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Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Skarekrow, Nov 16, 2013.
Lol well they were really going at each other in that discussion, weren't they - thanks for linking in a PT article, I had forgotten to check that site lately even though I used to. Most of the psi stuff I'm ignorant about although quite a few interesting-looking links in there, maybe will follow up on some, not that I can't relate to some experiences that seem to fit into that category. Though it's still mysterious unknowable terrain for me despite whatever I've followed up otherwise with various studies. On a couple of points though And it becomes a lot more like space inside a black hole which is rather curious. Though the fact that the space time interval [GR] seems to be the only quantity different observers agree on is strange in the extreme even if it's shown to make sense mathematically. I have no idea what this means but it has been bothering me for some time. The other oddities of QM information passing are familiar to most people here but here it comes down to 'pretty strange stuff'. Lol if you follow some of the stuff I was posting years ago some of it included things like this - mainly because the word scientism was used here and I did have some issues with this at the time. Though I am not so sure things are as dire as this depiction nowadays. And indeed what is really the issue with the disagreement here - is it one based around psychology ("we have limits to what we validate and accept for a reason") or going at it from the two different views - i.e. "unless we can see or measure it it's not true" vs "unless we can definitely invalidate it we should keep an open mind and allow the possibility of it being true" because if the latter these views will eventually find a point of agreement and converge, at some point. (yeah, need to read up on psi stuff some time lol)
Great response. PT does have some really good articles from time to time...they aren't too afraid to post a few that might seem to push the limits of accepted science which is nice to see. If you want a great book to catch up on the history of the study of Psi and where it seems to be headed, I would suggest a book called "Fringe-o-logy" - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10437310-fringe-ology It's one of the best I've read on the subject without spinning off into other tangents or attempting to prove or disprove. Ghosts and the paranormal have always been of interest to me ever since I can remember as a child. I used to check out the four books on the subject at my elementary school library quite frequently, lol. I guess I was prone to be more of a "believer" since I had those early experiences going back as far as I can remember. Even when I bring up the subject now with my Mom she agrees that there were some very unexplainable things that went on in my childhood home. I cannot say for sure if it was ghostly in nature or if it was some kind of Psi related phenomena...but I do know it scared the holy hell out of me, my brother and parents...though it was always centered around me for some reason. Even now there are very few logical or sensical reasons for what took place - and I know it wasn't hallucinatory as someone like Oliver Sacks might conclude, because others experienced and witnessed it as well. Thus began my lifelong search into the realm of strange phenomena...whenever things would be calm for a few years, there was always something that would inevitably happen to rekindle my interest and conviction. Still, I wouldn't say that I have a solid belief in any one conclusion...it's all still so shrouded, inconclusive, and uncharted. Quantum mechanics does offer some interesting ideas that could be further developed into something possibly revealing. But I'm also comfortable with the acceptance of not knowing and maybe never knowing. Perhaps that is part of what is appealing...the mystery of it all. There are so many possibilities, some more fantastical than others...I suppose you could say my belief is akin to faith, though as I've said, actually seeing and witnessing something physically move in ways normal physics does not allow has given me a degree of certainty at least in the idea that there is something happening that is yet to be explained by modern science. Time is very strange yes! With these recent dreams that were seemingly precognitive, it only provokes more queries into the ideas of it being fluid or one being able to step outside of it. I happen to think that we do step outside of time upon our death...but I have nothing to back that up...just ponderances and intuitive feelings. The dream I had after my Father died was certainly strange, but in the split second before I woke up, I seemed to have caught a glimpse of this lifetime being nothing more than the blink of an eye...and that was oddly comforting at the time...it was as if he wanted me to know that it won't be long until we see each other again, no matter how long it might seem to us in our current state of existence. I remember it brought me to tears and I woke up sobbing. Yes, it seems there are a lot of so-called scientists who readily dismiss such ideas...not so much because they have explored it themselves and come to that conclusion, but because it's perceived