June 28, 2021

Queering Psychedelic Research: A Pride Special

Queering Psychedelic Research: A Pride Special

Sherry Walling - 0:00:08
Welcome back to the MIND CURIOUS podcast. My guest today is Doctor Alex Belser. He's been a leader in the psychedelic research community for the last 20 years, having served as an investigator on clinical trials of psilocybin and MDMA to treat depression, anxiety, substance use, OCD, PTSD, and end-of-life distress. Alex is the editor of the forthcoming book Queering Psychedelics, from oppression to liberation and Psychedelic Medicine. He is a psychologist and co-investigator at Yale University. He also serves as the Chief Clinical Officer of Cybin, where he leads their clinical programs in psychedelic therapeutics.

Sherry Walling - 0:00:43
I'm so excited to share this rich conversation with you. As we celebrate Pride Month, Alex and I discussed some of the darker history around psychedelics in the queer community, but we also touched on the tremendous hope and promise that psychedelic compounds can have and the strategies for creating safety and even joy for all people who are undergoing these healing journeys. This conversation is for anyone who is curious about psychedelic compounds and new strategies for alleviating the significant amount of distress and pain in the world around us. Just a gentle reminder that this conversation does not constitute medical advice. This is a discussion among curious minds.

Sherry Walling - 0:01:27
The opinions expressed here are those of my own and of Dr. Belser and are not representative of the institutions or organizations which we may represent. Thanks so much for joining me. Let's dive in.  You know, I heard an interview with you where you talked about-- I think you used the language of sort of the queering of psychedelics. The sense of making the psychedelic community or adapting the psychedelic community to be more inclusive and more whole. And thinking about Pride Month, I thought maybe that would just be a good place to start. When you think about that term, queering, what does that mean?

Sherry Walling - 0:02:07
What does that mean to you?

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:02:10
Well, it's June 2021 and so, we're in Pride Month and the word queer was used as a slur against me and other people when I was growing up in really conservative and homophobic and transphobic places in the middle of the country. And really, it doesn't have to be just the middle of the country. It's really everywhere and anywhere. I mean this sort of experience is pretty common to sexual and general minority kids and adolescents growing up. And so, you know, we get to reclaim that word actively as a political act, as an identity to think about what it means to be queer, which is for me a bit of a political identity as somebody who is interested in creating a world rather than just receiving the world that were given-- as given.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:02:50
And, you know, with queering psychedelics, this was born out of some work that I was doing in the psychedelic research communities and conference communities where we just gather up LGBTQIA+ folks to come together and meet and band together, and Bia Labate and others at Chacruna hosted this wonderful conference in San Francisco called Queering Psychedelics with the intention of looking at the intersections of psychedelic consciousness and research medicine and culture, with queer identity and queer consciousness and the queer lineages of teaching. And there's a huge amount of overlap and there's also quite a bit of a perilous dark past here. So I think it's interesting for us to take a look at what that might mean, and I think that both of these worlds, the psychedelic worlds and the queer worlds could have a lot to learn from one another. And there's quite a bit of crossover along the way.

Sherry Walling - 0:03:52
And I want to hear about both of those components, right, this overlap, this way, in which there's already maybe some built-in incongruence, and then the perilousness, the ways in which there's some darker stories that maybe lie in the history.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:04:06
One of the things as we awaken to our own culture and what that is-- you don't have to go too far back in the history books to realize it's more complicated than the first story, you were probably told the first time around. And there's been a lot of recent scholarship that sort of unearthing the horribly homophobic past of psychedelic research. So I mean, just to recap, we've seen over the last 70, and we're approaching the 50-year anniversary of Nixon's war on drugs this week actually. But psychedelics have been used for 70 years, and so there's been this sort of narrative that there was a huge amount of research in the 50s and 60s with over 40,000 people who got psychedelic medicine, including LSD and psilocybin, in clinical trials and in clinical settings. And that was really a huge, robust time for psychedelic medicine research.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:04:53
This sort of narrative is it was forced to go underground if at all, and it's sort of at the higher institutions that was ended in the 1970s, with some exceptions, and then came back through this Renaissance, right before the term psychedelic resurgence, and direction of the wind has just changed. You know, there's-- I've been doing psychedelic research for 15 years now. I've been active in psychedelic world for 20 years, but only in the last two or three years has there been this massive change in direction where we see huge amounts of investment from industry in the idea that psychedelic medicines could be approved. The FDA has granted breakthrough therapy designation status to three different lines of medicine, MDMA and psilocybin for PTSD and depression. We've gone from two or three research universities conducting research to over 70 and hundreds of registered clinical trials,  and the media is really excited by the prospect of this.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:05:45
But in doing so, we had to look back at what happened in the 50s, 60s and 70s, and leaders like Tim Leary and Masters and Houston who wrote a very famous book around LSD treatment and mescaline treatment and Ram Dass, who, you know, Richard Alpert. They used these drugs in psychedelic conversion therapies. Leary said famously in Playboy, which was, you know, an in-depth interview.

