Dr. Jeffrey Becker dives deep into a molecular understanding of spirituality and how we can use psychedelics as a tool for meaningful healing.
Dr. Jeffrey Becker is the Chief Scientific Officer for Bexson Biomedical. His appearance on the Professionally Psychedelics Podcast is a timely deep dive into the misty intersection of modern medicine and spirituality. Dr. Becker’s uniquely integrative approach to wellbeing combines neuro-nautical mysticism with a molecular understanding of consciousness. His teachings bear powerful insights into the meaning of healing, the therapeutic potential of psychedelic journeys, and why you should never travel without a guidebook.
A Molecular Understanding of Spirituality
Self-professed mystic Dr. Jeffrey Becker specialises in neuropsychiatry and functional medicine. His preoccupation with how the nature and scope of consciousness shape health and wellbeing led him to medical school, in a bid to better understand “how to help with healing, healing oneself, healing one’s community, healing patients… understanding what the mechanisms are that we can apply to help people relieve suffering.”
His integration of “body, mind and spirit” into the clinical framework emphasizes the importance of acknowledging the “interaction between the layers.” Therefore, a holistic approach to healing takes into account the biological, mental and spiritual development of the patient. For Dr. Becker, psychiatry is a practise of studying physical ailments and how they are connected to mental and spiritual pain. “As I moved into treating patients in psychiatry, I found that it was very necessary to be creative… and look down at the molecular in terms of vitamins and minerals and plant molecules…that can reduce the load on the brain free radical load.”
While he credits modern medicine for its effective management of pain in acute interventions such as surgeries and emergency treatments, he warns against the tendency of compartmentalising physical symptoms to the detriment of mental and spiritual factors. “Science can be reductive,” he admits. “I think what we’re not good at is helping patients orient towards the long-term solutions that can help them not fall back into those same patterns that caused the pain to begin with.”
The (Essential) Role of Pain in Healing
What does healing mean to you? For Dr. Becker, healing is not necessarily the absence of suffering. In fact, discomfort is often an essential part of the process. “Pain sometimes is not something that we should be extinguishing,” he explains. “The pain is actually a signal that there is hurt there.” His approach differs from the Western medical model’s focus on numbing pain with medication, which may not be an effective way of tackling the core reasons behind the patient’s suffering. Furthermore, Becker reminds us that extended use of medications can detrimentally alter brain chemistry. “Long-term use of medications is problematic at many levels,” he says.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, seeing suffering as a physical manifestation of a root cause can allow individuals to hear the body’s signals and address their root cause. “It’s very necessary to be thinking about a person’s long-term spiritual development and whether they’re making the right choices for themselves going forward, or whether we’re just numbing pain that would actually cause them to make the changes they need to grow and expand,” he explains. In this way, Dr. Becker sees psychedelics as an invaluable tool that can help patients confront their pain by dissolving mental barriers and re-framing it in a more helpful way.
Safe Psychedelic Travel: An Introduction
The psychedelic renaissance currently reverberating through the medical community and society at large is a welcome paradigm shift for Dr. Becker, who advocates for the responsible use of psychedelic medicines. Psychedelic-assisted therapies work by creating access to the key material that requires the patient’s attention, so it can be explored in a richer way. They are therapeutic tools that promote ego-dissolution and transcendence of physical circumstance, which can help individuals overcome mental blockages and make sense of difficult experiences. “They helped me heal, I’ve seen them heal other humans in my life, I’ve seen them heal other patients in my practise,” he explains.
“You wouldn’t go to Europe without a guidebook, so don’t even imagine that you’re going into psychic outer space without reading ahead of time about where you’re going and what the landscape looks like!”
— Dr. Jeffrey Becker, Chief Scientific Officer at Bexson Biomedical
Education and the exercise of agency are crucial in Becker’s framework for using psychedelics medicinally. “I don’t really feel that any given person can ever tell another person that they should do psychedelics,” he says, as he reminds us that traditional therapies are an “incredible toolbox” that can bring real healing. In his experience, the patients who benefit most from psychedelic therapy are those who engage proactively in the process. This means reading up on the psychedelic compounds, how they work and the potential risks and benefits. “You wouldn’t go to Europe without a guidebook,” he says only half-jokingly, “so don’t even imagine that you’re going into psychic outer space without reading ahead of time about where you’re going and what the landscape looks like!”
This research will empower patients to effectively decode the symbolism they uncover throughout the process, as well as equipping them with the tools to handle challenging experiences they may encounter. In lower doses, ketamine-assisted therapy can help people move through fear and see “over the hill and to the other side.” Meanwhile, higher doses promote a deep realignment of the self by dissolving the ego-defence structure, allowing patients to find “self-love and acceptance.” On the other hand, psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin function by showing the patients that their brain is “not in control of something that’s much larger than itself.”
Becker’s approach to psychedelic therapy is meticulously balanced between the tenets of neuroscience and acknowledgement of the logic-defying, awe-inspiring mysteries of the human experience. “In the best of circumstances,” he says, “have a foot on both sides of that line, so that you can walk down the middle and use those tools properly, but also not get lost and believe that the tool is the be-all and end-all of the process.”
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