to be irreverent to the current paradigm of materialist dogmatic science. And it's difficult to fully fault someone for that either...if you've never had an experience then it is not something that one might bother to muse on much less devote time and effort to studying or searching for proof. I just don't like those who are so certain in their dismissals that they seem to jump through flaming hoops to disprove what is the simplest explanation - that it's just not yet known to science. Even Susan Blackmore had a fantastical and vivid out of body/astral projection which she then proceeded to pick apart and frankly imho - destroy the beauty of with silly scientific dismissals of equally unproven theory. As if she cannot say that perhaps it was what it seemed to be...Occam's Razor telling her she went out of body...it must be this other far more complex thing that is also unknown but is mentally and scientifically easier to accept in the fundamentalist bias of materialist science. It would be nice if there was a more open-minded approach to the subject...but there are an awful lot of people who have already made up their mind on the subject without really taking the time to study what proof exists. As the one fellow stated to the other - the controls and standards applied to Psi have a bar that is set much higher than any other area of study...with many replications and even the CIA and labs such as DARPA concluding that it's legit phenomena. All of that gets thrown in the garbage because there is still no working model...if you cannot explain how it occurs then it must not be. That is beyond skeptical and downright unjustly dismissive. Anyhow, thanks for expressing and explaining your thoughts! Talk to you soon!
Aha, well thank you for the link, I'm at least going to bookmark it and take the name of the book down. Actually there are some goodreads recommends I have yet to get to but I've been at a place where I'd like to do some reading for a while. I remember learning about this some time ago and I found it curious, though didn't pursue researching it further. But it left the question of why they made so little noise about this (I think the authors behind what became netflix's Stranger Things possibly consulted some of this material as well.) Well I have had one poltergeist-like experience long long ago followed by some very strange premonitions that turned out to be true also around that time - when I see events like this that all look statistically improbable as well as extremely odd on their own it starts begging the question. More recently I'd say I had something like an out of body experience in 2017 that has no explanation - but I wasn't using exotic substances or anything like it. Maybe it was a product of my mood at the time but it sure was an odd mood to have produced such a reaction - so anyway, yes, I can see things happening having seen some happen in my own life. (The 'they all happen at once' theme is consistent though, when they do they do - and there are others who have shared somewhat similar experiences also. Now I know they didn't make those up either.) Having faith is good - the first thing I wanted to say here. As far as science, it was actually science that drove me to look at this more closely (although at the time it was simply esoteric studies) due to a prominent figure vehemently opposing any notion that such studies have any validity. I asked myself why he wants me to be so sure they don't and what makes him so sure - and decided to check them out for myself. Needless to say the conclusion is the one you made here, and it was one of my more obvious ramblings on here in '18. I don't believe this means all scientists approach the matter in this way but it definitely seems to point to a current which has at least confined the majority view to this point in the past. Hey, good thoughts on the subject! Enjoyed thinking about this one
Hope you are doing well today. Thanks for the response! I would love to hear about your poltergeist-like experience and your OOBE you had when you can find the time? When you had them what external factors were happening in your life? Where you particularly stressed at the time...or inversely, feeling grounded and centered? Having induced an OOBE several times with early morning meditation I can attest that it's pretty fantastical! Unfortunately it took a lot of time and effort to self-induce as opposed to the times where I've had spontaneous experiences. I seemed to have much more control when it was a spontaneous occurrence, where it was easy to lose cohesion when in meditation. Yes...I used to really struggle with the idea of faith. Having been raised Mormon and then our family leaving the church when I was about 16 was probably part of that. Being told that this church and the beliefs that I was born and raised in are no longer valid was likely a factor in shaping some of my ideas on faith that I had for quite a while. It's not hard for me now...in fact there isn't a clearly defined line between my faith and my skepticism. I feel that they are actually supportive of one another. In fact, I don't feel my faith would be that strong if I didn't question it frequently. Not sure how or when this was resolved in my mind...but it used to really bother me lol. Talk to you soon, take care and have a peaceful day!
