S4-EP17: Dr. Bree Johnston on Psychedelic Therapy to Ease Fear of Death
Debbie talks with geriatrician and palliative care physician Dr. Bree Johnston about psychedelic therapy and its uses and benefits for older adults.
Today, Debbie talks with Dr. Bree Johnston, a geriatrician and a palliative care physician who is also certified in psychedelic therapies.
In case you haven’t noticed, the topic of psychedelic therapy has gone mainstream in the past several years. Taking a guided psilocybin trip is now viewed as a highly effective way to ease fear of dying. But it’s complicated. It took Debbie several months to find just the right person to interview about the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics.
Her research led her to Dr. Bree Johnston who is perfectly credentialed for this topic as well as being a notably clear and wise teacher for [B]OLDER podcast listeners. She’s been a practicing physician for 35 years and recently became certified in Psychedelic Therapies and Research through the California Institute of Integral Studies.
They talk about:
– The problem of legality (she predicts psilocybin therapy will be legal in a few years)
– Why psychedelic therapy is especially useful for older, dying patients
– Her own psychonaut experiences
– The dissolution of “self” and becoming part of a whole (a common experience on a psychedelic trip)
– The current studies being done at Johns Hopkins and NYU
– And her evaluation of which psychedelic therapies are currently most useful: psilocybin, MDMA (aka ecstasy), ketamine (not illegal but results can vary widely).
They also explore the complexity that comes with medicalizing psychedelics as well as the ethics surrounding legalization. This is a highly informative conversation with a knowledgeable physician.
Mentioned in this episode or useful:
- Dr. Bree Johnston on LinkedIn
- The Trip Treatment by Michael Pollan (The New Yorker; February 5, 2015)
- How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan (Penguin Press; 2018)
- The Pied Piper of Psychedelic Toads by Kimon de Greef (The New Yorker; March 21, 2022)
- Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics
- Psychedelic Therapy Training Certificate | California Institute of Integral Studies
- The Microdose Newsletter
- New York Magazine Investigative Podcast: Cover Story: Power Trip
- Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research
- Center for Psychedelic Medicine | NYU
- A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life by Ayelet Waldman (Knopf; 2017)
- Brian Anderson – Studies at UCSF
- Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences by William Richards (Columbia University Press; 2015)
- Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies – MAPS
- MAPS Newsletter
- Handbook of Medical Hallucinogens by Charles Grob and Jim Grigsby (The Guilford Press; 2021)
Note from Debbie
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Thanks to our media partners
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