PT358 – Dr. Rick Barnett, Psy.D – Contexts of Use: Exploring the Various Paradigms of Psychedelics

In this episode, Kyle interviews Clinical Psychologist, past guest, and Founder of the Psychedelic Society of Vermont, Dr. Rick Barnett, Psy.D.

This episode was recorded live in front of a small audience at the Railyard Apothecary in Burlington, VT, shortly after the Psychedelic Science & Spirituality Summit, which Joe and Kyle attended (hosted by Barnett’s Psychedelic Society of Vermont). They reflect a bit on the conference (perhaps the best one Kyle has attended) and Kyle’s history in Vermont, but most of their conversation revolves around exploring  the various contexts of use around psychedelics – how our current paradigm of a heavy focus on medicalization and treatment of disorders misses a huge portion of real-world use: self-improvement, ceremonial, celebratory/recreational, and to even help with addictions. 

They discuss MAPS and MDMA use for PTSD; psilocybin for end-of-life depression and alcohol use disorder; ibogaine for getting off opiates; Chris Bache, high dose LSD sessions, and preparing for death; how dietas are better preparation for an experience than what most studies call for; Jon Dennis’ fight for religious use of psychedelics; decriminalization vs. legalization; how psychedelics helped Barnett connect with the spiritual and communal aspect of 12-step programs; the beauty and pitfalls of celebratory/recreational use; and how there’s really no wrong door when it comes to how one uses psychedelics (as long as it’s safe and respectful).

For regular listeners, this episode may be a bit introductory, but it may also be a great episode to share with your friends who are starting to become interested in this exciting new world. Do you want to attend a live recording and ask the guest questions? Keep an eye on our events page for the next one!

Notable Quotes

“How do we integrate the science that’s happening (the research) with what’s already happening out there in communities? There are people using psychedelics in ceremonial use, [for] celebration, [and] for recreation, and I want to integrate it all, because there’s no wrong door here, I think.”

“That’s a highlight for me: how psychedelics can change our minds; not so much in terms of treating depression or PTSD or addiction, but really challenging us to see ourselves and the world differently, whether we have a psychiatric condition or not.”

“I think we need to embrace all paths, and that’s why I also think decriminalization may not go far enough for some people. That’s an argument out there. I believe in decriminalization, I believe in legalization. Again, there’s no wrong door here. We can medicalize, we can decriminalize, we can legalize, ‘recreationalize,’ buy LSD in Walmart, whatever. I think that having the broadest mind possible and recognizing that there are potential benefits and keeping safety top of mind [is key].”

“I was lucky enough to get really sick from alcohol and wind up in the hospital and eventually wind up in rehab. And I’ve said this publicly before: I don’t think I would have been receptive to the message of recovery in a 12-step based program, which has a lot of spiritually associated with it and there’s a tremendous amount of fellowship and community that comes with 12-step programs. And I had a sense of that because of my LSD use before I got sober. So coming into recovery knowing what I knew, having experienced what I experienced; it was a little bit easier for me to be receptive to that community, that fellowship, that message of spirituality, of surrender, of honesty and openness, willingness – all the principles in a 12-step program.”

Links Psychedelics Tonight

Psychedelics Today: PT326– Dr. Rick Barnett, Psy.D – Addiction, Recovery, and Competency in Psychedelic Therapy

Psychedelics Today: Kyle and Joe – Contexts of Psychedelic Use

The Psychedelic Renaissance: Reassessing the Role of Psychedelic Drugs in 21st Century Psychiatry and Society, by Dr. Ben Sessa

Psychedelics Today: PT229 – Dr. Matthew Johnson – What is Consciousness? MDMA-Assisted Therapy for PTSD

