of language. [NSFW, Via]
On October 22, 2011 I was arrested by the DEA for cultivation and distribution of psilocybin mushrooms.
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have published a new study (behind paywall - summary) on the effects of "magic mushrooms". Volunteers were given 4 doses of psilocybin spaced one month apart. The study built on previous work and attempted to optimize the experience for long-lasting positive effects:
61% of volunteers considered the psilocybin experience during either or both the [highest dosage] sessions to have been the single most spiritually significant of their lives, with 83% rating it in their top five. Consistent with this, 94% and 89% of volunteers, respectively, indicated that the experiences on those same sessions increased their well-being or life satisfaction and positively changed their behavior at least moderately.[more inside]
One Step Beyond - The Sacred Mushroom. A 1961 episode of One Step Beyond investigates whether or not psilocybin mushrooms can give you extra-sensory perception. Part 2, Part 3. [Via Neurophilosophy]
The origins and evolution of human intelligence: parasitic insects? viruses? mushrooms? neural darwinism? foraging? machiavellian competition? emergence? or something else?
A landmark rigorous study, 36 years after Walter Pahnke's Good Friday study ocuments the ability of psilocybin - the chemical in "magic mushrooms" - to trigger mystical experiences. 16 of 24 participants, who had no history of psychedelic use, rated the drug episode (after 2 months) to be among the 5 most meaningful experiences in their lifetime. A longer 40-year follow-up by MAPS on those who took LSD under the supervision of psychiatrist Oscar Janiger in the 1950s, found qualitatively the same result.