Filmmaker Statement:

This project started way back in 2011 while I was a student at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. At the time, I heard about a study using psilocybin to ease existential distress among people who were diagnosed with cancer and struggling with facing the end of life. As a self-taught student of the 1960s, reader of Timothy Leary, and fan of the Grateful Dead I was both mystified and intrigued by this institutional use of psychedelics.

From there I began the process of translating this vast and misunderstood story to the screen. I was fascinated to learn that before the 1960s counterculture, LSD and psilocybin were used by psychiatrists in controlled research settings and were considered a breakthrough discovery in the field. This promising research was eventually shut down and its history erased from medical school textbooks during the ensuing War on Drugs.

Today we are in the so-called “psychedelic renaissance,” much of which gained momentum while I was making this film. It was a far greater undertaking than I ever could’ve imagined, but all of these years later I’m thrilled to finally share it with the world, which now seems poised to listen. Peruse the website to learn more and find out how we can partner in bringing this story to your community, members, or students.

Synopsis:

PSYCHEDELIA​ ​is an hour-long documentary film about psychedelic drugs and their ability to induce mystical and religious experiences. The film chronicles their use in controlled research studies prior to the cultural upheaval of the 1960s, when LSD was regarded as a promising medical breakthrough, as well as their recent re-emergence in psychiatry.

Featuring leading experts in the field of psychedelic research, the film tells the story of medical professionals who have re-introduced these compounds into a legal and growing field of study. First-person accounts from a study on end-of-life anxiety explore the profound, life-altering insights psychedelics induce in participants and what these insights might mean for society at large.

Experts Featured in the Film:

The film features some of the leading experts in the field of psychedelic research, as well as historians and authors to provide historical context.

Stephen Ross, MD

NYU School of Medicine

Jeffrey Guss, MD

NYU School of Medicine

Anthony Bossis, PhD

NYU School of Medicine

Matthew Johnson, PhD

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Charles S. Grob

Professor of Psychology, UCLA

Julie Holland, MD

Psychiatrist

Rick Doblin, PhD

Founder of MAPS

Katherine MacLean, PhD

Research Scientist

Herbert Kleber, MD

Psychiatrist

Robert Cohen

New York University

Ingmar Gorman, MD

Psychologist

Study Participants:

The following participants of the NYU Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Study were generous enough to share their powerful stories in the film.

Dinah Bazer

Gale Cowan

Rob Sweeney

Nick Fernandez

Estalyn Walcoff

ATTEND A VIRTUAL SCREENING EVENT

PSYCHEDELIA: The History and Science of Mystical Experience​ is an award-winning film that is now available as part of a grassroots virtual screening campaign.

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