Responsibility of the Gift
Reflections on this year's Horizons conference
I just got back from the 15th annual Horizons conference in New York where I had the joy and honor to host and moderate the Psychedelic Business Forum.
As I’ve been reflecting on the field in preparation for and integration of the conference, I’d like to briefly share one of the ideas with you today that I spoke to the audience about during my opening remarks.
It’s surrounding the concept of the “responsibility of the gift”.
This is especially relevant if you’ve already had psychedelic experiences and have noticed a change in your being as a result of them.
(I’m also sharing some brief takeaways from Horizons below.)
How Our Personal Journeys Fuel Our Lives
Bringing legal, safe, effective, affordable, and equitable psychedelic therapies into the world will be quite the endeavor. Noone’s ever done it before.
However, there’s something unique about the psychedelic community, which is the fact that so many people are involved in the space because of their personal journeys.
Many of us have dedicated ourselves because we have personally received the ineffable wisdom these medicines have to offer.
And, as indigenous wisdom traditions teach, as recipients of these gifts, we now also have the responsibility of the gift.
The word responsibility quite literally means response-ability.
As a result of our experiences, we are better able to respond to the challenges of the world around us. No matter if those relate to extractive capitalism or a struggling loved one, or a stranger. It is our duty and capacity to offer the fruits of our labor to those places in the world around us that may benefit from them.
In Toni Morrison’s words:
“The purpose of freedom is to free someone else.” - Toni Morrison
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Five takeaways from this year’s Horizons conference
Embedding psychedelic therapy into the deeply flawed US healthcare system will be imperfect and challenging but deeply necessary. There’s great opportunity to do things differently, and I was impressed to meet many of the heart-led leaders and community members that are striving to do just that.
There’s a place for both medical psychedelic therapy and decriminalized personal and sacramental use. The two are not in conflict with each other, especially in the near term. Both paths will provide benefits for different groups and individuals.
It seems that for whichever indication researchers study psychedelics, they get promising results. Whether “classical” conditions such as depression, PTSD, or addiction, or emerging fields such as eating disorders, cluster headaches, OCD, and others - the potential seems boundless.
My favorite talk was by psychiatrist Ben Sessa, who made the compelling prediction that in 10 to 15 years, we will no longer have the psychiatric diagnoses we have now, but instead will separate between “trauma-based illness” and neurodegenerative disorders. “We are all traumatized children pretending to be adults”, one of the other speakers, Sanjay Singhal, said.
Public education is becoming a bigger topic, especially for philanthropists in the field, such as aforementioned Singhal, who founded of audiobooks.com and now runs the Nikean Foundation. Nikeans has been funding psychedelic research for eating disorders and several other treatments for the past few years. Now, they just launched The Psychedelic Storytelling Project to share individual stories, which, as you can imagine, I was so hyped to see. Check it out if you’re curious to hear other people’s stories or perhaps even share your own.
If you’re interested in hearing more about any of these topics, please let me know. I may deep dive into select topics more deliberately as I continue to digest the weekend.
That’s it this week, stay tuned for a more expansive article once I’m back in my routine (and recovered from what seems to not be Covid but very much feels like it).