Rick Strassman, M.D.
“Old Testament Prophecy – A Western Model of the Psychedelic Experience”
Our clinical research with the naturally-occurring human psychedelic, DMT (N,N-dimethyltryptamine) sought to understand the relationship between the psychopharmacology of DMT and spiritual experience. Eastern religious systems, particularly Buddhist, provided the spiritual model which I, and previous investigators, believed would be most relevant to our research. However, unitive experiences of ego dissolution typical of enlightenment experiences were quite rare. Rather, volunteers actively related to what appeared to be autonomous, external alternative realties, while firmly maintaining a sense of personal identity. Old Testament descriptions of prophetic experience are replete with psychedelic content, and comport more closely with the DMT volunteers’ reports than a Buddhist model of enlightenment. This finding provides support for utilizing Old Testament prophetic literature as an alternative, Western model by which to understand and integrate contemporary psychedelic experience. It also suggests a means by which students of the Old Testament may access the state of consciousness out of which emerged prophetic Old Testament text.
Rick Strassman MD received his undergraduate training at Pomona College and Stanford University. He obtained his medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, general psychiatry training at UC Davis in Sacramento, and a clinical psychopharmacology fellowship at UC San Diego. Joining the Department of Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 1984, he led a research project that established the first known function of the pineal hormone melatonin in humans. In 1990, Dr. Strassman began the first new human psychedelic drug research in a generation, studying the effects of DMT, or N,N-dimethyltryptamine. After finishing this project in 1995, he left UNM and has worked in various clinical practice settings. He has written DMT – The Spirit Molecule, and co-authored Inner Paths to Outer Space. He is currently president and co-founder of the Cottonwood Research Foundation, and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at UNM.