• October 2014

Get Ready to Unlock Your Potential

Ah, the power of potential. Who doesn’t want to tap into their innate gifts and bring to life all the characteristics and capabilities that make their contribution to the world unique and important? This is especially true for the small-business owner.

But how?

  • Confucius said: “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential … these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”
  • Pope St. John XXIII advised: “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”
  • And Winston Churchill believed: “Continuous effort—not strength or intelligence—is the key to unlocking our potential.”

Still, harnessing the true potential of yourself, and your business, can be difficult and frustrating. That’s especially true if you are struggling with disorders that plague millions—such as alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, and post-traumatic stress.

That’s why we are excited to feature best-selling author Tom Shroder and his new book, “Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal.” In it, the former Washington Post Magazine editor reveals the therapeutic powers of psychedelic drugs. When taken in controlled, medical settings, his research shows they may have the power to heal. Scroll down for more.

Throughout this issue, our columnists help you find additional ways to unlock your potential.

  • Brilliant artist Bob Staake is a living illustration of what it means to tap your potential. Case in point: his latest, My Pet Book, which he wrote and illustrated.
  • And two of our retirement experts show us how to wisely plan ahead for the future. Don’t miss suggestions from Estate Planning attorney Lisa Hughes on what to consider when writing your Will. And Certified Financial Planner Michael Egan provides a checklist for 20-somethings in his article on Millennials and Money.

We leave you with this parting thought from Albert Hofmann, the Swiss scientist featured in “Acid Test,” who was the first person to synthesize, ingest, and learn of the psychedelic effects of LSD: “Instead of all of this energy and effort directed at the war to end drugs, how about a little attention to drugs which end war?”

Here’s to unlocking your potential. — Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, Be Inkandescent magazine

Tom Shroder Takes Us on a Trip With "Acid Test"

COVER STORY:
OCTOBER 2014

LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal

Author Tom Shroder Investigates the Powers of Psychedelic Drugs

By Hope Katz Gibbs, Publisher
Be Inkandescent

When former Washington Post Magazine editor Tom Shroder was a 21-year-old college journalist, he noticed an article about a charismatic hippie with a pet wolf who was building himself a house in the woods. His name was Rick Doblin, then 22.

“He was trying to live authentically, guided by an inner light rather than society’s preconceived ideas; consciously working to discover and create his own destiny rather than trudging along the rutted tracks set before him,” Shroder explains decades later in his new book, Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal.

In the years since, Shroder has written about Doblin numerous times—the former hippie went on to become a leader in the psychedelic healing community. He founded the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and has been at the forefront of the fight for advancing the responsible use of psychedelic therapy for more than 30 years.

LSD? Ecstasy? Really?

Shroder encourages us to open our minds to the fact that lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) can heal. In fact, that was the premise of Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann, who is credited with being the first person to synthesize the drug back in 1938. Five years later, he was the first person to ingest and learn of the psychedelic effects of the compound.

On his 100th birthday, in 2006, Hofmann said in a speech: “It gave me an inner joy, an open mindedness, a gratefulness, open eyes, and an internal sensitivity for the miracles of creation. […] I think that in human evolution it has never been as necessary to have this substance, LSD. It is just a tool to turn us into what we are supposed to be.”

Certainly, LSD and Ecstasy are controversial. Taken without medical supervision, these hallucinogens can be dangerous—even lethal. But Shroder insists there is more to the story.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Weingarten says of Shroder’s 2014 tome, “A captivating narrative with irresistible characters, [Shroder’s book] will leave you wondering whether we have the moral right to oppose this breakthrough therapy.”

In “Acid Test,” released in September by Blue Rider Press, Shroder contends that there are most definitely therapeutic powers in psychedelic drugs—especially in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as alcoholism, drug addiction, and depression, among others disorders that plague many Americans.

“Since the discovery of the profound alterations of consciousness caused by LSD, psychedelics have played a crucial role in the still-nascent quest to understand the link between mind and matter,” Shroder believes. “From the beginning, compounds like LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and MDMA (better known as Ecstasy) have astounded psychiatrists and researchers in their ability to produce profound altered states that can permanently untangle the deep-seated compulsions behind alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, and PTSD.”