What happens when you die: 'I became one with the Universe' A man who temporarily died believes the afterlife consists of becoming one with the Universe, feeling "every atom, every particle". What happens to the conscience when we die is a hotly contested matter of debate. Some people believe it just vanishes along with our body, while others believe it ascends to a heavenly realm. However, one man believes he has the answer. A person by the name of Joe believes that when we die, our conscience becomes one with the Universe, with our minds joining the grand picture. Joe believes this after temporarily dying following a seizure. Before he could be resuscitated, Joe believes he saw what the afterlife has to offer. He explained on the Near Death Experience Research Foundation: "I was sucked into the Universe, which from my point of view, was within/ inside me. "Everything in the Universe was me. I felt every atom, every particle. Consciousness was universal. "Something happened to time which I cannot describe. "Then I heard the voice, ‘This is peace; this is love; this is truth. You know what this is. You have been here before. You will be here again. Accept it, and let yourself enter it. It is time to come back.’ "It wasn't necessarily verbal communication, but more of another sense, one that we do not have when we are alive. "In this experience, I saw that this life is extremely short. Life and Death had new meanings. "Life was suffering, and Death was pure pleasure. I did not want to come back to life, I was afraid of it, like someone is afraid of death. "I despised life; it was removed from the truth, the love, the peace, and the pleasure. Life meant Death to me. Death meant everything good." Exactly what consciousness is remains a mystery to scientists, with researchers struggling to pin down exactly what it is. According to some well-respected scientists, quantum mechanics allows consciousness to live on following the body’s eventual demise. Dr Robert Lanza coined the phrase ‘biocentrism’ which is a theory that the consciousness is released into the universe through sub-atomic particles after death. One physicist and mathematician believes our consciousness, or soul, reconnects with the “greater infinite identity” after death. Former University of Oxford professor Peter Russell, author of The Global Brain, told Conscious Lifestyle Mag: “It would seem that one way of understanding it is that the individual consciousness is dissolving back into the infinite consciousness. “The consciousness that I experience has this individual limitation because it is functioning in the world through my body, through my nervous system, through my eyes and ears. "That’s where our sense of being a unique individual comes from. When we begin to die and let go of our attachment to the body, consciousness lets go of that identity which it gained from its worldly functioning and reconnects with a greater infinite identity. “Those who’ve had near-death experiences often report there seems to be this dissolving of the senses, and a moving into light. “Everything becomes light after death.”
#AllLivesMatter people be like...
Enjoy! Inherent Compassion of a Self-Organizing Universe: Neil Theise Buddhism teaches the emptiness of inherent existence or, in other words, "everything is not a thing." Contemporary physics, chemistry and biology, seen through the simplifying lens of complexity theory (it sounds complex, but is actually simple) shows us that the non-dual realm is in complementarity with all of duality, that the presence/absence of boundaries, of separation, is dependent on perspective. "Wisdom" is seeing the world without delusion; science is one means to washing delusion from one's mind. In doing so, the inherent compassionate nature of the universe and of every being within and of that universe, therefore, as well, is revealed. Science and Nonduality is a community inspired by timeless wisdom, informed by cutting-edge science, and grounded in direct experience. We come together in an open-hearted exploration while celebrating our humanity.
Lovely to have you back and posting such great articles again The materialist view is of course easy to refute - a few moments introspection demonstrates quite easily that the material world we have access to is actually generated by our consciousness, not the other way round. At a deeper level, one of the major interpretations of Quantum physics supports the idea that the material world has no unambiguous existence unless it is observed. There is an alternative - the many worlds view which is even more weird lol. When it comes to psi, I find it bizarre that there are people who claim to be scientists rejecting something on negative 'proof'. You can argue that there is no evidence to date to support something, or that the evidence is flawed, but you can only claim it's impossible as an act of axiomatic faith. In other words, they turn science into a weird religion by doing that. The honorable thing is to take no-psi as a working hypothesis if you are that way inclined, rather than go on a dogmatic crusade against it. Similar attitudes were taken about continental drift when it was first suggested, and could have been made 200 years ago about the possibility of radio or TV. Failures of imagination, lack of open-mindedness, totally unscientific imho!
