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DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences Paperback – December 1, 2000
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"This is probably the most thorough book on the psychedelic, DMT--its history, chemistry, uses (legal and illegal), and its effects. This is a very compelling, thoughtful book, written by a scrupulous scientist with the soul of a meditator." (The Book Reader, Spring/Summer 2002)
"The account of the project is an excellent inside view of human drug studies, especially those with psychedelics." (Paul Von Ward, The AHP Perspective, June/July 2002)
"This book is a highly readable, intriguing, provocative description of Rick Strassman's theories and research concerning the effects of DMT." (Alissa Hirshfeld-Flores, M.A., LMFT, The American Journal of Psychiatry, August 2002)
"Rick Strassman's experimentation with the psychoactive substance DMT is taking up where Leary's 1950/60's LSD experiments stopped." (Rev. Dr. S. D'Montford, New Dawn, Jan-Feb 2006)
"[Strassman's] account, written more for the layman than the specialist, is ground-breaking, and raises the interesting question as to what is truly a psychedelic experience." (Peter Fenwick, The Scientific and Medical Network, Summer 2007)
"Near-death experiences. Alien abductions. Lucid dreams. Even gods and goddesses. Try DMT for an explanation and it all holds together. It's brain chemistry. It's neuropharmacology. It's quite possibly other realms. Whatever it is, it's the new frontier, a closer examination of consciousness, and it's very, very exciting!" (betaphilings.com, Dec 2008)
"[Strassman] is a gifted writer and makes scientific jargon easy to read. The book gives very interesting examples of what the volunteers envisioned and how they felt throughout the experiences. . . . It is important for us as a society to look at legal, controlled, and supervised experimentation with psychoactive drugs with open minds, and with eventual scientific benefit in mind." (Levi Cox, FLC Law and Society Science & Metaphysics Blog, Feb 2009)
"Fascinating stuff! If this kind of thing interests you then pick up this book today." (Loretta Nall, blog by former Alabama Gubernatorial Candidate, June 2009)
"In the end, I felt the most important element of the book was the contextualization of the questions most important in psychedelic research. Strassman keenly recognizes and extrapolates the areas that appear to be most vital in the further study and theory of psychedelics." (The Psychedelic Press UK, Sept 2009)
"Strassman's important research contributes to a growing awareness that we inhabit a multi-dimensional universe." (John Mack, MD Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, author of Abduction and Passport to t)
“Highly readable, intriguing, provocative. . . . [An] intellectually courageous book. . . . Will be of great use both to researchers and clinicians, as well as to laypeople.” (American Journal of Psychiatry, 2002)
“A dazzling journey through psychedelic drug experimentation and a tantalizing peek into a new model of how the brain and mind work. Strassman’s research points toward a physiological basis for spirit and its interaction with the human body; his data suggests that our brain chemistry allows us access to other realms of existence just when we need it most, and his story recounts both the dangers and promises of entering this brave new world.” (Bruce Greyson, Editor, Journal of Near-Death Studies)
"Fascinating and provocative. A remarkable exploration of the boundaries of science and consciousness itself." (Rupert Sheldrake, author of The Presence of the Past)
"Rick Strassman's pioneering research work with DMT, a natural psychedelic drug used by Amazonian Indians, raises fascinating questions about the neurochemical basis of experience and the feasibility of conducting human research with mind-altering drugs in a university medical center. Truly adventurous reading!" (Andrew Weil, M.D., author of Spontaneous Healing)
"This book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the mind, philosophy, the nature of reality, and spirituality." (Karl Jansen, M.D., Ph.D.)