However, after two decades in which psychedelics became the most studied psychoactive drugs in history, their widespread abuse prompted a backlash that shut down the research. “Ironically,” Shroder points out, “the prohibitions on research did nothing to curb illegal and ill-advised recreational use, which continued to mount. Meanwhile, the promise of psychedelic therapy remained out of reach of the millions of people who could benefit from it.”

In an effort to shed light on the potential healing powers of LSD, Shroder braids together the stories of three men, forming the narrative that he hopes will spur a new age of acceptance.

  • Rick Doblin, Shroder’s old friend, who has been on the forefront of the fight for advancing the responsible use of LSD and other psychedelic therapies.

  • Dr. Michael Mithoefer, a clinical researcher and psychiatrist, who for decades has been conducting clinical trials using MDMA to treat abuse survivors and those suffering from PTSD. Click here to see his YouTube video.

  • Nicholas Blackston, a marine combat veteran who suffered nightmarish hallucinations and panic attacks on his return from the war in Iraq and underwent life-changing treatment under the direction of Dr. Mithoefer.

Don’t stop now! Click here to read our Q&A with Shroder. Scroll down or click here to read the Foreword to Shroder’s book. And listen to our podcast on Inkandescent Radio.

Tom Shroder on Why He Wrote "Acid Test"

By Author Tom Shroder
Foreword
Acid Test

In 1975 I was a 21-year-old college journalist (shown right), home on spring break in Sarasota, Florida, when I noticed a blurb in the local newspaper about a charismatic hippie with a pet wolf who was building himself a spectacular house in the woods near town. I decided to go out and see it for myself. I don’t remember anything about the blurb. I doubt it mentioned anything about the influence of psychedelic drugs in this project. But I am guessing that I inferred it, because while I didn’t much care about techniques of home building—nor would my college-student readers—I was extremely interested in the implications of the psychedelic experience.

I’m looking at a taped-together, Xeroxed copy of the story that resulted from that visit. Still no mention of drugs, but there it is between the lines. I wrote about the philosophy of the young builder, a guy named Rick Doblin (shown right), just a year older than me. It was about trying to live authentically, guided by an inner light rather than society’s preconceived ideas; consciously working to discover and create his own destiny rather than trudging along the rutted tracks set before him.

These were the kinds of notions floating around a certain subculture in those days; it was evident in the woodland home itself, with its giant, rainbow-themed, spiritually suggestive stained-glass window. Maybe we discussed psychedelics, maybe we didn’t. But they were in the air.

I myself was not entirely unfamiliar. Under the influence of the psilocybin mushrooms my friends and I had learned to pluck from cow dung in the rural fields not far from campus, then boil into tea and drink, I had seen the world—and myself—from a novel vantage point. It was like being able, for a few precious hours, to climb above your life and view it from on high, a perspective every bit as revealing as seeing a too-familiar landscape from the top of a mountain. Instead of individual cornstalks or oak trees or buildings, you saw checkerboard patterns of fields, serpentine forests following the course of a river, villages arrayed around ascending spires of churches. You saw, for once, how it all fit together.

One experience stands out in my memory, because it is something that I have carried with me, every day since, for four decades.

As the drug took effect, instead of feeling the usual lift, I grew increasingly entangled by anxiety. I began to obsess about an ethical problem I was struggling with, which generalized to feelings of inadequacy in life overall and my inability to find solutions.

The more I struggled against these feelings, the weightier and more intractable they seemed. And then suddenly I had a vision: I saw myself with my arms wrapped around a boulder. I could feel its weight, almost unbearable to hold, and yet I was clinging to it. I knew that the heavy stone consisted of all my doubts and anxieties, and as I desperately clutched it to my chest, I saw in a flash that part of me chose to be anxious—as a way to avoid making choices and evade responsibility for them. To be free of that awful weight, all I had to do was open my arms, which I did. The stone simply dropped away.