@John K - that's funny I was just explaining this to another INFJ not a week ago (the subject was actually something else but this ended up being the conclusion/example)
It doesn’t surprise me that this sort of thing attracts infjs. A lot of people get disturbed and anxious existentially if their pillars of reality are wobbled. I think this fear lies at the heart of the antagonism. Infjs are much more tolerant than some of the other types of the idea the world may be different to how it appears.
This is a good way of putting it, yes. (It agrees with the conclusions I've reached through interviewing people or just the impressions they have given when we discuss various scenarios.)
I couldn't agree more! But you know that, lol. Thanks for your two cents...it's always great to hear your take on things! Hope you have a peaceful weekend. It's super smokey here...yikes!! Apparently we have the worst air in the world right now...keeping all the windows closed and trying not to go outside! It's an apocalyptic reddish yellow sky...but what else would one expect from 2020? Much love!
Hmmmm? Who's brain do we live in? Thoughts? Physicist: The Entire Universe Might Be a Neural Network "The idea is definitely crazy, but if it is crazy enough to be true? That remains to be seen." VICTOR TANGERMANN SEPTEMBER 9TH 2020 https://futurism.com/physicist-entire-universe-neural-network It’s not every day that we come across a paper that attempts to redefine reality. But in a provocative preprint uploaded to arXiv this summer, a physics professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth named Vitaly Vanchurin attempts to reframe reality in a particularly eye-opening way — suggesting that we’re living inside a massive neural network that governs everything around us. In other words, he wrote in the paper, it’s a “possibility that the entire universe on its most fundamental level is a neural network.” For years, physicists have attempted to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. The first posits that time is universal and absolute, while the latter argues that time is relative, linked to the fabric of space-time. In his paper, Vanchurin argues that artificial neural networks can “exhibit approximate behaviors” of both universal theories. Since quantum mechanics “is a remarkably successful paradigm for modeling physical phenomena on a wide range of scales,” he writes, “it is widely believed that on the most fundamental level the entire universe is governed by the rules of quantum mechanics and even gravity should somehow emerge from it.” “We are not just saying that the artificial neural networks can be useful for analyzing physical systems or for discovering physical laws, we are saying that this is how the world around us actually works,” reads the paper’s discussion. “With this respect it could be considered as a proposal for the theory of everything, and as such it should be easy to prove it wrong.” The concept is so bold that most physicists and machine learning experts we reached out to declined to comment on the record, citing skepticism about the paper’s conclusions. But in a Q&A with Futurism, Vanchurin leaned into the controversy — and told us more about his idea. Futurism: Your paper argues that the universe might fundamentally be a neural network. How would you explain your reasoning to someone who didn’t know very much about neural networks or physics? Vitaly Vanchurin: There are two ways to answer your question. The first way is to start with a precise model of neural networks and then to study the behavior of the network in the limit of a large number of neurons. What I have shown is that equations of quantum mechanics describe pretty well the behavior of the system near equilibrium and equations of classical mechanics describes pretty well how the system further away from the equilibrium. Coincidence? May be, but as far as we know quantum and classical mechanics is exactly how the physical world works. The second way is to start from physics. We know that quantum mechanics works pretty well on small scales and general relativity works pretty well on large scales, but so far we were not able to reconcile the two theories in a unified framework. This is known as the problem of quantum gravity. Clearly, we are missing something big, but to make matters worse we do not even know how to handle observers. This is known as the measurement problem in context of quantum mechanics and the measure problem in context of cosmology. Then one might argue that there are not two, but three phenomena that need to be unified: quantum mechanics, general relativity and observers. 