Jungle Medicine: A Cautionary Tale About Ayahuasca – HPP 30

Keith Kurlander, MA, LPC

Keith Kurlander reveals his personal story about drinking the psychedelic Ayahuasca in Ayahuasca churches in the US and abroad. He explores why the use of this medicine is gaining traction across the world, but also the cautions of where things can go wrong. Keith will describe how this “medicine” potentiates both healing and illness in the individual user through the mechanisms of presence and dissociation.

This is the second episode on the use of Ayahuasca. As a psychedelic, Ayahuasca use is spreading rapidly, and, therefore as clinicians it is important to have a basic understanding of its implications. The concept of presence and dissociation is often overlooked when discussing the use of psychedelics. One way in which psychedelics act is by dissociating the user from their baseline associations with reality. In this manner, dissociation can expose the user to aspects of their subconscious that are normally obscure.

However, this is a cautionary tale. Dissociation is a powerful mechanism in the brain. One of its main biological functions is psychic protection. In this episode, Keith will explore the possible protective aspects that occur through psychedelic dissociation on Ayahuasca and why it’s so important to integrate any psychedelic experience fully. Any psychedelic experience that hasn’t integrated runs the risk of deeply fragmenting the psyche.

Show Notes:

What is Ayahuasca? [3:30]

The practical benefits of Ayahuasca in Ayahuasca churches [7:30]

The devastating personal experience when I consumed Ayahuasca [11:15]

How is Ayahuasca similar to hypnotic absorption [19:00]

The overlap of psychedelics and PTSD symptoms [23:00]

The positive mechanism of dissociation [25:30]

Fictitious realities created on Ayahuasca [27:00]