Reflections on the Stichting Open psychedelics conference 2012
Over the 6 – 7 of October, 2012, the Stichting Open Foundation held its Interdisciplinary Conference on Psychedelic Research in Amsterdam. The Conference was held in Mozeshuis Waterloplein and where else better to hold such an event than Mozeshuis, an old church. A church in which we could ask, seek and pray for guidance and enlightenment to provide alternative interventions for ailments that modern medicine has proven incapable of dealing with.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Stichting Open Foundation, it is a non-profit and interdisciplinary organisation that promotes and supports scientific research into psychedelics; its primary purpose being the dissemination of concise knowledge regarding the discipline of psychedelics in the role of therapy. With psychedelic research still being largely a subject of taboo and bias in the minds of many scientists, meetings like this are very important.
Early psychedelic researchers presented very promising results in the application of psychedelics to treat numerous disorders. However, this research came to a halt in the late 1960s and early 1970s as many psychedelics were banned, largely in response to wide-spread negative media coverage of substances such as LSD and Psilocybin. Not too long after, the compound 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA) was also criminalised and classed as a dangerous substance, placing it alongside the likes of heroin and cocaine. Thankfully, these early researchers did not give up and, after years of persistence and bureaucratic battles, psychedelic research is now experiencing a promising revival, with strong preliminary results and encouraging outcomes.
Psychedelics have been a part of the human cultures of the world since the dawning of mankind. Evidence of the use of psilocybin can be found in cave drawings and sculptures all round the world, including the walls of various Egyptian Pyramids. Even now, to this day, many Amazonian tribes still use the psychedelic brew known as Ayahuasca almost daily in order to treat physical as well as spiritual afflictions, and in countless isolated villages around the globe the residents still employ cannabis as a natural analgesic.
The main purpose of this conference however was not to provide a background into psychedelic research but rather to give the medical community exactly what it is so hung up about. Modern medicine loves statistics; it adores graphs and it takes notice of people whose title includes the word ‘Doctor’ and ‘Professor’. If we were to introduce the possibility of the medical use of psychedelics to treat mental disorders and addictions, and to be taken seriously, then we had to build an army of exactly these kinds of experts, and that’s what we did.
With guns blazing we gave the world what it wants. We gave them professionalism and information. We gave them documented proof and verified facts. We gave them indisputable outcomes and astounding visionaries from around the globe. We made it impossible for the scientific community of the world to ignore us, and little by little we are changing the face of contemporary medicine.
Representatives from the Johns Hopkins University in the USA, as well as those from the Imperial College in London, all provided us with various scans of the brain, maps as to how substances such as psilocybin work and their incredible implications in the use for therapy in addictions and conditions like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Other Organisations, such as ICEERS, spoke about the positive results that addiction centres from around the world have reported, and studies from the University of Kent gave us an insight into the potential that psychedelics can have in order to enrich our lives emotionally as well as spiritually. The list goes on, I am proud to say, and is proof that we mean business, proof that we will not go away, proof that we are not just ‘fluffy, trippy hippies’, but that we are claiming and defending our right to be taken seriously.
As the Interdisciplinary Conference on Psychedelic Research came to an end one thing was certain: Psychedelic Research has now become a very real science and has at last resumed its rightful place as a legitimate study in the field of Medicine. With this dawns the beginning of a new era in medical science, one that will hopefully see a more promising and humane approach to the way we deal with afflictions of both the body and mind, and one whose shores we are just returning to and whose vast potential we have only just begun again to explore.