99% of physicists would tell you that quantum mechanics is the main one and everything else should somehow emerge from it, but nobody knows exactly how that can be done. In this paper I consider another possibility that a microscopic neural network is the fundamental structure and everything else, i.e. quantum mechanics, general relativity and macroscopic observers, emerges from it. So far things look rather promising. What first gave you this idea? First I just wanted to better understand how deep learning works and so I wrote a paper entitled “Towards a theory of machine learning”. The initial idea was to apply the methods of statistical mechanics to study the behavior of neural networks, but it turned out that in certain limits the learning (or training) dynamics of neural networks is very similar to the quantum dynamics we see in physics. At that time I was (and still is) on a sabbatical leave and decided to explore the idea that the physical world is actually a neural network. The idea is definitely crazy, but if it is crazy enough to be true? That remains to be seen. In the paper you wrote that to prove the theory was wrong, “all that is needed is to find a physical phenomenon which cannot be described by neural networks.” What do you mean by that? Why is such a thing “easier said than done?” Well, there are many “theories of everything” and most of them must be wrong. In my theory, everything you see around you is a neural network and so to prove it wrong all that is needed is to find a phenomenon which cannot be modeled with a neural network. But if you think about it it is a very difficult task manly because we know so little about how the neural networks behave and how the machine learning actually works. That was why I tried to develop a theory of machine learning on the first place. How does your research relate to quantum mechanics, and does it address the observer effect? There are two main lines of thought the Everett’s (or many-world’s) interpretation of quantum mechanics and Bohm’s (or hidden variables) interpretation. I have nothing new to say about the many-worlds interpretation, but I think I can contribute something to the hidden variables theories. In the emergent quantum mechanics which I considered, the hidden variables are the states of the individual neurons and the trainable variables (such as bias vector and weight matrix) are quantum variables. Note that the hidden variables can be very non-local and so the Bell’s inequalities are violated. An approximated space-time locality is expected to emerge, but strictly speaking every neuron can be connected to every other neuron and so the system need not be local. Do you mind expanding on the way this theory relates to natural selection? How does natural selection factor into the evolution of complex structures/biological cells? What I am saying is very simple. There are structures (or subnetworks) of the microscopic neural network which are more stable and there are other structures which are less stable. The more stable structures would survive the evolution, and the less stable structure would be exterminated. On the smallest scales I expect that the natural selection should produce some very low complexity structures such as chains of neurons, but on larger scales the structures would be more complicated. I see no reason why this process should be confined to a particular length scale and so the claim is that everything that we see around us (e.g. particles, atoms, cells, observers, etc.) is the outcome of natural selection. I was intrigued by your first email when you said you might not understand everything yourself. What did you mean by that? Were you referring to the complexity of the neural network itself, or to something more philosophical? Yes, I only refer to the complexity of neural networks. I did not even have time to think about what could be philosophical implications of the results. I need to ask: would this theory mean we’re living in a simulation? No, we live in a neural network, but we might never know the difference.
