In my first post for this six-part series of commentaries, I reflected on the start of the “Psychedelic Pasts, Presents, and Futures” Borghesi-Mellon workshop when faculty, students, and community members gathered in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to discuss the importance of transdisciplinarity in psychedelic research and education. In this final post of the series, I return to transdisciplinarity after a semester of events, including a second discussion about transdisciplinarity on the other side of UW-Madison’s campus in the brutalist, concrete Helen C. White Hall. One of the aims of the organizers—Dr. Lucas Richert, Amanda Pratt, and myself–for this workshop was to foster conversations about what humanities and social sciences perspectives bring to psychedelic studies, particularly in relation to the role of transdisciplinarity at the new Transdisciplinary Center for Research on Psychoactive Substances (TCRPS) at UW-Madison.
Timothy Leary used the phrase “set and setting” to describe the way that one’s mindset and physical setting impacts their psychedelic experience. In a recent talk titled “Beyond Set and Setting: Cultivating Mosaics of Support,” Kwasi Adusei, DNP, PMHNP-BC, clarified that set and setting refer to the extra-pharmacological influences on psychedelic experiences, including the “color palette of set” (i.e. internal elements like mood, beliefs, and attitudes) and the “crucible of setting” (i.e external elements like music, space, and people). Adusei ultimately advocated for the addition of a “mosaic of support”–meaning the collection of factors that aid in integrating a psychedelic experience–to set and setting in order to increase the benefits and reduce the risks of psychedelics.
Adusei came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to give this talk for the next installment of the “Psychedelic, Pasts, Presents and Futures” Borghesi-Mellon workshop. In his work as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapist, and co-founder of the Psychedelic Society of Western New York, Adusei hopes to shift the stigma around psychedelics and demonstrate that psychedelics can help people heal and remain productive members of society. The aim of such work, in Adusei’s view, is to empower people to do this work within their own communities by providing numerous resources that support them in this project.
Editor’s Note: Gabriel Lake Carter continues his commentary on a series of Borghesi-Mellon workshops titled ‘Psychedelic Pasts, Presents and Futures‘, funded by UW-Madison’s Center for Humanities. The second of these, below, reflects on discussions that took place during the ‘Psychedelic Baselines’ roundtable. Points’ Pharmaceutical Inequalities feature is funded by the Holtz Center and the Evjue Foundation.
What are the implications of the rampant media coverage, public awareness, and hype occurring about psychedelics? How is it possible to address the medical needs of people who want psychedelic therapy given the systemic impediments that deny access to medications? What is the most ethical way to promote psychedelics when they remain criminalized? How can current biomedical research be operationalized to help increase access to psychedelics for those in most need? During a recent panel for the “Psychedelic Pasts, Presents, and Futures” Borghesi-Mellon workshop at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, audience members raised these questions to the panel. The aim of the panel was to offer an overview on the current state of psychedelics in order to set a baseline for further discussions. In my reflections on the event, the panel and the subsequent discussion demonstrated a distinct need for transdisciplinary research and education on psychedelics, as well as more critical discussions about the best ways to improve access to psychedelics for those most in need.