025: Psychedelic Medicine Trials with Participant Kirk Rutter by Joe

This is Entheogen. Talk about tools for generating the divine within.

Today is February 28, 2016, and we are discussing Psychedelic Medicine Trials with a participant in a recent psilocybin study, Kirk Rutter.

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Special thanks to our guest on today’s show, Kirk Rutter, who offers listeners a rare glimpse of what it’s like to participate in a psychedelic medicine trial. Kirk worked with Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, David Erritzoe (who sat in on the sessions), Prof. David Nutt (who oversaw the project), and Mark Bolstridge at the Imperial College of London, studying the impact of psilocybin on depression.


  • Kirk shares a bit of background about why he sought out this study

  • The screening process

  • Kirk’s prior experience (none) and opinion of psychedelics before the study

  • No interaction with the other participants during the trials, meeting these automatic allies after the conclusion of the trials.

  • The benefit of the “dry run” of set and setting a week ahead of time. Compare this protocol to the DMT studies by Strassman – demonstrates the importance of a comfortable setting.

  • Kirk offers the term “psychedelic turbulence”, and the analogy of taking off in a plane: passing through the clouds, there may be some turbulence, and then once you reach a certain height it becomes calm.

  • Sanskrit text flashing in the darkness, faint geometrics, jewels, golden structures…

  • Describing the session room: niceties like ambient laser lights, aroma machine, candles, fresh flowers.

  • The music in the room. The care given to the playlist. The importance of the playlist as part of the protocol.

  • Psychedelic lacrymation.

  • The “psychedelic yawn”.

  • We all share our deep cries.

  • Using music to help embed the experience.

  • The roles of David, Robin, and Mark and how they factored into the experience.

  • Robin: “one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”

  • We all don’t like the zoo. (E.g. “Meerkats basking under sunlamps.”)

  • Kirk’s experience of seeing “an Indian god ‘look in on me’ like a parent looking over a baby's crib”

  • Kevin’s experience seeing the same deity as Kirk: Ganesh, the "remover of obstacles", the "God of wisdom, knowledge and new beginnings". He sounds like a good totem to have through the 25mg experience”

  • Chanting, meditating

Check out Kirk’s blog for a first person description of what it’s like to participate in modern psychedelic research, including videos from your accommodations at the Imperial College campus in London.