Sherry Walling - 0:06:14
Ironic, I suppose. 

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:06:14
Yeah, exactly. The LSD is a specific cure for homosexuality.

Sherry Walling - 0:06:19
Wow!

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:06:20
This is-- Masters and Houston said that mescaline lead towards heterosexualization, you know. Homosexuality was seen as a  psychiatric disorder or something to be stamped out and converted out of people. It was seen as a maladjustment that could be corrected with psychedelic medicine. And because psychedelic medicine was so intense and powerful, it was used coercively and not unlike the ways that LSD was used coercively by the CIA for MKUltra or potentially for other coercive purposes.

Sherry Walling - 0:06:49
I almost just have to stop you and say, I mean, maybe by way of partial confession like I didn't know this. I don't know this part of this history. And I'm, you know, certainly not the most stiff person in psychedelic history by any stretch of the imagination. Lots of things to learn and read, but like, I didn't know this! I just had to say that like five times. Wow! 

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:07:14
I didn't know it either and I think that the psychedelic clinical psychotherapeutic world is awakening to the way in which, some of the rainbow skeletons of the past are still lurking in the closet, and we have a lot to learn about what happened that came before. This was common practice. This was practiced at Hollywood Hospital, probably the most famous psychedelic hospital, did publish a number of conversion work. There was work in the UK with lesbian women trying to convert them into being well adjusted heterosexual members of society "as it were."

Sherry Walling - 0:07:46
"To heal them."  Right?

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:07:50
Yes. The diagnostic and statistical manual at the time contained thought that homosexuality was a psychiatric disorder, so this was not just the psychedelic community. This was normal for psychiatry and psychology at the time and yet, we sort of forgot it. And I think, we do so at our own peril because there are ways implicitly in which this continues today. And this continues today, in the psychedelic and the research and clinical community with, for example, in an uninterrogated preference and even requirement in some studies and some large clinical trials that there be "a man and a woman in the room" to do psychedelic therapy work. And so it-- first of all, it's incredibly heteronormative but it doesn't acknowledge gender diversity and trans folks experience. It centers it in a heteronormative practice and it also essentializes gender stereotypes.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:08:42
What's the rationale, exactly, to have a cisgender woman and a cisgender male therapist in the room? And the rationale is some sort of, you know, combination of ideas that the male therapist brings masculine energy or sacred masculine sort of energy, or even in an analytic tradition, fatherly, stereotypical qualities and the woman brings sacred, feminine, stereotypical features, and that those are important to have those "motherly" qualities in the room with the patient. And there are-- there's the history of sexual abuse in trying to create risk mitigation procedures, so that people who come into the clinic for psychedelic therapy feel safe and have treatment with integrity from people who really care about them. And so there are ways to do that that are about the clients' experiences without having to sort on a hard gender binary. And so our work at NYU and in many other places including MAPS no longer require this gender stereotyping that happens in the room, which I think this does a disservice to patients whether they're straight or gay or cisgender or trans.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:09:44
It does a disservice to clinicians, I think, to really have a hard gender sort and instantiates the gender binary. We can do better.

Sherry Walling - 0:09:55
And there are certainly ways to ensure that level of safety and accountability by having an excellent therapeutic team of whatever makeup.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:10:00
Yeah and there may be compelling reasons to have a gender preference or gender assignment. If somebody has a history of trauma with somebody of a particular gender in a room, you can take that into account on a case-by-case basis. That's what patient-centered treatment is about, right? But you don't need to come up with a firm and fast rule that applies to all people that actually does more harm than good.

