‘The nice thing about ketamine is it gives you this really nice third-person perspective’

In the lower left corner of this photo is a small rectangle with closeup of a depressed-looking Black person against a yellow background. A larger, zoomed-out, slightly blurry version of the same image, but colored red, is to the left of the small rectangle, which overlaps it slightly. The background is an even more zoomed-out and blurry version of the pic, colored orange.
In the lower left corner of this photo is a small rectangle with closeup of a depressed-looking Black person against a yellow background. A larger, zoomed-out, slightly blurry version of the same image, but colored red, is to the left of the small rectangle, which overlaps it slightly. The background is an even more zoomed-out and blurry version of the pic, colored orange.
Photo illustration: Save As for Medium; source: Getty Images

At Connecticut’s Behavioral Wellness Clinic, therapist Mailae Halstead keeps a careful eye on her patients as they’re “pulled through time.” She’s there as they watch themselves survive a traumatic moment from a bird’s-eye view, or feel reimmersed in a joyful experience. She’ll ask few questions because there’s another force at work in their brains.

At the beginning of the session, her patients placed a ketamine-laced lozenge in their mouth for a very specific reason: to explore the psychological trauma left by systemic racism.

The ketamine dosing session is the culmination of weeks of preparation. Halstead has learned her patient’s personalities…

Emma Betuel

Freelance science journalist covering the future of science and society.

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