First-of-its-kind study hints at how psilocybin works in the brain to dissolve ego

The psychedelic experience can be rough on a person's ego. Those who experiment with magic mushrooms and LSD often describe a dissolution of the self, otherwise known as ego-death, ego-loss, or ego-disintegration. For some, the experience is life-changing; for others, it's downright terrifying. Yet despite anecdote after anecdote of good trips and bad trips, no one really knows what these drugs actually do to our perception of self. The human brain's cortex is where the roots of self awareness are thought to lie, and growing evidence has shown the neurotransmitter, glutamate, is elevated in this region when someone is tripping. But up until now we've only had observational evidence. Now, for the first time, researchers have looked directly into how taking psilocybin affects glutamate activity in the brain. And the evidence suggests that our tripping experience, whether good or bad,...

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Strongest solar flares in years coincide with riots, reminding us that solar activity and unrest are historically linked

With so many dramatic and consuming events taking place in our world, it's easy to forget that as human beings we are deeply affected by all of the cosmic events taking place in the universe around us. We are beings of frequency in a universe made of energy. Major civil unrest, protesting and rioting began to foment in the United States on the 28th of May, and on the night of the 29th, the unrest spread to over 30 American cities, marking the most significant incident of unrest many of us have ever seen. While these events are deeply rooted in societal tension that has been building for decades, the timing of recent flare ups of unrest happens to coincide with a new wave of solar activity including the strongest solar flare we've seen in three years. "Solar flares are...

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Intelligence distribution: Why so few female CEOs? Same reason few women on death row

Despite all the efforts of equalization, women in high-ranking corporate positions are still exceedingly rare. But they are almost as rare in the dredges of society - and the reasons for both run deeper than sexism. It is more than passing curious that at a time when women constitute roughly half the workforce, and are in the actual majority in terms of earning college degrees, there are still so few female CEOs. The distaff side accounts for CEOs in only 167 out of 3,000 large companies, which translates into a rather modest 5.5 percent of the total. Various explanations have been put forth to account for this fact. Women do a disproportionate share of household tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, childcare, shopping. This accounts for some of the gap, but not all of it. Females are less ambitious; they do...

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Spiritual emergency: Western treatment of psychosis is thoroughly wrong-headed

What do you think of hallucinations? Do you wonder how they work? Recently I talked about this with a woman I know well, who was experiencing some as we spoke. Her hallucinations included 'bugs' - microphones that she saw scattered around the room that she assumed had been put there because she was coming in, by people who wanted to keep track of everything she said, and might hurt her at any point. She could see the bugs, but I could not. Martha is in her mid 30s. Her bright blonde hair is natural. She sat on one side of a corner from me, her body tense and passive at once, the odd mixture one sees with people who are gripped with inner distress but whose musculature is flattened out by atypical antipsychotics. She carries the tight, extra weight that...

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How kind is humankind? Kinder than we imagine

Augustine had it that 'no one is free from sin, not even an infant'. Machiavelli deemed that humans are 'ungrateful, fickle hypocrites', and even the founding father John Adams, the paragon of American democracy, was sure that all men would be tyrants if they could. Thucydides, Luther, Calvin, Burke, Bentham, Nietzsche, Freud — all were wrong about our natures. So was William Golding, creator of Lord of the Flies, himself a child-beater and a drunk. For a treatise on human kindness, Rutger Bregman's new book Humankind has surprisingly many villains. Here's 'a radical idea... a mind-bending drug... denied by religions and ideologies', we're told. Humans are not evil. Deep down, at least most of us are pretty decent. Left to their own devices, children will not tear each other apart on an island: quite the opposite. In the clash between...

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The #1 myth about psychopaths and narcissists: What people get wrong

One of the biggest misconceptions about psychopaths and malignant narcissists who have psychopathic traits is the idea that they are lashing out from pain when they engage in aggressive behavior. Nothing could be further from the truth. The defining characteristic of a psychopath is their tendency to engage in what is known as instrumental aggression (Glenn & Raine, 2009). Instrumental aggression is deliberate aggression waged against a victim for the purpose of fulfilling an agenda or getting some sort of reward. This type of aggression, also known as proactive or predatory aggression, is planned, premeditated, and often unprovoked by their victims; it is controlled, purposeful, and used to achieve personal gain, usually an external goal like money, social status, fame, drugs, or even sadistic pleasure derived from the act of inflicting pain. Research has found that psychopathic criminals are more...

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Does science support miracles? New study documents a blind woman’s healing

She once was blind, but now she sees — a peer-reviewed medical journal has published the extraordinary case study of a woman whose eyesight was spontaneously restored after prayer for healing. It's the latest example of how researchers are increasingly using scientific methods to investigate claims of miracles. The study details the medical history of a woman who was blind for more than a dozen years from juvenile macular degeneration, an incurable condition. She had attended a school for the blind, used a white cane for mobility, and read braille. One night at bedtime her husband, a Baptist pastor, got on his knees to pray. He put a hand on her shoulder as she laid on the bed. They were both crying as he prayed: "Oh, God! You can restore ... eyesight tonight, Lord. I know you can do it!...

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Latest DMT study addresses eerie prevalence of hallucinations of ‘interdimensional entities’

Last month researchers released a new study on the hallucinogen DMT (or dimethyltryptamine) that provided fresh survey data on the phenomenon of DMT users experiencing and encountering sentient 'entities' while tripping. Scientists believe the findings could help to better understand near-death experiences and alien-abduction experiences, as well as develop treatments for mood and behavioral disorders. The study involved surveying over 2,000 DMT users, the majority of whom claimed to have had positive encounters and even emotional exchanges with beings they felt were advanced and benevolent. Most of the users, upon coming down from the drug, felt the beings were real and not manufactured solely by a hallucination. The survey produced the following additional data: 99% had an emotional response and of those, 58% believed the entity they encountered also had an emotional response and the feeling was overwhelmingly positive, though...

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Self-awareness: How and why you should cultivate it

Self-awareness seems to have become the latest management buzzword — and for good reason. Research suggests that when we see ourselves clearly, we are more confident and more creative. We make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively. We're less likely to lie, cheat, and steal. We are better workers who get more promotions. And we're more-effective leaders with more-satisfied employees and more-profitable companies. As an organizational psychologist and executive coach, I've had a ringside seat to the power of leadership self-awareness for 15 years. I've also seen how attainable this skill is. Yet, when I first began to delve into the research on self-awareness, I was surprised by the striking gap between the science and the practice of self-awareness. All things considered, we knew surprisingly little about improving this critical skill. A few years ago, my team...

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SOTT FOCUS: Reclaiming Your Inner Fascist

Comment: This was first published in November 2019, but it's 'timeless advice' for the general situation we currently find ourselves in... OK, we need to talk about fascism. Not just any kind of fascism. A particularly insidious kind of fascism. No, not the fascism of the early 20th Century. Not Mussolini's National Fascist Party. Not Hitler's NSDAP. Not Francoist fascism or any other kind of organized fascist movement or party. Not even the dreaded Tiki-torch Nazis. It's the other kind of fascism we need to talk about. The kind that doesn't come goose-stepping up the street waving big neo-Nazi flags. The kind we don't recognize when we're looking right at it. It's like that joke about the fish and the water ... we don't recognize it because we're swimming in it. We're surrounded by it. We are inseparable from it....

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