Sherry Walling - 0:10:24
The default assumption and setting that's not been assessed appropriately for each individual.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:10:28
Yeah.

Sherry Walling - 0:10:28
What has it been like for you to dive deep into this particular subfield within psychology and to know this troubling history? I mean, in a way it is that larger story of psychiatry and psychology and of course the larger culture. But, you know, this is kind of the home territory of your intellectual curiosity of your research endeavors. Have you had a reckoning with that? And, you know, have you sort of forgiven the history?

Sherry Walling - 0:10:55
Like what's the internal dialogue for you?

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:10:59
Well, I feel like we haven't had a reckoning, right? And this happens every Pride for me, can I just take for a moment the bigger step back? 

Sherry Walling - 0:11:04
Absolutely.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:11:08
You know, I'm in my early 40s now. We grew up in a time-- I grew up in a time and many people listening may have where I grew up learning that HIV and AIDS were associated as a gay disease. That having sex even during my sexual like education moments in school were like-- it was all about fear and death and virus and disease. And not only that, but profound-- profound shame and stigma for queer folks and gay men. Growing up as a gay boy, I was really exposed to that. And, you know, we had a complete in denial from the Reagan administration and from the government about the necessity to even study this disease.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:11:38
And queer folks died off in a plague with almost no reconciliation, no attention, no research, no money really being paid in the first few years of the pandemic. Today, it's 2021. We haven't had a reckoning. There's been no reckoning for this. I mean, it would be as though a massive pandemic had come through and the government had no response--  public health response for years, while people died in droves at hospitals.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:12:08
And so there's been no reckoning whatsoever. Now, in the psychedelic world, I don't think it's a coincidence that we don't want to look at this past, right? We don't want to look at the way in which structural racism has affected our research practice, the leadership, the makeup in multiple levels of the psychedelic research community. We don't want to see the way in which our homophobic and transphobic research past influences our current practices today. It's hard work.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:12:37
It's exhausting. It shines a light on things that perhaps we don't want to see. But if we can come together and confront it and ask the hard questions and integrate these sort of disavowed parts of our individual and collective traumas into the current practice, I sincerely believe and I hope that we can do-- not only do better but that we can-- we are up to the task of integrating, to actually do the full reckoning. And in doing so, to help ourselves along the way and the way that we conduct research and the future of psychedelic medicine, which could very well be the future of medicine.

Sherry Walling - 0:13:17
Yeah, I think one of the things that I'm struck by is, for many who are coming into this conversation around psychedelics, there's such excitement about the hopefulness, about this sort of lifesaving potential that may exist for these medicines, if they're used well. And in a way, I think that can add some urgency to the sense of sort of pushing under the rug or pushing into the shadows in the corners these darker stories or these elements of injustice that are part of the history of these medicines because people just get it through-- get it through the FDA, we'll worry about that later. I have some real concerns with that about sort of setting up the conversation around psychedelics on a foundation that's pretty shaky when it comes to empathy and justice and inclusion. And if you could sort of think about how you break down the elements of how to make that safer, right? And I think we can say things like great therapy, good training. But are there specifically things that come to your mind that would make that exploration safer for people? 

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:14:23
When I think about safety and how to support process,  my sense in learning from them and in thinking about this is that it's not just about what happens in the room, right? It's not just a beautiful room with flowers and plants and a safe good rapport with your therapy team. We could even burn a little incense and have sacred objects, and people could bring in photographs of loved ones. All of that is good. It may not be enough because actually the nesting dolls that create that space are-- is it hosted in a hospital?

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:14:48
Like what's the culture and ethos in that hospital? Is it run by a sort of study administrators and a funder and a sponsor and a regulatory world? Is the training happening in a place like what is-- what are the nesting overlapping ways in which the structural context that supports profound deep healing? And so, we have been locked in I think, in our training. I'm trained as a psychologist, right? To think about the individual atomistic in person,  the single person who has symptoms that we can then treat, but structurally, I think psychedelics sometimes ask us to think about these overlapping nesting structures that become containers. And so, disorder, chaos, injustice, discrimination at nested levels around the practice of medicine inform and influence what happens in that room, and we pick up on those that information.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:15:42
So the process of healing is really not just about what happens in the room with the medicine, but it's about the structural practices that we enact, that we reform in order to feel safer, more powerful, more attuned amongst each other. Psychedelic medicine is not about an atomistic individual medicalized model where like this whole person gets a pill and then their symptoms improve hopefully for a short period of time and then we send them back into the world. I think it may really ask something different from us.

