Ep.83 – Power Trip: Psychedelic Therapy & The Ethics of High-Minded Healing | Lily Kay Ross & David Nickles

This week, Candice is honored to welcome New York Magazine’s Cover Story: Power Trip producers Lily Kay Ross & David Nickles to the pod. Lily & Dave share about the behind the scenes events that led to the 2021 launch of their investigative podcast series and about the backlash they’ve experience researching and reporting on abuse in psychedelic communities. Topics touched upon in this episode include: how trauma shapes our experience of psychedelics, the way in which harm mitigation (actionable empathy) is often perceived as a threat to ‘the movement’, and neoliberal gaslighting of victims. Lily & Dave share why the rush to medicalize psychedelics is problematic, due in part to a lack of credible research when it comes to mental health outcomes, and then remind listeners why it’s important to be cautious when exploring psychedelics in both communal and therapeutic environments. The roots of ‘psychedelic authoritarianism’ are discussed, as well as alternatives for folks who’d like to explore psychedelics without suggestive oversight. Lily speaks to why the word ‘power’ itself can be a red flag and why ‘resistance’ is something we should celebrate. Dave shares why he loves psychedelics and the political tensions they force us to confront. In what may be the final deep-dive convo of the series, Candice finds solace in the fact that – come hell or high water – people like Lily & Dave are working hard to expose injustice and enable collective change.

Lily Kay Ross, MDiv, PhD is a journalist, harm reduction advocate, and independent scholar advancing the field of Critical Psychedelic Studies. She’s Creator and Producer of New York magazine’s Cover Story: Power Trip podcast. She’s interested in queer, feminist and neurodivergent perspectives, peer-reviewed research, and science journalism that centers patients and people with lived experience. She has her Masters of Divinity from Harvard, and her PhD in Gender Studies from the University of Otago.

David Nickles is an underground researcher, harm reduction advocate, and journalist. He’s Creator and Producer of New York magazine’s Cover Story: Power Trip podcast. As a forerunner of Critical Psychedelic Studies, his work has focused on the intersection of radical politics and the sociocultural implications of psychoactive substances, research and clinical ethics, and novel phytochemical analysis of psychoactive materials. He is a vocal opponent of psychedelic commodification and blows glass in an idealistic attempt to avoid monetizing his psychedelic work. Dave is the former Managing Editor of Psymposia.

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