How Psychedelics Might Help Save the World (Or At Least Humanity)

How can psychedelics help save the world? By creating a change in consciousness influencing human behavior towards greater kindness.
By John Rhead, PhD
October 22, 2019(Updated: March 17, 2021)

Humanity is facing a serious problem of imminent extinction, but could psychedelics help save the world? Unless we change several factors of our everyday behavior, threats to our survival worsen. An examination of the possible psychological and spiritual causes of the types of behavior that threaten the survival of our species reveals an intriguing possibility. However, it appears that the judicious use of psychedelics could mitigate maladaptive behaviors and replace them with alternatives that are likely to be far more adaptive.


The Problem

It seems quite clear that humanity is moving in the direction of destroying itself, primarily through climate change. But increasing hatred and war might also threaten us, owing to increasing wealth disparity and dictatorial/oligarchical governments.

Attempts at Solutions

Countries pass laws to require their citizens to be kind to one another and to the planet. They also make treaties to try to promote global peace and stability. The overall success of these attempts at creating external controls over human behavior has not been very promising.

An Alternative Solution

Basically trying to control the behavior of individuals and countries by imposing external structures or laws isn’t working. Perhaps it would be more helpful to bring about a change in consciousness (which is intrinsically internal) in as many people as possible. A change in consciousness that might be helpful. This would involve moving from external structures and laws to internal values as a way of influencing human behavior. As a result, it would lead to more kindness in general, including toward other humans and all life on the planet. Many respected thinkers, such as the Dali Lama, Thomas Merton, and Paramahansa Yogananda have suggested this.

How Psychedelics Help Save the World

There are two ways that psychedelics might contribute to a positive change in consciousness.

First, when used skillfully they can lead to peak or mystical experiences. During these experiences the boundaries of the individual ego dissolve. Consequently, one knows that they are intimately connected through love to everything and everyone else on the planet. After having had such an experience most people find that it is much more difficult to do things that are harmful to anything or anyone. This is one of the more generic outcomes of mental health research on psychedelics. Research shows they may be very therapeutic in treating depression, anxiety, addictions, and a variety of other mental health conditions.

Psychedelics’ second possible contribution to a positive change in consciousness has to do with acquiring helpful information about how best to save the planet. While the mind is open to connections with all other life forms, it is possible that these other life forms may actually provide helpful information to the the psychedelic user. Similarly, a shaman’s journey can lead to being help, guiding, and information from shamanic allies outside of physical reality. Shamans in the Amazon use a variety of techniques to access such connections. These techniques include the use of ayahuasca and other plant-based psychedelics.

Where to Start

As noted above, psychedelics have a long history of helping humans. This is especially true for those working as shamans, in an effort to make positive and helpful connections with all life forms. Positive connections can also be facilitated between humans (MDMA seems especially powerful in this domain). It therefore seems logical to start with ways of expanding consciousness in as many interested people as possible. Achieving this can be done with the use of psychedelics. Otherwise, non-drug techniques such as holotropic breathwork and a variety of ancient spiritual practices can achieve the same. Experiencing such expanded states of consciousness together, might be particularly helpful for groups with a particular need for positive and helpful connections.

Palestinians, Israelis, and Ayahuasca: Can Psychedelics Promote Reconciliation?
Dr. Leor Roseman, Centre for Psychedelic Research, Imperial College London

What if learning about possible benefits of psychedelics to humanity and enriched states of wellbeing were prerequisites for politicians and lawmakers? Their inclination might be to repeal laws that hinder research and develop new ways for communities to safely access psychedelics.

Psychedelics Help Save the World from Disaster?

Humanity and this planet face a very real crisis with regard to its survival. If more people could have access to ways to expand consciousness, such as the careful use of psychedelics substances, there is a chance that enough wisdom could be acquired by enough people to avert disaster.



Published by:
John Rhead, PhD
I am a Psychologist based in Baltimore, MD. Learn more about my integration and mental health services on my profile page in the Psychedelic Support Network. I look forward to working with you.

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