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Advance Praise for
DMT: The Spirit Molecule
"Strassman's important research contributes to a growing awareness that
we inhabit a multidimensional universe that is far more complex and inter-
esting than the one our scientific theories have shown us. It is of the utmost
importance that we face the implications of this discovery, for it has so
much to tell us about who we are and why we are here."
John Mack, author of
Abduction and Passport to the Cosmos
"The most extensive scientific study of the mental and perceptual effects of
a psychedelic drug since the 1960s. Strassman provides fascinating insight
into the world of psychiatric research as he seeks to understand these most
mysterious substances and their profound effects on human consciousness."
Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., author of
Ayahuasca: Consciousness and the Spirits of Nature
"This book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the mind,
philosophy, the nature of reality, and spirituality. The world's foremost ex-
pert on DMT has created a masterpiece of the genre, as he brilliantly leads
the reader through a series of startling revelations about the nature of the
universe, revealed behind the doorway once DMT turns the key."
Karl Jansen, M.D., Ph.D., author of
K. Ketamine: Dreams and Realities
"DMT: The Spirit Molecule points the way beyond the present impasse
of the reigning "drug abuse" paradigm. We owe a debt of gratitude to
Strassman for persevering in the face of bureaucratic obstacles to conduct
important research into the human pharmacology of DMT and elucidate it
for the general public, in both scientific and humanistic terms."
Jonathan Ott, author of
The Age of Entheogens and
Hallucinogenic Plants of North America
A Doctor's Revolutionary Research
into the Biology of Near-Death
and Mystical Experiences
Rick Strassman, М.D.
Park Street Press
Park Street Press
One Park Street
Rochester, Vermont 05767
Park Street Press is a division of Inner Traditions International
Copyright © 2001 by Rick J. Strassman, M.D.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or
by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any
information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
DMT : the spirit molecule : a doctor's revolutionary research into the biology
of near-death and mystical experiences / Rick Strassman.
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 0-89281-927-8 (alk. paper)
1. Dimethyltryptamine. 2. Pineal gland—Secretions. I. Title.
RM666.D564 S77 2000
Printed and bound in the United States
10 9 8 7 6 5 4
Text design and layout by Rachel Goldenberg
This book was typeset in Bodoni with Bodoni Open as the display typeface
To the volunteers, and all their relations
We do not possess imagination enough
to sense what we are missing.
Prologue: First Sessions 1
Part I: The Building Blocks
1 • Psychedelic Drugs: Science and Society 21
2 • What DMT Is 42
3 • The Pineal: Meet the Spirit Gland 56
4 • The Psychedelic Pineal 67
Part II: Conception and Birth
5 • 89-001 89
6 • Labyrinth 99
Part III: Set, Setting, and DMT
7 • Being a Volunteer 121
8 • Getting DMT 136
9 • Under the Influence 143
Part IV: The Sessions
10 • Introduction to the Case Reports 153
Ни Feeling and Thinking 156
12 • Unseen Worlds 176
13 • Contact Through the Veil: 1 185
14 • Contact Through the Veil: 2 202
15 • Death and Dying 220
16 • Mystical States 233
17 • Pain and Fear 247
Part V: Taking Pause
18 • If So, So What? 266
19 • Winding Down 278
20 • Stepping on Holy Toes 294
Part VI: What Could and Might Be
21 • DMT: The Spirit Molecule 310
22 • The Futures of Psychedelic Research 329
v^ountless colleagues, committees, and agencies helped with all stages
of this research. Several deserve special mention. The late Daniel X. Freed-
man, M.D., from UCLA's Department of Psychiatry, advocated for these
projects at all levels and was instrumental in my obtaining crucial early
funding. Staff at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S.
Drug Enforcement Administration were extraordinarily flexible and re-
sponsive to the unusual circumstances of this research. Clifford Quails,
Ph.D., the University of New Mexico biostatistician, spent endless hours,
days, and weeks crunching numbers at the Research Center, at his home,
and at mine. David Nichols, Ph.D., from Purdue University, made the
DMT, without which the research never would have occurred.
At every turn, the University of New Mexico School of Medicine pro-
vided academic, physical, and administrative support for my work. Walter
Winslow, M.D., chairman of the Department of Psychiatry, gave me great
latitude as one of his only clinical research scientists at the time. Samuel
Keith, M.D., continued with outstanding administrative and academic
assistance and counsel after Dr. Winslow retired. Alan Frank, M.D., chair
of the university's Human Research Ethics Committee, handled my re-
quests with consistency and evenhandedness.
To the UNM General Clinical Research Center I express my appre-
ciation for their decade of assistance in all my studies: melatonin, DMT,
xii • Acknowledgments
and psilocybin. Jonathan Lisansky, M.D., a UNM Psychiatry and Research
Center colleague, originally introduced me to the late Glenn Peake, M.D.,
Scientific Director of the GCRC. Together they enticed me to Albuquer-
que in 1984. Philip Eaton, M.D., effortlessly took over the reins of the
GCRC after Dr. Peake's sudden death, and barely blinked an eye when I
told him I had decided to study psychedelic drugs. David Schade, M.D.,
Joy McLeod, and Alberta Bland helped with me with skillful laboratory
support throughout the years. Lori Sloane of the Computing Center kept
all the machines running at top efficiency with what seemed to be amaz-
ing ease, and taught me to use programs that otherwise would have taken
me years to understand.
Many thanks to the inpatient and outpatient nursing staff, kitchen
personnel, and administrative staff, especially Kathy Legoza and Irene
Williams. Laura Berg, M.S.N, and Cindy Geist, R.N., provided heroic,
cheerful, and disciplined nursing support for all the studies. Katy Brazis,
R.N., also contributed her skills to the early psychiatric interviews.
A generous research grant from the Scottish Rite Foundation for
Schizophrenia Research helped establish the earliest phases of the DMT
project's scientific merit. Later, more substantial funding for the DMT
and psilocybin research came from the National Institute on Drug Abuse,
a division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.1
For the writing of this book, John Barlow and the Rexx Foundation, as
well as Andrew Stone, provided crucial financial kindling, while support
from the Barnhart Foundation later set the project blazing forth. Rick Doblin
at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies graciously and
generously administered the Stone and Barnhart support. Ned Naumes of
the Barnhart Foundation and Sylvia Thiessen and Carla Higdon at MAPS
seamlessly coordinated the movement in and out of grant monies.
Friends, colleagues, students, teachers, and mentors over the years have
contributed ideas and support to this project: Ralph Abraham, Debra Asis,
Alan Badiner, Kay Blacker, Jill and Lewis Carlino, Ram Dass, David
Deutsch, Norman Don, Betty Eisner, Dorothy and James Fadiman, Robert
Forte, Shefa Gold, Alex Grey, Charles Grob, Stan Grof, John Halpern, Diane
Haug, Mark Galanter, Mark Geyer, Chris Gillin, George Greer, Abram Hoffer,