This is an interesting concept. It makes sense in some ways but in others it seems questionable. But what the hell do I know, lol? Enjoy! Thoughts? What If Certain Mental Disorders Are Not Disorders At All? A new paper by anthropologists argues that disorders are responses to adversity. Posted Aug 18, 2020 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/...ertain-mental-disorders-are-not-disorders-all What if mental disorders like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder aren’t mental disorders at all? In a compelling new paper, biological anthropologists call on the scientific community to rethink mental illness. With a thorough review of the evidence, they show good reasons to think of depression or PTSD as responses to adversity rather than chemical imbalances. And ADHD could be a way of functioning that evolved in an ancestral environment but doesn’t match the way we live today. Adaptive responses to adversity Mental disorders are routinely treated by medication under the medical model. So why are the anthropologists who wrote this study claiming that these disorders might not be medical at all? They point to a few key points. First, medical science has never been able to prove that anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are inherited conditions. Second, the study authors note that despite widespread and increasing use of antidepressants, rates of anxiety and depression do not seem to be improving. From 1990-2010 the global prevalence of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders held at 4.4% and 4%. At the same time, evidence has continued to show that antidepressants perform no better than placebo. Third, worldwide rates of these disorders remain stable at 1 in 14 people. Yet “in conflict‐affected countries, an estimated one in five people suffers from depression, PTSD, anxiety disorders, and other disorders,” they write. Taken together, the authors posit that anxiety, depression, and PTSD may be adaptive responses to adversity. “Defense systems are adaptations that reliably activate in fitness‐threatening situations in order to minimize fitness loss,” they write. It’s not hard to see how that could be true for anxiety; worry helps us avoid danger. But how can that be true for depression? They argue that the “psychic pain” of depression helps us “focus attention on adverse events... so as to mitigate the current adversity and avoid future such adversities.” If that sounds unlikely, then consider that neuroscientists have increasingly mapped these three disorders to branches of the threat detection system. Anxiety may be due to chronic activation of the fight or flight system. PTSD may occur when trauma triggers the freeze response which helps animals disconnect from pain before they die, and depression may be a chronic activation of that same freeze response. Labels matter Labels are something we internalize to define who we are and what we are capable of. All too often, labels limit us. And that’s why reconsidering how we label anxiety, depression or ADHD is important. Does someone have depression, a medical disorder of their brain, or are they having a depressed adaptive response to adversity? Adversity is something we can overcome, whereas a mental disorder is something to be managed. The labels imply very different possibilities. Consider how we label ADHD. A generation ago boys with ADHD were labeled as “bad boys” and were given penalties or detentions. Now we help kids with ADHD understand that they have a “learning difference.” Instead of detention, we try to provide support in a variety of modalities. When we do, the behavior problems often disappear. That label change to learning difference is vital because it gives space for kids with ADHD to be “good kids” and to succeed. Yet ADHD is still “attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.” In Finland, where substantial physical activity is part of the school day, rates of ADHD are also very low. Meanwhile, in the U.S. children are asked to sit still for the majority of the day. Elementary school students often get only 15-20 minutes of recess a day, a far cry from the 60-90 minutes their parents had. Coincidentally, ADHD rates in the U.S. have gone up over the last 15 years. ADHD is not a disorder, the study authors argue. Rather it is an evolutionary mismatch to the modern learning environment we have constructed. Edward Hagen, professor of evolutionary anthropology at Washington State University and co-author of the study, pointed out in a press release that “there is little in our evolutionary history that accounts for children sitting at desks quietly while watching a teacher do math equations at a board.” If ADHD is not a disorder, but a mismatch with a human environment, then suddenly it’s not a medical issue. It’s an issue for educational reform. And that is a compelling thought, given the evidence that kids’ focus and cognition are improved by physical activity. Still, we need to take this study with a grain of salt. There is a large body of research showing other biological factors when it comes to ADHD. For instance, there is evidencethat premature birth increases rates of ADHD later. Social reform or medical treatment? Study author Kristen Syme, a recent WSU Ph.D. graduate, compares treating anxiety, depression, or PTSD with antidepressants to medicating someone for a broken bone without setting the bone itself. She believes that these problems “look more like sociocultural phenomena, so the solution is not necessarily fixing a dysfunction in the person's brain but fixing dysfunctions in the social world." It’s a fair criticism of the way we treat mental illness. But the stated goal of the paper is not to suddenly change treatments, but to explore new ways of studying these problems. “Research on depression, anxiety, and PTSD, should put greater emphasis on mitigating conflict and adversity and less on manipulating brain chemistry.” But what about the fact that there is plenty of medical evidence for that brain chemistry? Consider a recent study done in Turku, Finland. Researchers showed that the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety are connected to changes in the brain's opioid system already in healthy individuals. Can we reconcile brain studies like this with the biological anthropologists' criticism of how we handle mental health? Actually we can. The changes in the brain associated with anxiety and depression are evident, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be understood as responses to adversity. Based on this, do we need to make changes in how we treat mental health? Yes and no. When it comes to what labels we use, a change is welcome. Mental health recovery in part depends on whether patients believe they can get better. Telling our patients that their symptoms may be tied to a healthy response to adversity could be very encouraging. It’s not news to doctors that mental health is impacted by adversity. In my own medical training, I was taught the biopsychosocial model, implying interconnected causes of these problems. But until social reform actually does remove social causes of suffering, physicians must continue to provide the standard of care to our patients. The history of medicine is a story of healers using the best treatments they had at the time until better ones arrive.
