The Varieties of Ketamine Experience

Phil Wolfson, MD

Abstract: Unprecedented recent interest has arisen in the dissociative anesthetic drug ketamine as a novel antidepressant presumably acting through synaptogenesis, NMDA antagonism, and glutamate pathways. Mainstream journals such as Science, several clinical studies, and even a few psychiatric tabloids have touted its potential virtues and hazards and have established a basis for clinical use in the treatment of intractable depression. This presentation will share the results of a replication of the ketamine protocol historically employed by the National Institute of Mental Health and others for treatment of depression, in seven volunteers. Comparative data will be presented enabling a view of the drug’s potentialities for psychiatric/psychotherapeutic use across the dosage spectrum. With ketamine, the main effect is an ascending level of anesthesia with provocation of unique psychedelic effects in a range above the mild anesthesia of the IV infusion procedure, and continuing up to more profound anesthesia and loss of consciousness. Dosage by body weight does not necessarily coincide with psychedelic effect, this being a product of the specific sensitivity of the recipient and actual dosage administered. This presentation will include an open discussion of the effects of ketamine and different modes of delivery.

Phil Wolfson, PhD, is a sixties activist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, writer, practicing Buddhist, and psychonaut who has lived in the Bay Area for 35 years. He is the author of Noe: A Father/Son Song of Love, Life, Illness, and Death (North Atlantic Books, 2011). In the 1980s, he participated in clinical research with MDMA. He has written and had issued five patents for unique herbal medicines. Phil was a founding member of the Heffter Research Institute, and is a journalist and author of numerous articles on politics, transformation, psychedelics, consciousness, and spirit. He is also the editor of Consciousness Studies for Tikkun magazine.

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