The following is a small snippet from the excellent article here at drug reporter
DoS: How did you discover psychedelics then?
MK: Because of my fascination with the altered states of consciousness described in Monroe’s book, I read articles about ketamine’s ability to induce similar states, and about ayahuasca and other psychedelics used in traditional ceremonies. That basically triggered a lot of interest – I realized that these compounds could be used to study their effects on consciousness within an experimental setting, by facilitating experiences that aren’t normally easily accessible or reliably evoked in people.
DoS: And then, suddenly…you’re conducting human psychedelic research?!
MK: (Laughs) No, not exactly. Though I had transferred majors from marine biology to neuroscience, my university professors at the time were not all equally supportive of this interest in psychedelics, but fortunately I found some good mentors at the university too. I became more interested in the clinical applications of these drugs, and one of them encouraged me to write essays, which I did for the use of psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression, and MDMA for treatment of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I also got involved in organizing and attending conferences through the OPEN Foundation in Holland, but by the end of my Master’s I was really looking to do a long-term research project leading to a PhD position.
DoS: Sounds like quite the synchronicity! What was your early experience like working with the Imperial team?
MK: Indeed, I was quite lucky! During my six-month internship they published their first fMRI study using psilocybin in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (see Carhart-Harris et al., 2012), and they also received the first government grant to fund a depression trial using psilocybin. Additionally, Amanda Feilding from the Beckley Foundation worked to fund and collaborate on a human neuroimaging study with LSD, and I just happened to be there when they were looking for someone to help coordinate the study, and they asked if I wanted to make that my PhD project (see Carhart-Harris et al., 2016).
DoS: Thank you very much for your taking the time to speak with us, we’re very excited about the work you’re doing and eager to learn more from your findings.
MK: Absolutely, I’m honored to have been featured in your first interview! Your readers might be interested in an online study we just launched. One part of this looks more broadly into “setting” variables. While there’s no control group or placebo condition, and these experiences are happening outside of the laboratory setting, such a naturalistic study brings also new opportunities.
DoS: Fantastic! Here’s the “Psychedelic Survey” link for those interested in participating.