Sherry Walling - 0:16:21
The word that was coming to mind as you were sort of describing what it could feel like to do this work in a certain kind of setting is actually joy. Like to be able to embark on a healing journey as an individual entity, but that's connected to a larger sense of being in a place of joy, of soulfulness of, you know, some of these may be less scientific, less measurable, less outcome oriented,  maybe more spiritually based, you know, concepts that do shape the extent to which someone feels like they can be in the experience as their full self.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:17:01
Well, I think it's an interesting question. Why couldn't these be scientific topics? Why does science have to be cold and metallic and sterile? If science, this word, this is like a loaded word, that moment means nothing anymore. What if it's really about the study of  what is and how it came to be?

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:17:18
And with psychedelic medicine, we see consistently that people have profound mystical experiences. We do have questionnaires. We've mystical experience questionairre, Ralph Hood and the Hood Mysticism Scale. We wrote a paper a few years ago. This sort of work, building from the theological literature and study of that is our birthright as human beings.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:17:37
So we have the capacity as humans to have ecstatic states of consciousness that William James, the alleged father of psychology, who wrote about saints and mystics and conversion experiences. This is what we can study and by study, I mean learning. It doesn't mean we have to dissect it and reduce it necessarily down to atoms, molecules, and neurons, right? But I think that we can take a look at what this means because with psilocybin, for example, we see that the vast majority of people report literally using words like love -- profound experiences of love, joy, bliss. And we can study that, right? It doesn't just have to be depression symptomatology.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:18:13
I mean, it's about the human experience and human phenomenology, and we can study that by asking people about it through in-depth interviews and coming out through thematic analysis. And we can formalize that. Then we should and we are. That's what's happening. But if you want to look at healing, what if soulful, spiritual, mystical experiences promoted healing?

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:18:38
You know, this is the premise of AA. You know, Bill W., the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was treated with psychedelic medicine. He had a conversion experience with belladonna alkaloids, conversion in the sense that he had a spiritual conversion experience, and stopped drinking. And he had very publicly attributed that, tried to get psychedelics to be accessible and allowed within the AA context, and he was overruled, and so that psychedelics are not traditional part of the AA approach today. If you were to ask me the question, most people the question like well psychedelics people take them and then they get better.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:19:13
Why? What is the mediator? What is the mechanism of action that promotes this? The hardest data that we have is that people score high on this mystical experience questionnaire. That people have these experiences of profound unity, interconnectedness, a deep feeling of sacredness and love. And that predicts decreases in their anxiety scores, their depression scores, their substance use, behavioral patterns.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:19:33
It's not whether they got the drugs-- it's when they had the medicine with psychotherapy, they had a spiritual experience. And if they did, using this particular scale, it explains and there are squared. You know, I can get nerdy for a moment, but it explains statistically a mediator and has been shown in multiple trials to be a mediator of symptom reduction. And so when you asked why does it work? It's because people had a spiritual experience.

Sherry Walling - 0:20:03
The phenomenological understanding of it is "I met the divine" or "I encountered this thing outside of me."

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:20:08
Yeah. And, you know, not to get esoteric, but what is real? And what is real is human consciousness. And when you ask people, it's very real to them. You know, it's very real to them,  and just because we can't put it in a blood draw and get a plasma concentration, it doesn't mean  it's not real because it's  as real as what happened for the person who experienced it and tries to tell us about it.

Sherry Walling - 0:20:32
And it strikes me that you've done quite a lot of work with people who are at the end of their lives or who have had a terminal cancer diagnosis and you've done some studies. Am I correct? With psilocybin and how to kind of mitigate end of life or to interact differently with end-of-life anxiety, end-of-life states. So that strikes me as a spiritual journey for most people, right? When you're reckoning with those very existential realities around what makes life meaningful or not or how you approach the end of your life.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:21:03
Yeah, we've done research and this is part of the lineage of psychedelics going back to the 50s and 60s research with people with end-of-life anxiety, existential distress, depression, cancer patients. And so we are building and partnering with UCLA and Johns Hopkins and our team at NYU. We've done a series of studies looking at treating people with end-of-life distress. Like it's the most avoided conversation in medicine and psychedelic medicine has been shown to be profoundly healing in people confronting this. This question of of life and death and what's really going on.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:21:37
And it's actually a little hard to study from a regulatory perspective because existential distress is not a...