Pubmed: Why MDMA therapy for alcohol use disorder? And why now? Ibogaine

Psychedelics Today: PT294 – Andrew Tatarsky, Ph.D. & Juliana Mulligan – Vital Psychedelic Conversations (good episode about ibogaine) Hallucinogenic Drug Psilocybin Eases Existential Anxiety in People With Life-Threatening Cancer Magic mushroom compound performs as well as antidepressant in small study Comorbid Patterns with Alcohol Use Disorders research After Six-Decade Hiatus, Experimental Psychedelic Therapy Returns to the V.A. Psychedelics and Eating Disorders A New Way To Quit? Psychedelic Therapy Offers Promise For Smoking Cessation Johns Hopkins Receives Grant for Psilocybin Research in Smoking Cessation

Psychedelics Today: Chris Bache – LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven

LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven, by Christopher M. Bache

Psychedelics Today: PT293 – Stanislav & Brigitte Grof – The Evolution of Breathwork and The Psychology of the Future

LSD: Doorway to the Numinous: The Groundbreaking Psychedelic Research Into Realms of the Human Unconscious, by Stanislav Grof Vermont Governor Vetoes Bill On Safe Drug Consumption Sites And Harm Reduction

Psychedelics Today: Oregon, Measure 109, and Community Access: The Final Vote H.R.1308 – Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993

The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries, by R. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hofmann, and Carl A. P. Ruck Mescaline

Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic, by Mike Jay Bill Wilson, LSD and the Secret Psychedelic History of Alcoholics Anonymous

About Dr. Rick Barnett, Psy.D

Dr. Rick Barnett, Psy.D., LADC, is a clinical psychologist and addiction specialist. Dr. Barnett holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, a Doctorate and Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Yeshiva University, and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychopharmacology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He has been a licensed alcohol and drug counselor since 1999 and has specialized training in problematic sexual behavior (PSB-S) and gambling disorder. In 2021, Dr. Barnett completed a year-long Certificate Program for Psychedelic Therapy and Research through the California Institute for Integral Studies, as well as Ketamine trainings through Polaris Insight Center and PRATI. In June, 2021, he founded the Psychedelic Society of Vermont which now has over 70 health professionals with a shared interest in psychedelic research and treatments. 

Dr. Barnett founded the non-profit organization CARTER, Inc. in 2015 to expand  addiction-related resources in Vermont. He is Legislative Chair, Federal Advocacy Coordinator, and Past-President of the Vermont Psychological Association. In 2020, he served as President of the Society for Prescribing Psychologists (Division 55) of the American Psychological Association. He served on the Board of Directors of the North Central Vermont Recovery Center in 2018-2019 and has served on numerous regulatory boards in the State of Vermont related to health, mental health and addiction recovery. 

Rick maintains a private practice in Stowe, VT and provides supervision to new therapists. In 2021, he began working within a Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) model for select patients. He is an active advocate for mental health and addiction prevention, treatment and recovery. Rick is also in long term recovery from addiction and maintains a regular practice of recovery through meditation, time in nature, helping others, attendance at mutual aid support groups, reading and writing. He is also active on social media for fun and for professional purposes.

Socials: Twitter / Linkedin 

A picture of Kyle and Dr. Barnett from the live event

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PT357 – Dr. Hans Eriksson – Precision Psychiatry, Ketabon, and The Stress Response System

In this episode, David interviews drug developer, clinical psychiatrist, and Chief Medical Officer at HMNC Brain Health; Dr. Hans Eriksson. 

Eriksson discusses the complexity of the human brain and his fascination with the ability for simple biological interventions to affect really profound disorders – that while psychotherapy and community can have a major effect, sometimes a simple chemical can fix everything. HMNC Brain Health is currently in Phase 2 trials for Ketabon, a ketamine-esque prolonged-release oral capsule which early studies show does not include any dissociation – something a lot of people do not want. And, as a lot of current medicine is guess work, they have also created a blood test (and are working on other predictive diagnostic tests) to identify specific common markers to show who will most likely respond to specific interventions. This work is firmly rooted in the idea of precision psychiatry, with the theory that there will be far fewer patients with treatment-resistant depression if their physicians are able to see which treatments will actually work for them ahead of time. 