Oh 2020...for fucks sake.
Was just invited to give another lecture on Pain perception and Psychedelics with a dash of spirituality, lol. Very flattering to be sought out! Much love and enjoy! The Psychedelic Science of Pain Psychedelics and Health Research Initiative explores new territory in treating pain (a) A circular connectogram showing normal communication between distinct hubs. (b) Markedly increased crosstalk after psilocybin administration. (G. Petri, P. Expert, F. Turkheimer, R. Carhart-Harris, D. Nutt, P. J. Hellyer and F. Vaccarino (2014). Homological scaffolds of brain functional networks. J. R. Soc. Interface. 120140873) In the last few years, new research has demonstrated the powerful potential for classical psychedelics, especially psilocybin (the active compound in “magic mushrooms”), to treat a range of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety and addiction. In 2018, the FDA assigned psilocybin a Breakthrough Therapy Designation. In response, UC San Diego’s Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination organized a new collaboration with groups across campus, including the Center for Human Frontiers at the Qualcomm Institute and the Departments of Anesthesiology and Psychiatry, to launch the Psychedelics and Health Research Initiative (PHRI). Its mission is to study the potential of psilocybin and other related compounds to promote healing and help manage pain. While much of the new research on psychedelics shows its potentially high efficacy for treating psychological disorders, relatively little research has been done to demonstrate their uses for the treatment of chronic pain conditions. A recently published review paper by UC San Diego PHRI members Timothy Furnish, associate clinical professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine; Joel Castellanos, pain physician for UC San Diego Health and Adam Halberstadt, associate professor of psychiatry, among others, points to the potential for psychedelics to address chronic pain conditions. Since pain has both physical and affective/cognitive components, the PHRI’s preliminary findings indicate that psychedelics, alone or as part of multi-pronged treatment, can produce significant, meaningful and lasting reductions of chronic pain conditions such as cluster headache, complex regional pain disorder, phantom-limb pain, tinnitus and others. As a non-addictive alternative to opioids, psychedelics represent a revolutionary and much-needed new approach to the treatment of pain. “Neuropathic pain conditions such as phantom limb pain are often difficult to treat,” says Furnish. “The possibility that psychedelics could reorganize pain pathways in the brain holds out the promise of a much more long-lasting treatment than current medication can offer.” History of psychedelics research on campus Research on the classical psychedelics, which include LSD, DMT, mescaline and psilocybin, has a long history at UC San Diego. Mark Geyer, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences Emeritus and founding member of the PHRI, has conducted research on the behavioral and neurobiological effects of psychedelics for more than 40 years at UC San Diego. He also helped start the Heffter Research Institute in 1993, dedicated to renewing research into beneficial uses of psychedelics—research that had been cut off prematurely during the 1970s. Albert Lin recovering immediately after the amputation surgery that left him with debilitating phantom-limb pain. “The research pioneered by the Heffter group has already provided breakthroughs in our understanding of the neurobiology and therapeutic potential of psychedelics,” says Geyer. “It is clear that further such research will result in currently unimagined treatments for human illness and a deeper understanding of human nature.” Though the roots of this research go back decades at UC San Diego, the seeds of the PHRI began with a 2016 accident in the desert involving UC San Diego researcher Albert Yu-Min Lin. A Qualcomm Institute research scientist and National Geographic Explorer, Lin lost his lower leg in that accident. Afterwards, he experienced debilitating phantom-limb pain, the sensation of pain seeming to come from the missing limb. “After losing my leg,” says Lin, “I faced two immediate challenges. The first was rebuilding mobility, which could be done with