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NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t

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FRESH AIR: Author Michael Pollan had always been curious about psychoactive plants, but his interest skyrocketed when he heard about a research study in which people with terminal cancer were given a psychedelic called psilocybin — the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms” — to help them deal with their distress. “This seemed like such a crazy idea that I began looking into it,” Pollan says. “Why should a drug from a mushroom help people deal with their mortality?” Pollan, whose previous books include The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense Of Food, started researching different experimental therapeutic uses of psychedelics, and found that the drugs were being used to treat depression, addiction and the fear of death. Then he decided to go one step further: A self-described “reluctant psychonaut,” Pollan enlisted guides to help him experiment with LSD, psilocybin and 5-MeO-DMT, a substance in the venom of the Sonoran Desert toad. Each of Pollan’s experiences with psychedelics was proceeded by Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 1.12.21 PMworry and self-doubt. But, he says, “I realized later that was my ego trying to convince me not to do this thing that was going to challenge my ego.” Pollan’s new book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, recounts his experiences with the drugs and also examines the history of psychedelics as well as their possible therapeutic uses. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: As a freshman at SUNY Buffalo, Terry Gross wanted to write. But she was worried she wasn’t good enough to be great, and she struggled to find a subject. At the same time, she was shedding her ‘‘good girl’’ identity. She tried being a hippie — ‘‘I was too inhibited to be very convincing at it. And too Sheepshead Bay, probably’’ — and she tried drugs. One of the first times she dropped LSD, she determinedly brought along paper and pen: ‘‘I’m going to have a subject,’’ she recalls thinking. ‘‘All of my writerly inhibitions are going to open up, and my talent is going to be released!’’ LSD didn’t help her writing, but for Gross it was a beneficially ‘‘immersive experience.’

In the first months after she graduated in 1972, Gross floundered. She had married, but would soon divorce; she was fired from a job teaching eighth grade after only six weeks (she couldn’t control the class). But then she discovered radio. One afternoon, about a year after she finished school, she was sitting in her house in Buffalo listening to ‘‘Womanpower,’’ a feminist program on WBFO, the university station. One of her roommates was a guest, and she came out as gay on the air. Gross was surprised by the revelation, but more so by the way her roommate had delivered it: sitting before a microphone in a radio studio. Gross, who had wanted to do ‘‘something in media’’ but hadn’t known how to begin, was intrigued. Through her roommate, she learned there was an opening on ‘‘Womanpower,’’ and Gross started on the show as a volunteer. MORE

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