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***See below for a complete topic breakdown.***

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You’ve probably heard that psychedelics are not safe for people with pre-existing psychiatric disorders, especially schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

This is partially because psychedelics destabilize the mind and can present us with experiences far beyond what the mind is typically expecting from the continuity of its reality. Not all minds can handle that destabilization, and not all minds can come back together after encounters with the Great Bizarre. People with pre-existing conditions being already on the edge, the chances of going over and not being able to come back again is a high likelihood.

—{Yes, there are valid debate and consideration for the potential benefit of psychedelics for people with psychiatric conditions, such as depression or anxiety, and even bipolar as well. However, these considerations are intricate nuances in navigating a scorching fire, [insert getting burn comment here].}—

Now, when it comes to bipolar, the warning is because a psychedelic experience can push people with that condition into an extreme depression or mania. Both of these situations present a significant risk to the person suffering through them; however, with mania, there is an added potential of entering into a delusional psychosis.

Delusional psychosis is a slippery term in the psychedelic world, especially since James Kent began his campaign to identify a vast portion of psychedelic culture as suffering from some form of it. But properly identifying it is a very delicate and intricate process, especially in psychedelic culture given how oblong its represented ontologies often are.  Of course, all those psychedelics theories of mind, reality, and spiritual dimensions filled with sentient intelligences might be valid considerations; however, they may also be expressions of delusional psychosis. The million-dollar question is, how can we tell the difference?

I often grapple with this question while investigating a range of perspectives for representation on the show. There are some seriously strange ideas in the psychedelic world. Some of which really push my limits of believability.

strange or extreme ideas are not necessarily psychosis, nor are they necessarily delusions (a component of psychosis); however, they can be.

The defining factor, roughly, is how they manifest in our lives and our emotional and psychological relationship to them. That factor, typically, is unable to be determined by the one in psychosis as their immersion into their personalized-reality-construct warps the very angle of their self-awareness; i.e., they are no longer able to differentiate objective-real from delusion as the psychosis makes their delusions feel congruent with reality’s continuity in general. This means it’s up to people around the ill person to help them.

So how do we know when someone just has wild ideas and when they are in a psychotic episode requiring intervention? Well, that’s a tough question with a range of variables to consider. According to Rachel Harris, in my interview with her on integrating ayahuasca experiences, it’s when the (potential) delusions those people are having become harmful or degrading of that person’s life, relationships, or safety. The next question is: how do we help them? Another delicate and intricate process, but one that in extreme cases often looks like involuntary admission to a psychiatric institution. Like many of you (and much of the psychedelic culture) I  remain critical of the paradigm of such institutions, but sometimes, this is the absolute best course of action to save a person from harm.

It was exactly this situation that happened to today’s guest, Shane Mauss.

Shane is a stand-up comedian with bipolar who was admitted to a psychiatric institution due to a manic episode that had developed into a delusional psychosis as a consequence of psychedelic use during the filming of a documentary on how positive psychedelics can be. [yes that is a very long sentence].

We have Shane is on the show to talk about the context that led up to his ayahuasca-induced psychosis, his time in a psychiatric institution, and why he still sees psychedelics as valuable tools for mental wellness in general, but comedy culture in particular.


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Episode Breakdown

  • A little bit about prohibition preventing the very medicine that would help heal the people tasked at propagating prohibition
  • Behind the scenes of his documentary Psychonautics: A Comic’s Exploration Of Psychedelics
  • How Shane Mauss’ psychosis influenced the final product of the documentary
  • How excessive mushroom use set him up to fall into psychosis with ayahuasca
  • Mental health issues in comedian culture and the potential of psychedelic to help
  • The ayahuasca trip that pushed him over the edge (this story continues from the trip through his return to his home, all the way into his psychosis)
  • What it was like to be admitted to and stuck in a psychiatric institution
  • The difference between wild ideas and delusions
  • How the care providers engaged his ideas during treatment
  • What type of support might have prevented his progression into psychosis
  • What happened with the ideas he was having during his psychosis after he recovered
  • Shane’s relationship to psychedelics now

Relevant Links

ShaneMauss.com

This is the catalog of all things Shane Mauss, including his live show Stand-Up Science and his podcast Here We Are.

PSYCHONAUTICS: A COMIC’S EXPLORATION OF PSYCHEDELICS

This is the documentary we spoke about during the podcast. Lot’s of different platforms to watch it on!

A NIGHT OF PSYCHEDELIC COMEDY WITH SHANE MAUSS AND ADAM STRAUSS

Shane will be performing as a part of the extended roster of events surrounding the Breaking Convention conference in London, England this August. Go check him out! Additionally, I will also be at Breaking Convention and other places across the UK in August, so come check me out too!

 


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2 Comments

  1. As a therapist and founder of the Psychedelic Psychotherapy Forum I see a lot of this type of spiritual emergency precipitated by the use of entheogens. I also have vast personal experience navigating these sometimes terrifying domains. The importance of supportive and understanding community cannot be overstated. If a safe container is provided to voyage through macro-dimensional spaces can be created instead of the experience being interrupted by institutionalization and anti-psychotic medication one can successfully navigate the transitions through what are essentially bardo chambers. It’s important to keep in mind that although these chambers are eternal they are not going to last forever. For more on my own experience which in many ways mirrors Shane’s go here: https://www.psychedelicpsychotherapy.ca/pearls-and-perils-article

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