prosthetics. The second was remapping my mind to let go of extreme pain that seemed to come from a body part that was no longer physically there. Luckily for me, the authority on the topic of phantom pain happened to be a UC San Diego faculty member, V.S. Ramachandran.” Pioneering method, neuroplasticity While Mirror Visual Feedback—the method pioneered by Ramachandran, distinguished professor of psychology and neurosciences, for treating phantom-limb pain—provided temporary relief, Lin observed that “when the mirror was removed the pain came rushing back, as if my mind just wouldn't let it go.” But psilocybin provided the profound relief he sought. A 2018 case study published in Neurocase, co-authored by Ramachandran, Chaipat Chunharas, Zeve Marcus and Furnish, documents Lin’s experience: a single session with psilocybin resulted in immediate, persistent and profound reduction in what had been debilitating post-trauma pain caused by an amputation. “Freeing myself of the pain gave me back my life,” says Lin, who is the director of the Center for Human Frontiers based at the Qualcomm Institute. But the use of psilocybin to treat phantom limb pain has not been researched in a controlled, rigorous way. Some studies in Japan in the 1970s used LSD with phantom-limb sufferers, with small but suggestive results. Albert Lin working with V.S. Ramachandran post-amputation to alleviate his phantom-limb pain. Recent studies have shown that exposure to psychedelic drugs promotes neuroplasticity. Based on those existing findings, psilocybin may be effective against phantom limb pain because it causes new functional brain connections and pathways to form in brain regions supporting body self-image and the experience of pain. On the other hand, it could be that the profound psychedelic experience facilitates a “restart mechanism” if you will, that modulates the feeling of pain, says Fadel Zeidan, PHRI member, associate director for research at the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness and assistant professor of anesthesiology. Mindfulness of pain management There is intriguing overlap with the research of Zeidan, who works to understand the effects of mindfulness meditation as a treatment for pain. His studies show that mindfulness reduces pain through multiple, unique brain processes that are distinct from placebo and other pain-relieving techniques. Recent research demonstrates that psychedelics produce states of mind and brain connectivity that are similar to those of experienced meditators, and that the two—psychedelics and mindfulness—are mutually supportive. Zeidan says that mindfulness meditation practice also promotes a “restart button” but one that you can press in a moment-to-moment fashion. Non-opioid treatments for pain conditions—including cluster headache, complex regional pain syndrome, phantom-limb pain, tinnitus and other forms of chronic pain—could mean radical improvements for the more than 100 million sufferers in the United States alone, as estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Future studies According to the research team, these studies will provide a better understanding of how psychedelics can be used to treat pain, the mechanisms of action by which they produce their effects and how these phenomena illuminate new aspects of the healthy functioning of the brain. Such advances will help guide how the healthcare system can adapt to best deliver these radically different modes of intervention, all in the context of UC San Diego’s world-class health and neuroscience research communities. Proposed Screening and Approach for Future Study of Psychedelics and Chronic Pain “Pain is a very tricky thing,” Lin says. “It can be entirely consuming to those who bear it. But my experience with pain opened a window into the power within the mind to do extraordinary things—to shift the perspective of pain, to potentially remap it away—and if that can help others it was all worth it.” PHRI fosters further novel basic and clinical research on the use of psychedelics for the treatment of pain and potentially other syndromes. The interdisciplinary team is currently planning the first pilot study of the potential effect of psilocybin on phantom-limb pain, to be followed by future clinical trials and brain imaging research. .
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