cover image Psychedelic Revival: Toward a New Paradigm of Healing

Psychedelic Revival: Toward a New Paradigm of Healing

Sean Lawlor. Sounds True, $21.99 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-1-68364-954-0

Therapist Lawlor debuts with a free-wheeling manifesto on the past, present, and future of “psychedelic healing.” He traces the history of psilocybin, ayahuasca, and other psychedelic compounds from Indigenous healing ceremonies starting around 3000 BCE, to their current “revival” by Western scientists and doctors whose research has indicated such potential benefits as reduced anxiety, amplified creativity, and spiritual uplift (users of DMT reliably encounter otherworldly beings, and ayahuasca trips often turn up “dark spirits”). Lawlor wisely refrains from overselling the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics, noting that users shouldn’t envision the drugs as a “magical cure-all” and that they must actively engage in the “healing process.” Unfortunately, the narrative consists of a dizzying range of topics and tonal registers, from the clinical (“High LSD doses facilitate regression into earlier, traumatized states, opening the opportunity for compassionate contact with repressed material to meet the unmet needs at the core of the wound”) to the philosophical (“Separation of psychedelic use and intentional rituals is endemic of capitalism’s itemization of reality”). Despite those rough edges, Lawlor’s case for psychedelic therapy offers plenty of captivating insights. For readers curious about the topic, it’s worth a look. (June)