The Points Interview — Thomas B. Roberts

Editor’s Note: Tom Roberts’  The Psychedelic Future of the Mind: How Entheogens are Enhancing Cognition, Boosting Intelligence, and Raising Values is due out this month from Inner Traditions-Bear & Co. in Rochester, Vermont.

roberts-cover-21.  Describe your book in terms your mother (or the average mother-in-the-street) could understand.

This book looks forward, not backward. Experiences beget ideas, and The Psychedelic Future of the Mind is an exploration of some ideas psychedelics engender.  Based upon a collection of pieces of scientific research, case studies, anecdotes, and other information about psychedelics, this book asks, “When all these pieces are assembled, what do they tell us about what it means to be a human, about our minds, and about the future?”

The first sentences of Psychedelic Mind’s introduction pretty well nail down the book’s perspective. Early books on the psychedelic experience reported on some fascinating events and curious people. Newer ones describe the burgeoning field of psychedelic psychotherapy or offer accounts of neurotransmitters and synapses. Meantime, the river of autobiographical trip reports flows constantly onward. When collected and organized, the nuggets of information hidden in these sources provide clues to the human mind and how it might be developed. They hint at our social future, including in relation to education and business. They prompt new scholarly fields of endeavor, offering new insights into such diverse territories of investigation as the study of cognition and intelligence, of values and religion, of immune system strength, and of our conception of death. They stimulate new perspectives on film criticism, history, and philosophy.

2.  What do you think a bunch of drug and alcohol historians might find particularly interesting about your book?

Why do people do psychedelics? Why are so many of psychedelic advocates intellectuals, scientists, religious scholars, and artists? Certainly, not all psychedelic users fit these categories but a surprising and influential number do. Many casual users are also intrigued by psychedelics. To understand these users and their motivations, it is necessary to see psychedelics as they do. By describing some of the ideas that psychedelics bring forth, Psychedelic Mind provides this missing perspective. For intellectuals, scientists, religious leaders, and scholars, psychedelics often give rise to fruitful ideas. A history of drug use that omits this aspect of psychedelic use is incomplete at best, at a minimum misleading, and at worst produces destructive policies.

roberts-with-dog

Now that the hard part is over, what is the thing YOU find most interesting about your book?

The Psychedelic Future of the Mind proposes:

  1. Multistate Theory embeds drug use in a more complete theory of the mind that includes all mindbody states and other psychotechnologies (ways of producing mindbody states including psychoactive drugs).
  2. We are entering a new era in religion based on direct, personal, sacred experience, replacing our current text-based and word-oriented religions.
  3. It is possible to invent/design new mental processes, each containing new cognitive, affective, and physical and abilities.
  4. Social values such as altruism and personal values such as open-mindedness can be produced experimentally. Is this a key to other paths of moral and intellectual development?
  5. As well as sometimes overcoming addiction and alcoholism — as Bill Wilson proposed — psychedelic mystical experiences can widen people’s motivation to include family, community, and even all humanity.

Every research project leaves some stones unturned. What stone from The Psychedelic Future of the Mind are you most curious to see turned over soon?

Daily positive emotional experiences boost the immune system somewhat. Mystical experiences occasion positive affect. But do the latter boost our immune systems too? If so, can psychedelically induced mystical experiences significantly enhance the immune system? Might such enhancement — psychedelic or otherwise — account for some remarkable cures and spontaneous remissions from disease?

BONUS QUESTION: In an audio version of this book, who should provide the narration?

Alternate chapters read by Meryl Streep and Christopher Plummer.