"Strassman raises vital questions about the origin of spiritual experiences and the nature of consciousness." (Larry Dossey MD, author of Reinventing Medicine, and Healing Words; Executive Editor, Alternative Th)
"DMT: The Spirit Molecule points the way beyond the present impasse of the reigning 'drug abuse' paradigm." (Jonathan Ott, author of The Age of Entheogens and Hallucinogenic Plants of North America)
"The most extensive scientific study of the mental and perceptual effects of a psychedelic drug since the 1960s." (Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., author of Ayahuasca: Consciousness and the Spirits of Nature)
"DMT: The Spirit Molecule is a fascinating journey into the research of psychedelics. . . . The questions and possible explanations about the endogenous presence of DMT that he raises not only enlarge the discussion about psychedelics but also expand our understanding of the nature of consciousness." (Jule Klotter, Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients - July, 2001)
"This book will be of profound interest to . . . anyone with a deep interest in the study of consciousness, visionary states and/or psycho-pharmacology." (J. P. Harpignies, Lapis)
"Strassman's psychonauts regularly found themselves hurtled into alien laboratories, high-tech nurseries, and Day-Glo hieroglyphic hypercubes." (Erik Davis, The Village Voice)
"DMT: the Spirit Molecule is an enriching journey into one scientist's courageous attempt to solve a bit more of the brain/mind/spirit mystery at the center of human existence." (Vicki Ecker, UFO Magazine, December-January 2002)
"What you will find is a thoughtful, well-written report about another of life's mysteries." (James Dekorne, Fortean Times, November 2001)
"Strassman's research was an important step, one that will potentially illuminate the path for future researchers and volunteers alike, and this book is a great contribution to the ongoing dialogue surrounding psychedelics." (Scotto, Trip, Fall 2001)
From the Back Cover
PSYCHOLOGY / MYSTICISM
“Highly readable, intriguing, provocative. . . . [An] intellectually courageous book. . . . Will be of great use both to researchers and clinicians, as well as to laypeople.”
--American Journal of Psychiatry, 2002
“Rick Strassman’s pioneering research raises fascinating questions about the neurochemical basis of experience and the feasibility of conducting human research with mind- altering drugs in a university medical center. Truly adventurous reading!”
--Andrew Weil, author of Spontaneous Healing
“Fascinating and provocative. A remarkable exploration of the boundaries of science and consciousness itself.”
--Rupert Sheldrake, author of The Presence of the Past
“A dazzling journey through psychedelic drug experimentation and a tantalizing peek into a new model of how the brain and mind work. Strassman’s research points toward a physiological basis for spirit and its interaction with the human body; his data suggests that our brain chemistry allows us access to other realms of existence just when we need it most, and his story recounts both the dangers and promises of entering this brave new world.”
--Bruce Greyson, Editor, Journal of Near-Death Studies
From 1990 to 1995 Dr. Rick Strassman conducted DEA-approved clinical research at the University of New Mexico in which he injected sixty volunteers with DMT, one of the most powerful psychedelics known. His detailed account of those sessions is an extraordinarily riveting inquiry into the nature of the human mind and the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. DMT, a plant-derived chemical that is also manufactured by the human brain, consistently produced near-death and mystical experiences. Many volunteers reported convincing encounters with intelligent nonhuman presences, especially “aliens.” Nearly all felt that the sessions were among the most profound experiences of their lives.
Strassman’s research connects DMT with the pineal gland, considered by Hindus to be the site of the seventh chakra and by René Descartes to be the seat of the soul. DMT: The Spirit Molecule makes the bold case that DMT, naturally released by the pineal gland, facilitates the soul’s movement in and out of the body and is an integral part of the birth and death experiences, as well as the highest states of meditation and even sexual transcendence. Strassman also believes that alien abduction experiences are brought on by accidental releases of DMT. If used wisely, DMT could trigger a period of remarkable progress in the scientific exploration of the most mystical regions of the human mind and soul.
RICK STRASSMAN, M.D., is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.
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Top Customer Reviews
Dr. Strassman had me laughing with (or maybe "at") him during much of the book as you can feel first his surprise and then his exhaustion at the turn of events during his case studies. One can envision him reaching for a bottle of liquor as he has to listen to another "being encounter" and then talk to his subjects as if they were real.
The case studies are [of course] awe inspiring and makes one ponder "what really is happening"? Why has DMT been placed on this planet in so many plants and species? What purpose does DMT serve if it does naturally occur in our brain/bodies (as well as countless plants)?
The author's attempts to connect parallel universe, interplanetary travel, and dark matter to DMT at first seem so far fetched (and perhaps dated now), it almost made me stop reading; however, after absorbing it a while, and knowing humans have used these drugs to channel the "spirit plane" for thousands of years, perhaps it's not so far fetched after all.