Ever since, although it has rarely been easy, I’ve been able to see negative emotions, on a profound level, as a choice, and the will to let them go as something I could develop, like a muscle. The more I practiced, the better I got, and I no longer needed the mushrooms to do it.

There wasn’t a moment I decided to stop doing psychedelic drugs. When I left the college environment they became less available, and I gained more responsibilities—a job, a family, a professional reputation—all of which made any illegal activity, and the potential health risks, unacceptable. But I never lost my interest in those psychedelic experiences, or forgot their profundity, and the lasting good they did me.

Ten years after graduation, I had become an editor at the Miami Herald Sunday magazine, Tropic, when I noticed a story in the Tampa newspaper about a perennial college student who was promoting the party drug Ecstasy as a breakthrough in psychotherapy. I did a double take: it was Rick Doblin, the hippie with the house in the woods, the same guy I had written about a decade earlier. I assigned a Herald feature writer to do a cover story on him. We headlined it: “A Timothy Leary for the ’80s.”

Twenty years passed. Now I was editor of The Washington Post Magazine, and once again an article that spoke to my lingering interest in the possible positive effects of psychedelics caught my eye. This time it was in the New York Times, about Harvard initiating a study testing the use of MDMA—Ecstasy—to treat anxiety and depression in terminal cancer patients. The man sponsoring the study: a very sophisticated-sounding Harvard Kennedy School PhD named Rick Doblin—the hippie in the woods.

I got a phone number and Rick answered. When I told him my name, he laughed. He not only remembered me and the two stories from twenty and thirty years earlier, he still had copies of them both. And just that morning, he told me, he’d held up the “Tim Leary” cover of Tropic at a board meeting of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), his nonprofit organization, to demonstrate how completely he’d remade his image, from a rebellious hippie to the sponsor of cutting-edge scientific research in some of the nation’s more conservative institutions.

This time I wrote the story myself, focusing on the MAPS-sponsored research a psychiatrist named Michael Mithoefer was conducting in Charleston, South Carolina, treating with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy mostly female victims of sexual abuse. The story appeared in The Washington Post Magazine in November 2007, and much of it has been adapted here in chapter forty-two.

I was pleased enough with the piece as published, but I felt it barely scratched the surface, both because of rapidly accumulating developments in psychedelic research and because I sensed that the significance of any given study could not be fully assessed without a deeper understanding of the people behind the studies, not to mention the century-long struggle of Western culture to come to grips with these powerful and, in some ways, profoundly threatening drugs.

This is what I have attempted in Acid Test.

Whatever success I have had I owe entirely to the openness and honesty of the principal characters. Those people listed in the acknowledgments have granted me access to scores of records and privileged documents and agreed to sit for what amounted to a combined total of more than a hundred hours of interviews, unflinchingly answering the most intimate and sensitive questions, revealing things that were personally painful and might very well expose them to negative judgments or significantly complicate their lives.

Their reasons for agreeing to all the above are transparent. They accepted my contention that the full and complete disclosure of all the information surrounding the use and abuse of psychedelic drugs, the history of psychedelic therapy, the motivations of the researchers, and the experiences of the subjects is the best argument for continued and extended support of rigorous and responsible investigation.

I owe a special debt to those among them who have undergone clinical trials to treat debilitating post-traumatic stress, a disorder that makes it particularly difficult and potentially painful to open up. In particular, I am indebted to Donna Kilgore, Tony Macie, and, above all, Nicholas Blackston. They all spent hours reviewing their case histories with me, leaving nothing off the record, as well as giving me permission to listen to or watch voluminous audio-and videotapes of their therapeutic sessions. It is hard to imagine a more naked vulnerability than allowing an outsider to witness hours spent delving into your deepest, most charged and haunting intimacies explored under the powerful effect of MDMA. Yet, these people made that sacrifice willingly, for no other reason than a sense of duty. They felt the therapy benefited them and quite possibly saved their lives, and they believed sharing their stories might help make the therapy available to others.

