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Ernesto Londoño

The Peril and Promise of Medicinal Psychedelics

17 mins
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    The promise of psychedelics

    Robert walked into an unfamiliar house in Austin, Texas. 

    He was there for a three-day session of psychedelic therapy led by a woman named Whitney, who referred to herself as a “sorceress of life.” 

    Robert didn’t quite know what to expect, but he was prepared to try something new.

    He was an army veteran, and for years, he had battled severe depression and suicidal thoughts. He’d tried antidepressants, but they left him feeling numb, like a zombie.

    After a suicide attempt and a period in a psychiatric ward, Robert realized that he’d lost faith in mainstream health care. He decided to explore psychedelic therapy as a last resort.

    Psychedelic therapy, which uses substances like ayahuasca and ketamine, is gaining popularity in the United States. And it’s no wonder, given the country’s worsening mental health crisis. 

    In 2022, a poll revealed that 24 percent of Americans rated their mental health as fair or poor – a record high. And the year 2021 saw more than 48,000 suicides in the US. There was a significant increase among younger people, pushing the national suicide rate close to an all-time high.

    So, as more Americans struggle with their mental health and become disillusioned with traditional health care, individuals like Robert seek help from psychedelic practitioners like Whitney. 

    Whitney herself had a troubled past with drug addiction, including crack cocaine and multiple stints in rehab. Her turning point came when she discovered psychedelics. Smoking bufo, a substance derived from toad venom, led to a profound realization about her identity and purpose.

    Now, Whitney conducts spiritual retreats involving psychedelic drugs despite the risk of felony charges in the US. She believes her work is vital, helping people like Robert find hope and healing.

    A typical session under Whitney’s guidance begins with patients inhaling a tobacco snuff called rapé, which induces an intense rush. This is followed by eye drops containing the sananga plant, and then small burns on the forearm to administer kambo, a form of toad venom. 

    It’s not a pleasant experience. Each participant is given a bucket for vomiting.

    As Robert prepared for his first session of psychedelic therapy, he was observed by the journalist Ernesto Londoño.

    Years ago, Londoño would have been deeply disturbed by such a scene. But as he looked around the room, he recognized the weary but hopeful expressions on the participants’ faces. 

    Not long ago, Londoño himself had been in their shoes, ready to take a leap of faith in search of healing.

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    What is Trippy about?

    Trippy (2024) explores therapeutic uses of the psychedelic drug ayahuasca, and the rise of retreats that promise life-changing experiences. Weaving together personal anecdotes and science-based research, it begs the question: Is ayahuasca worth the cost, and the risk?

    Trippy Review

    Trippy (2021) delves into the fascinating history and science behind psychedelic drugs, offering a fresh perspective on their potential benefits and risks. Here's why this book is a captivating read:

    • Explores myth-busting research findings and personal accounts, challenging common misconceptions about psychedelics.
    • Discusses revolutionary psychiatric treatments and the potential of psychedelics to transform mental healthcare approaches.
    • Engages readers with thought-provoking ethical dilemmas, sparking conversations on personal freedom, consciousness, and healing.

    Who should read Trippy?

    • Anyone interested in ayahuasca
    • People who have struggled with their mental health
    • Open-minded skeptics

    About the Author

    Ernesto Londoño is a national correspondent at the New York Times, where he has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; the Arab Spring; and served on the editorial board. Londoño was previously the newspaper’s bureau chief in Brazil.

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    Trippy FAQs 

    What is the main message of Trippy?

    Trippy explores the impact of psychedelics on mental health and personal growth.

    How long does it take to read Trippy?

    Trippy can be read in a few hours, while the Blinkist summary takes just around 15 minutes.

    Is Trippy a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Trippy offers valuable insights into the potential benefits and risks of using psychedelics for therapeutic purposes.

    Who is the author of Trippy?

    The author of Trippy is Ernesto Londoño.

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