Conversations on the Edge: The Renaissance of Psychedelics: Mental Health and Self-Exploration

October 28, 2021

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Online via Zoom
Cambridge MA 02138

October 28, 2021
6:30pm – 7:45pm

The Renaissance of Psychedelics: Mental Health and Self-Exploration

“After decades of demonization and criminalization, psychedelic drugs are on the cusp of entering mainstream psychiatry, with profound implications for a field that in recent decades has seen few pharmacological advancements for the treatment of mental disorders and addiction.” - The New York Times, May 9, 2021

It is a bright new world for psychedelics, once revered as the key to consciousness for the flower children of the Cultural Revolution, then outlawed as big pharma swooped in to corner and market opioid, antidepressant, mood-stabilizing, and antipsychotic drugs —to great effect and with massive profits. But now, convincing recent studies demonstrate that certain psychedelic substances can help relieve anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction, and fear of death for the terminally ill. They can also be used in controlled environments to help individuals expand their very sense of being. State and city governments across the country are beginning to loosen restrictions on certain psychedelic drugs, the first step in what some hope will lead to the federal decriminalization of psychedelics for therapeutic and even recreational use. Our panel of distinguished guests will talk about their mission to make sure that these drugs are available to not only those suffering from mental illness, but for those who want to channel their use for personal growth. The panel will be led by our CCAE friend Anne St. Goar, who has witnessed the value of psychedelics in her treatment of PTSD patients.

Moderator:

Anne St. Goar, M.D. | Board Member of Boston Psychedelic Research Group

Panelists:

Mary Cosimano, LMSW | Director of Guide/Facilitator Services, Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research

Rick Doblin, Ph.D. | Founder and Executive Director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

Rachael Petersen | Psychedelics and Religion Program Director, The Riverstyx Foundation

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Speaker Bios

Moderator:

Anne St. Goar, M.D.

After training at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital in Internal Medicine, Anne was a primary care physician in the Boston area at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates for more than 30 years. During her last 10 years of practice, she realized how much PTSD affected so many people, both physically and emotionally. In exploring treatments for PTSD, she discovered the work the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is doing with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and decided to get involved. In 2016, Anne became a certified Psychedelic Therapist and Researcher through the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). Anne is currently a Phase 3 therapist for the MAPS study in Boston. She lives in Cambridge with her husband, with whom she has three grown children, three children-in-law, and three grandchildren.

Panelists:

Mary Cosimano, LMSW, is currently with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is the Director of Guide Services for the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research and has served as study guide and research coordinator for the psilocybin studies for over 20 years. During that time, Mary has been a session guide, involved with the psilocybin and club drug studies and has conducted over 475 study sessions. She has trained postdoctoral fellows, research assistants and faculty as guides and taught individual and group meditation to breast cancer patients in a Johns Hopkins research study. She teaches at California Institute to Integral Studies for their Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research program and conducts trainings for therapists in psychedelic psychotherapy. She also has 15 years of experience with direct patient care as a hospice volunteer.

Rick Doblin, Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He received his doctorate in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where he wrote his dissertation on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics and marijuana and his Master's thesis on a survey of oncologists about smoked marijuana vs. the oral THC pill in nausea control for cancer patients. Rick studied with Dr. Stanislav Grof and was among the first to be certified as a Holotropic Breathwork practitioner. His professional goal is to help develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana, primarily as prescription medicines but also for personal growth for otherwise healthy people, and eventually to become a legally licensed psychedelic therapist. He founded MAPS in 1986, and currently resides in Boston with his wife, dog, and empty rooms from three grown children.

Rachael Petersen is grateful to serve as the Psychedelics and Religion Program Director at Riverstyx, where she builds programming to support clergy interested in psychedelic exploration and conducts qualitative research for the NYU/Johns Hopkins Religious Professionals Psilocybin Study. Rachael came to psychedelics after participating in a clinical trial for depression, prompted by her career fighting climate change and environmental destruction. Her psychedelic experiences have reignited Rachael’s interest in transcendence and transformation, and inspired her to seek to build bridges between the religious and psychedelic communities. She is the founder of Earthrise, a consultancy serving nonprofits, think tanks, and philanthropists working to transform our world. She has held senior positions at World Resources Institute, National Geographic Society, and advised multi-billion-dollar foundations on climate change. She is a visiting fellow at Harvard Divinity School’s Center for the Study of World Religions. A published poetry and nonfiction writer, her work explores themes of despair, personal and planetary crises, and conversion. She has a degree in anthropology and environmental policy at Rice University.