He fully explains the stress response system and Vasopressin system, discussing the likely links between stress response dysfunction and depression; and goes into much more: his thoughts on Compass Pathways’ phase 2 data; the famous Escitalopram vs. psilocybin study; how much of progress can be attributed to psychotherapy vs. the compound itself; why it makes sense to study a new compound on top of SSRIs rather than on its own; AI and machine learning; and how science is truly beginning to come to terms with the fact that all systems in the body are connected.

Notable Quotes

“I was really fascinated by the understanding that on one level, this extremely complex system of the human brain (probably the most complex system in the known universe) can find some of the explanations regarding its functioning in chemicals [and] in compounds of different sorts interacting with targets, receptors, transporters, etc.; and that this can have a profound effect on how we feel and think. And this link between, on one hand, basic biology, and on the other hand, this complex emotional world that is being a human, is so fascinating.”

“If someone comes into the hospital after a car accident and needs a blood transfusion, no one would ever think the thought that: ‘We take any blood we have in storage.’ They would check what blood [type] you have. …But still, in psychiatry, when someone comes in with a severe depression, we hand out an SSRI typically as the first-line treatment. But think: if you could have a tool that could say, ‘Okay, but you belong to the 30% that has a very good likelihood of responding very well to a medicine that corrects your stress response system,’ that could lead to [a] much shorter path from the interaction with the healthcare [provider] to actually overcoming the depression.”

“One area that I expect to be developing quite a lot in [the] coming years is to understand how the brain is affected by things that are ongoing in other parts of our bodies; for instance, things such as peripheral inflammation: Does that affect the brain? The composition of the gut microbiome in our guts: What effect does that have on the brain? I think we are probably moving into an era where we see the brain not only as an isolated world swimming around in the cerebrospinal fluid protected by the blood-brain barrier, but actually as more of a dynamic part in our bodies.”

Links COMPASS Pathways announces further positive results from groundbreaking phase IIb trial of investigational COMP360 psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression Trial of Psilocybin versus Escitalopram for Depression

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry

Psychedelics Today: Amanda Feilding – The Beckley Foundation: Changing Minds through Psychedelic Research The Vasopressin System: Physiology and Clinical Strategies

YouTube: Amanda Feilding on Trepanation The Google engineer who thinks the company’s AI has come to life

About Hans Eriksson

Dr. Hans Eriksson is a highly respected drug developer and clinical psychiatrist with over 20 years of pharmaceutical experience. He holds an MD and Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from Lund University and an Executive MBA from Stockholm School of Economics. Eriksson’s specialties include drug development, clinical psychiatry (e.g. mood and anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and emergency psychiatry). Prior to becoming Chief Medical Officer at HMNC Brain Health, Eriksson served as Chief Medical Officer at COMPASS Pathways and previously as Senior Director of Clinical Research at Lundbeck and Medical Science Director at AstraZeneca. He has worked on five late-phase clinical development programs for depression indications, three of which have resulted in regulatory approvals for Major Depressive Disorder.

Socials: Linkedin

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PT356 – Brom Rector – Investing in Psychedelics and The Rush to Improve on the Classics

In this episode, Joe interviews Brom Rector: podcaster and founder of Empath Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in psychedelic medicine startups.

Rector talks about which companies he sees succeeding, which companies are set up to fail, which he is investing in, and why the current crash in psychedelic business (where everything was once over-hyped and now we’re being overly skeptical) is a good thing. He believes that with the current focus on medicalization, the psychedelic community is being ignorant over just how big of an industry will exist outside of that paradigm, and finds it interesting how many people are focused on creating new compounds: How can anyone really improve on the classic psychedelics? 

Other than a focus on the business side of psychedelics, this was recorded in-person, and the conversation goes to a lot of other places: the theory of psychedelics damaging heart valves; the connection between Oprah, MDMA, and Mormons in UTAH; Xanax as a psychedelic security blanket; why so many psychedelic-friendly people love microdosing but have never had a deep experience; logical positivism and why “evidence-based” sounds pretentious; the DSM-5; Colorado Initiative 58; the power in branding and the emergence of high-end packaging; Mike Tyson; Compass Pathways; Christian Angermayer’s leaked memo; ibogaine; Dr. Zee and the next generation of Shulgins, other ways of knowing; and much, much more (just look at how many links there are). 