Sherry Walling - 0:21:46
We don't have a code for that.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:21:49
We don't have a code for the pain of being human but we'd like to be able to work with it.

Sherry Walling - 0:21:57
Well, it's just not a disorder, right? It's a universal wrestling that we all are scared to face and scared to do. If psychedelics can help to ease that fear, then I'm sure, as you've seen over and over, there's a sense of peacefulness and a sense of sort of placement of ourselves in the timeline of our lives that can facilitate this. I think really deep perspective and really deep recognition of who we are and what we value and what we can be content with as our lives end.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:22:29
Yeah. And it's  not easy. It's not like-- and there may be people who are listening who've never taken psychedelics. But in our research and interviews with people, in order for people to get through to that experience of mystical expands,  this profound sense of unity and interconnectedness and feeling, that one drop of bliss oftentimes about half of them and sometimes more have too often-- I mean, I think there's an arc to it. They often go through very challenging experiences.

Sherry Walling - 0:22:59
It's kind of like the heroes' journey, right? There's a dragon to slay or demons to face and then it's on the other side of that, within the journey that there feels like a return to a new place.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:23:10
Yeah, and I think in this sort of archetypal framing of the heroes' journey, you would-- whether anyone has to go into the underworld and everything that they think they have could be taken from them. You know, the psychedelic experience, even when we do everything that we can, people have this feared bad trip or what I think is a better word for like a difficult struggle, a difficult experience what Saint John of the Cross called the dark night of the soul. People have transient experiences of fear and even like passing panic and real anxiety and people have what they called death rehearsals or ego death. You may have heard these sorts of terms and what I think is important to say is that what we find is that these are not necessarily like problems. That in fact, these are things that people carry with them in their bodies somatically. These are traumas or experiences they carry with them in their lives that they have a hard time confronting and they can come forward in a psychedelic experience.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:24:07
But what we find is that with the support of their psychotherapy team, because they feel like they're in a safe place, a beautiful room and a beautiful place, because they've come with intention, they can hold out their hand and get a little good touch, a handholding friend support from the therapist team. And they move through that fear and paranoia and anxiety and feeling like they're losing control into potentially something quite beautiful. And so the arc of the heroes journey can be completed. And so, unlike other medicines that suppress symptoms, take a pill and call me in the morning,  these medicines actually evince symptoms like the deep root of problems potentially and ask us, "Can you do the work to resolve this, to metabolize the trauma, to confront the thing that you've been afraid of admitting or confronting?" And if you can do that with good support, there's profound relief.

Sherry Walling - 0:25:02
There's one other piece of your work that I'd love to spend a little bit of time and I want to ask you about a little more is the work that you've done with risk and protective factors around suicide for kids who are growing up or I think particularly gay kids. And do these worlds connect for you? The world of psychedelic science and this conversation around risk and prevention 'cause in a way we're talking about it from the opposite side, right? People who are contemplating death and trying to find some sense of equanimity or peacefulness as they approach that eventuality. And then, on the other hand, we're talking about kids who are so lost in who they are and where they fit in the world that death feels like a relief and we want to, you know, as a psychologist, sort of treatment goal is to bring them out of that place-- of death piece.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:25:52
Yeah and the kids feel so lost because I think we've cast them out and we've made them to become lost.  That's how I frame it. And so, for background, when I was doing my dissertation research was on how to prevent suicide amongst lesbian, gay, bi, pan kids, adolescents, youth. Because when you look at the numbers, the rates amongst sexual minority kids is incredibly high. It's that there's not really great data on this, but it looks like it's probably the highest than in any other cohort of people regardless of age or identity.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:26:23
And when we look at risk protective factors the whole point about that is it's not that the kid is sick. It's that the kid grew up in a place where we built a closet around them board by board, plank by plank, messages through thousands of messages about that privileges, straight experience. And so they feel alone and isolated and they feel in the interpersonal theory of suicide that's articulated by Joiner and others that they feel that they have their perceived burden on their families. They're seeing that they would be a burden if they were to come out so that is one of the things that they want to kill themselves or remove themselves as to relieve the burden on others. That they have thwarted belongingness, that they don't belong to their peers at school or to their family, or to their church or temple or places of worship. And then also-- so they have increased suicidal ideations and then, on top of that, they  have experienced so many harms because they have such high rates of harassment, bullying, victimization, explicit rejection, especially from our most closed loved ones.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:27:25
These rejection experiences including physical and sexual abuse. And your kids that they actually-- they're accustomed to violence both like metaphorical violence and actual violence, these queer kids. And so, they're more likely to actually take the step to do something violent to themselves. And so when you look at risk and protective factors, it's really about like how can we in our schools, in our places of worship, in our communities, in our language, and our public policy, I mean, you see this now in the "culture wars," where trans kids are in states, living in states, where it's illegal for them to go to the bathroom without fearing for their lives  that they could beat up. We can't go to the bathroom without feeling like in either room they're going to get beat up.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:28:08
Can you imagine going your day where you couldn't pee somewhere in peace?