I am moved and awed by their courage.

Click here to read our Q&A with Tom Shroder.

Click here to learn more about Acid Test.

When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”

– Audre Lorde

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

– Dalai Lama

4oz tequila + 1oz TripleSec + 2oz lime juice + 1oz simple syrup (sugar=water), 1 cup crushed ice. Shake + dance around the kitchen.

– Avenida Margarita

You don’t go into a field that requires cracking people’s heads open or operating on something as delicate as the spinal cord unless you are comfortable with taking risks.”

– Dr. Ben Carson

Don’t follow, lead. Don’t copy, create. Don’t start, finish. Don’t sit still, move. Don’t fit in, stand out. Don’t sit quietly, speak up. (Not all the time, sure, but more often.)”

– Seth Godin

How do you stay resilient? It’s about momentum. Like riding a bicycle. If you stop you fall over. So I keep pedaling.”

– Diane Lane

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

– Charles Darwin

Women once had the goal of being Superwoman; I think most of us now simply strive to have a super day.”

– Author, Activist Lee Woodruff

There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”

– JFK

Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.”

– Thomas Carlyle

Passion makes perfect.”

– Eugene Biro

Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.”

– Francesca Reigle

Many people prefer to play it safe when it comes to business matters. Are you willing to take risks in the pursuit of entrepreneurial success?”

– Steven Schussler

There are children playing in the street who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago.”

– J. Robert Oppenheimer

If you were independently wealthy and never had to work a day in your life, would you still choose to spend your time attempting to become a successful entrepreneur?”

– Steven Schussler

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

– T.S. Eliot

If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.”

– Jesse Jackson

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

You don’t love someone because of their looks or their clothes or their car. You love them because they sing a song only your heart can understand.”

– L.J. Smith

But all the while I was alone, the past was close behind, I seen a lot of women, but she never escaped my mind, and I just grew, tangled up in blue.”

– Bob Dylan

Things don’t change. You change your way of looking, that’s all.”

– Carlos Castaneda

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

– Anais Nin

Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.
 Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”

– Ella Fitzgerald

I was taught at a very young age that you can do whatever you want to, but you have to make it happen — not just talk about it.”

– Kathleen Jo Ryan

Think of yourself as on the threshold of unparalleled success. A whole, clear, glorious life lies before you. Achieve! Achieve!”

– Andrew Carnegie

Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them!”

– Madam C.J. Walker

Most people never pick up the phone and call. Most people never ask, and that’s what separates the people who do things from the people who just dream about them.”

– Steve Jobs

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

– Magical

Some things are destined to be—it just takes us a couple of tries
to get there.”

– J.R. Ward, Lover Mine

I can’t go back to yesterday—because I was a different person then.”

– Lewis Carroll

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which obstacles vanish.”

– John Quincy Adams

The journey is the reward.”

– Greg Norman

History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.”

– John F. Kennedy

Do not be afraid of mistakes, providing you do not make the same one twice.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.”

– Steve Jobs

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.”

– Abraham Lincoln

The fixity of a habit is generally in direct proportion to its absurdity.”

– Marcel Proust

Speaking more than one language is no longer just an asset in today’s job market; it is a requirement.”

– Tom Adams, CEO, Rosetta Stone

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

– Jimi Hendrix

Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds.”

– Thomas Dunn

By your stumbling the world is perfected.”

– Sri Aurobindo

The best reason to start an organization is to create a product or service to make the world a better place.”

– Guy Kawasaki

You must learn to be still in the midst of activity 
and to be vibrantly alive in repose.”

– Indira Ghandi

Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail. There’s only make.”

– Corita Kent

You only live once. But if you do it right, once is enough.”

– Mae West

Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.”

– J.K. Rowling

My job is my hobby. I come to work to play.”

– Uli Becker, president, Reebok International

A man without a smiling face
 should not open a shop.”

– Chinese Proverb

The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”

– Nolan Bushnell, founder, Chuck E. Cheese's

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

– Joseph Campbell

Be Inkandescent Magazine's Back Issues

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