Notable Quotes

“The tech, future-y, optimist version of me that likes the idea of progress and experimentation at all costs loves it, but it’s also like: mushrooms have been around for like 2,000 years. In business, in order to succeed, you need to improve on something, and usually not just an incremental improvement either – you need to make a big improvement, otherwise no one really cares. Can you imagine what a 10x improvement over psilocybin would be? I can’t really imagine that.”

“You see all these …sketchy Canadian companies, and a lot of them are just making the slightest modifications to these molecules, calling them something new, sending out a bunch of press releases, raising money for investors; and is that – this bullshit thing started by this random company, going to replace psilocybin? I don’t think so.” 

“I’ve heard a lot of different companies talking about trip-stoppers as a big business plan, and I don’t know, dude. It’s interesting; the thing to me (and this is just my personal gut reaction about this) is in my experience, the moments immediately following when I thought I wanted the trip to stop is when I learned the lesson.”

“I think that they may realize eventually that this IP stuff may be helpful for them to achieve dominance in the pharma space, but it’s not going to prevent people from growing their own mushrooms, [or] people from seeking decriminalized care under Measure 109 or [in] Denver. …People are just kind of being willfully ignorant of how big this non-FDA market for psychedelics is going to be, I think. And maybe the people at Atai think that they can stop it by lobbying or something, but I don’t think they think they can do that. The people are going to speak, and the people want shrooms.” 


Apple podcasts: ”Brom Podcast” (formerly “The Integration Conversation”

Brom Podcast: 35: Sam Banister – The Art and Science of Designing Novel Psychedelic Compounds

Psylo: Psychedelic-inspired medicine to treat mental illness Do Psychedelics Carry A Heart Risk? Is MDMA Neurotoxic? Numinus to Acquire Novamind, Creating the North American Industry Leader in Psychedelic Therapy and Research Psychedelic Bulletin: MINDCURE – A Canary in the Psychedelic Coal Mine?

Psychedelics Today: PT233 – JR Rahn of MindMed – LSD, ADHD, and Decriminalization

Psychedelics Today: The Teafaerie – Psychedelic Emergenc(y), Shamanism, 5-MeO-DMT and more! Drugs and the Meaning of Life

YouTube: Alex Jones – Magellan is a lot cooler than Justin Bieber Logical positivism Election 2022: Colorado psychedelic legalization and decriminalization guide

Twitter: Zeus’ post (LSD atomizer, not a DMT pen)

Apple Podcasts: Hotboxin With Mike Tyson

Psychedelics Today: PT351 – Seth Rosenberg – The Trauma In Being Arrested and The Injustice of the Drug War Legal status of ibogaine by country

Twitter: Depressed panda meme

YouTube: Linton Kwesi Johnson – Inglan Is a Bitch

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, by Michael Pollan Investors Are Debating Who Should Own the Future of Psychedelics

Psychedelics Today: PTSF 41 (with Mendel Kaelen of Wavepaths)

Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs (Vol. 1 & 2): 50 Years of Research, Edited by Dennis McKenna

The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications, by Christian Rätsch

About Brom Rector

Brom Rector is the founder of Empath Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in psychedelic medicine startups.

Prior to founding Empath, Brom spent 7 years as a portfolio manager and quantitative researcher – most recently as a Global Macro PM at Crabel Capital Management, a quant fund with $9B AUM.

After leaving Crabel in 2020, Brom started a podcast that covers the psychedelics industry from an investing, scientific, and cultural impact perspective. The research that went into this podcast and the connections it established laid the groundwork for what would become Empath Ventures.

Socials: Twitter

​Rate, review, and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or anywhere you like to listen.

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Navigating Psychedelics