Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationCalifornia, Berkeley, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9825
Approve DateApril 30, 2019
Project TitleKubala, Patricia (California, Berkeley, U. of) "The Medicine World: Healing and Ethics in Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy," supervised by Dr. Stefania Pandolfo
PATRICIA KUBALA, then a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, California, was awarded funding in May 2019 to aid research on ‘The Medicine World: Healing and Ethics in Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy,’ supervised by Dr. Stefania Pandolfo. This project studies the recent revival of interest in the United States and around the world in the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. It is based on fieldwork with San Francisco Bay Area healers, patients, and consciousness explorers who incorporate what they call ‘medicine’ — MDMA, ‘magic’ mushrooms, and other psychoactive substances — into their practices of psychotherapy and self-cultivation. The grantee explores practitioners’ claims that this ‘medicine work’ is a transformational and even transgressive kind of healing with the capacity to resolve deep-rooted traumas of the past and open human consciousness to a new reality and way of life. These somatic and sensory-rich practices have their roots in a complex intertwining of indigenous, postcolonial, and countercultural histories, and the study investigates the ambivalent yet generative legacy of these histories in the context of the current ‘renaissance’ of interest in psychedelics in American society. The grantee argues that within these spaces of healing and hope for a better and different world, interlocutors find themselves caught in the continued paradoxes, tensions, and dilemmas of living in the ongoing conditions of settler-colonial society and in the aftermath of violence against the very kinds of healing traditions and relations with non-human others that they are working to resurrect.