• 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.

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.

– Robert Frost

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

– Eckhart Tolle

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

– Seneca

The only way to compel men to speak good of us is to do it.”

– Voltaire

The world I believed in, back in my most innocent, uninformed, childish mind—is real.”

– Martha Beck

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

‎The biggest flaw in our existing theory of capitalism lies in its misrepresentation of human nature.”

– Muhammad Yunus

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly,
 what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The journey is the reward.”

– Greg Norman

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

– Marcel Proust

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow.”

– Langston Hughes

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

– Uli Becker, president, Reebok International

A lot of people have ideas, but few decide to do something about them now. Not next week. But today.”

– Nolan Bushnell, founder, Atari

The man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled.”

– Andrew Carnegie

The mind is everything. What you think, you become.”

– Buddha

There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”

– John Lennon

The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. The greatest failure is to not try.”

– Debbi Fields, Mrs. Fields Cookies

The gem cannot be polished without friction; nor man perfected without trials.”

– Chinese proverb

A great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up.”

– Albert Schweitzer

Education is an admirable thing to have, but it is well to remember that nothing worth knowing can be taught.”

– Oscar Wilde

Death is to lose the earth you know, for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth.”

– Thomas Wolfe

When I was younger I thought success was being a star, driving nice cars, having groupies. But today I think the most important thing is to live your life with integrity.

– Ellen DeGeneres

Who cares if my glass is half empty or half full; I still have something to drink.”

– Optimism rules

The goal of Life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with nature.”

– Joseph Cambell

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

– Thomas Edison

It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.”

– Aristotle

Remember that it’s okay to ask for help when you’re stumped, because sometimes you really can’t be expected to handle everything alone.”

– Martha Beck

I have spent a good part of my life convincing people that a blank sheet of paper is the greatest opportunity in the world, and not frightening at all.”

– Marty Skler, executive vp, Walt Disney Imagineering

When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ‘em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

If you want to be busy, keep trying to be perfect. If you want to be happy, focus on making a difference.”

– Lisa Earle McLeod

Treat the attainment of happiness in the same way an entrepreneur would approach building a business — with a vision, plan, goals, and a systematic approach.”

– Ted Leonsis

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

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.”

– Steve Jobs, Apple, Inc.

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

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

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it”

– Andrew Carnegie

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

The follow-your-gut mentality of the entrepreneur has the potential to take you anywhere you want to go or run you right out of business.”

– Bill Rancic, "The Apprentice"

Look at everything as though you were
seeing it either for the first or last time.
Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.”

– Betty Smith

Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.”

– Basil King

You take your life in your own hands, and what happens?
 A terrible thing: no one to blame.”

– Erica Jong

The awakening to the mystery of life is a revolutionary event; in it an old world is destroyed so that a new and better one may take its place.”

– J.J. Van Der Leeuw, The Conquest of Illusion

Your own words are the bricks and mortar
of the dreams you want to realize.
 The words you choose and their use establish the life you experience.”

– Sonia Croquette

We are perfectionists. We are hungry to work all the time. We are entertained by every aspect of business and we never want to stop working.”

– Suzy Welch

‎Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.”

– Booker T. Washington

A people who mean to be their Governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

– James Madison

Don’t wait for someone else to lead you to your right life; that privilege—and responsibility—is yours alone.”

– Martha Beck

Let us seize the day and the opportunity and strive for that greatness of spirit that measures life not by its disappointments but by its possibilities.”

– W.E.B. Du Bois

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

– John Quincy Adams

Success is about finding a livelihood that brings joy, self-sufficiency, and a sense of contributing.”

– Anita Roddick

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