You learn a lot on a book tour, much of it unexpected and some of it illuminating. As I’ve traveled around the country talking to audiences and journalists about the science of psychedelics and my new book How to Change Your Mind, what has surprised me most is how many people have pulled me aside and whispered, “Can I tell you a story?”
Often these are stories that have either never been told or not for years, kept in a personal box labeled “weird drug experience” and tucked away in a far corner of the mental attic. Perhaps the storyteller was embarrassed to share it — there is certainly a stigma attached to having these experiences, let alone taking them seriously — or there were kids around.
But these aren’t just “weird drug experiences.” Rather, they’re powerful stories about how a psychedelic trip changed someone’s life in a lasting way. There have been times when I felt like I was taking confession! People told me about trips that led to scientific insight, or recovery from psychological trauma, or freedom from addiction, or a vocation change. Many of these trips took place decades ago, but their ripples and implications are still being felt today.
The culture has not offered much space or opportunity for sharing this kind of story, despite the fact the teller had always secretly believed it contained a precious lesson or kernel of insight. (And besides, isn’t it a little like telling people about your dreams?)
It is true that some of these tales are only of interest to one’s spouse or therapist, if anyone. But many of them are interesting enough — revealing enough, whether about personal transformation or the nature of reality or the wellsprings of creativity and innovation — to deserve a wider audience.
That’s why I wrote a serious, scientific book in which I also share stories of transformative psychedelic experiences from ordinary people. And I share a few of my own stories too.
One story creates an opening for another. So with the help of the editors at Medium, we’ve created a space for these heretofore hidden histories: Trips Worth Telling. We read hundreds of your stories and selected a few to share. We’ve enjoyed these stories of transformation and we hope you will too.