Sherry Walling - 0:28:12
What a basic human right, right? Just this basic function of our bodies like they need to do this safely.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:28:18
Yeah. And so, you know, the work that we are doing is around that. And I think that, you know, psychedelic, there's quite a few crossovers here, and we know that psychedelics can be helpful potentially for suicidality particularly. There's a lot of great research on ketamine. And I love working in the psychedelic dose range with ketamine, not just at the low-dose range, as a treatment for suicidality. I'm working with a patient right now who just had her first ketamine treatment, and she's been suicidal, and she's queer and profound benefit in the short term for her, and we'll see where it goes.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:28:47
But there's quite a bit of research and the FDA has even approved the ketamine product for the treatment of suicidality. It's an incredible medicine, and I think that with medicines like psilocybin or some of the compounds that we're developing at my organization at Cybin, where I'm, you know, trying to design treatment experiences and medications to help for things that we may see some benefit for the treatment of suicidality. And it starts with the person, but when we talk about risk and protective factors, we're talking bout the whole social organism, right? We can't just frame it as a pathologized individual. 

Sherry Walling - 0:29:24
Well, what a rich conversation. Is there anything that feels unfinished or incomplete from your perspective? I know in 35 minutes, we covered the totality of what you know and care about, Alex?

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:29:35
Well, sometimes I feel a little bit like I'm banging the drum of some a little bit of dark material which is like the skeletons in our closet and some of the ways in which we we are still unaware of our heteronormative privileges and the way that that may harm people. But, you know, it's Pride Month and Pride is really a celebration, and I invite all folks regardless of your sexual identity or gender identity to  participate as allies because there's a lot to celebrate honestly. You know, we grew up in a time where medicine, I think, was still struggling to figure out how we can really help and heal people. And I think that psychedelics can be a little disruptive, subversive, in the way that queer folks can be subversive in the sense that it challenges us that our old modes and methods of healing ourselves and taking care of each other may no longer suffice and we can celebrate that if we can do it with skill, compassion, and integrity. And there's a time to party and sometimes you party in the face of grave harms and ills. And that's maybe the most important time to like celebrate each other, celebrate what we're doing.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:30:40
I feel profoundly honored to get to work with my colleagues and with my patients. It's just - it's so beautiful. And, you know, in the face of profound suffering, the only answer can be like, "How do we come together and light a little light?" And I think that calls for some deep work and it can be so beautiful.

Sherry Walling - 0:31:02
You're creating those sparks of joy and through that, writing a new history. I mean, what you're doing now is the next chapter of this history and I think that's incredible.

Dr. Alex Belser - 0:31:13
Thank you for having me on Sherry and I really appreciate the opportunity. And, you know, the history books have yet to be written. We'll see what happens here but there are so many good people doing good work and I really look at them for their leadership. It's so beautiful, so thank you.

Sherry Walling - 0:31:29
My pleasure. Thank you. If you would like to follow more of what Alex is doing, you can find him online at alexbelser.com. You can also follow his work where he is Chief Clinical Officer of the company Cybin, C Y B I N. This conversation is brought to you by Mind Cure Health. For more about all that MINDCURE is doing and the conversations that we are having within the psychedelic community, feel free to check out mindcure.com or follow us on social media channels.

Sherry Walling - 0:32:03
Until next time.