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Transcendent Experience and the Psychedelic Renaissance: A Conversation with the Co-Founders of the Emory Center for Psychedelics and Spirituality, Part 1

Anyone interested in mental health knows about the so-called psychedelic renaissance that has been gathering steam for the last half-decade. Compounds such as LSD and psilocybin lauded for their mind-expanding potential in the 60s, and then demonized for a generation, have returned to the scene with a vengeance, fueled by an increasing number of studies showing the remarkable therapeutic potential of these previously stigmatized substances.

While this psychedelic renaissance has been garnering all the headlines, a complimentary and far quieter revolution has also been occurring in medicine, which is the recognition of the importance of spirituality for health and disease. Along with a network of collaborators, the Department of Spiritual Health at Emory Healthcare has played a leadership role in this quieter revolution, training chaplains to implement evidence-based compassion-based practices for both patients and the clinicians who care for them.

This podcast explores a marriage between these two revolutions in the form of the newly created Emory Center for Psychedelics and Spirituality or the ECPS for short. Join host Dr. Charles Raison for a lively discussion with Boadie Dunlop, MD and George Grant, MDiv, PhD, co-founders of the ECPS. We hear how the center reflects a fully collaborative effort between perspectives often seen as separate or even conflictual: biomedical psychiatry and spiritual health. Drs. Dunlop and Grant take a deep dive into the many implications of taking the spiritual effects of psychedelics seriously. Among the many topics covered in this podcast, they discuss the role of spiritual experience in the long-term therapeutic benefits of psilocybin, how spiritual experience differentiates psychedelics from standard antidepressants, and how the risk of harm from psychedelic treatment may be increased if the spirituality-related effects of these drugs are not taken seriously.

This episode is Part 1 in a two-part series.

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