June 25th, 2015
This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection.
People have always been fascinated with the idea of a soul. One researcher, Rick Strassman, took this interest to the extreme and performed government approved research using the psychedelic drug N,N-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, also known as the spirit molecule. A short acting and highly powerful hallucinogenic drug, DMT is both synthesizable from the plant ayahuasca as well as being naturally occurring in the pineal gland of mammals. The study follows 60 human volunteers taking this drug and the book DMT: The Spirit Molecule details their personal experiences during the experiment. Strassman undertook this study due to his interest in the pineal gland as a potential biological locus for spiritual experiences. Although the study was ended in 1995, Strassman believes it was very successful and gathered a wealth of biological and psychological information from it. Rick Strassman is a currently practicing psychiatrist in New Mexico. In 2014 he published a second book on the topic, DMT and the soul of prophecy: a new science of spiritual revelation in the Hebrew Bible.
Interest in his study was strong and in 2010 a documentary with the same title, DMT: The Spirit Molecule, came out. The movie follows the same experiment as the book and interviews many experts, including Strassman, on the topic of the powerful psychedelic drug DMT and its potential for unlocking human spirituality. For further information on this topic, there are also many books on the plant ayahuasca, taken by native people in the Amazon, in the Santo Domingo Collection.
DMT: The Spirit Molecule is available at Widener Library in the Santo Domingo Collection. DMT and the soul of prophecy: a new science of spiritual revelation in the Hebrew Bible is also available at Harvard in the Andover Theological Library.
Thanks to Emma Clement, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.