The biggest upset was Dr. Strassman "giving up" on his psychedelic research after being delivered some blows he may have predicted after seeing the early psychedelic "pioneers" suffer similar fates in their respective communities.
Highly recommended reading...
Strassman seemed to undergo a change of heart during the studies. He started with a scientific outlook, which is not surprising. He is a psychiatrist. Toward the end, he began to see that he was in a realm he could not really understand. That is because entheogens have the capacity to alter our reality in momentous ways. They are beyond our science, and they can do things we cannot fathom. Strassman was in over his head.
As my old daddy used to say: It is like trying to explain the workings of the internal combustion engine to a dog.
The book has one huge problem: It is in sore need of an editor's red pencil. Almost the first half is devoted in excruciating detail to the intricacies of obtaining official permission to do this type of research. This book, literally, should be about half its length.
Start reading about halfway through. It gets interesting.
DMT or di-methyl-trptamine is produced by many organisms and is found abundantly in plants and animal tissue. In humans it is believed that it is produced in the tiny pineal gland, which is situated deep within the brain. Its location in the brain corresponds with Eastern Ayurvedic traditions of the highest "chakra". In reptiles, the pineal is a light sensitive organ, and though this function has been lost in humans, it has been referred to as the "third eye". Descartes called it the "seat of the soul", and in modern times it has been a focal point of consciousness research.
Though the academic purpose for the research at the University of New Mexico from 1990 to 1995 was to find the purpose and function of "endogenous" (produced in the body) DMT, as well as its relationship to psychosis, it was Strassman's emersion in the teaching of Buddhism that was his inspiration throughout. Ironically, the findings of his research undermined many of his beliefs and left him alienated from the Buddhist community.
Many of his research subjects were experienced psychedelic users, but they were unprepared for the intensity of DMT. One volunteer described his acute ten minute voyage into another dimension as being hit by a "nuclear cannon." While LSD allows the user a self-guided trip, the DMT experience has its own agenda, stripping the subject of any goals, expectations, and ego. As Stassman said, "DMT as the true spirit molecule, gave the volunteers the trip they needed, rather than the trip they wanted."
But it wasn't only the volunteers of the experiments that were shocked. Strassman was completely unprepared for his subjects' reports of contact with alien beings, reptiles, and other strange entities. In other cases, they described out-of-body experiences, going through tunnels of light, and meeting relatives, spirits, and angels. Strassman soon realized that these reports were very similar to the modern cultural phenomena of alien abductions and near death experiences (NDE)--neither of which were familiar to him prior to his research project.
He theorized that these two phenomena might be caused by excess releases of endogenous DMT from the pineal gland under conditons of stess, such as child birth or severe trauma, causing an NDE. Similarly, a close cousin of DMT, namely melatonin and perhaps DMT itself, is released during the nighttime hours. This, Strassman thought, could give rise to the alien abduction experience, which most often happens in the early morning hours.
Near death experiences have often been used to support religious teachings. Perhaps the reverse should be considered. Religion was invented to explain the strange phenomena experienced due to an excess release of DMT in the body.
Because of the intense reality of the DMT experience, and the volunteers' rejection of psychological, or biological explanations for their journey, Strassman was forced to consider an even more intriguing explanation. Perhaps, DMT does not cause hallucinogenic experiences, but rather, allows our brain to sense different forms of existing reality. The information we receive from the world is limited by our five senses. It is possible that DMT allows us to sense other dimensions and other realities.
In the end the rigors and stresses of the study took a huge toll on Strassman costing him his job and alienation from the Buddhist communtiy. Even though many of the monks, had entered the monistary as a result of the influence of LSD use, their rise to elected power left them unable to support Strassman's research. AS Strassman stated, "Holiness won out over truth."
Rich Strassman's writing style makes this book extremely readable, and the DMT subjects' reports and anecdotal stories make the book difficult to put down. This book warrants a "5 star" rating. I highly recommend DMT the Spirit Molecule.
This review by David Kreiter, Author of "Quantum Reality: A New Philosophical Perspective."