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tv   Book Discussion  CSPAN  November 16, 2014 6:30pm-7:55pm EST

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tangent, what i've been thinking about recently is school segregation within new york city because new york state is the most segregated school system in the country, period. this isn't new news conferences news people don't talk about. if you go through academic journals and things there are reports that have new york state is the most segregated in the country. the fact that no one is talking about it is a bigger story than the segregation actually doesn't surprise me because i have two school age children but the fact that people are not talking about it is the bigger point because it is too difficult. it's not even too difficult a choice, it is easier to say that you care about something than to actually care about it and challenge yourself. >> tom recounts the creation of
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psychedelic drugs specifically of us to be and ecstasy and they use in the field of mental health care. the author recalls the early testing of the drugs, the leisure recreational use and the subsequent fan. he reports that today there is a reconsideration of psychedelic drugs to treat posttraumatic stress disorder, ptsd, anxiety and addictions. this is about an hour and a half. >> good evening and welcome it as a pusher to see you all here this evening and it's a particular pleasure for me to welcome our guest of honor and speaker john schroeder shroder. it's part of a particular. it was centered around at the miami herald in particular the
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magazine where tom was one of the principal editors. this is a moment and i know that we all succumb to the temptation that the older we get the better that we were but this was a moment where they had the likes of paul and elmore leonard and it was a moment of creativity and kind of daring editorial daring and it was a pleasure to be part of that at least to be able to watch that and he went on to win prizes the prizes at the post and tom schroeder. i was involved and invited to sit at the table but i could admire them from afar. they held the topic a few years later which is a reminder to the younger people here that the newspaper industry was in advanced distributed before the digital revolution finished them
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off. and they went on to write the books and he won his pivot surprise, nobel prize, i lost track. and jean anton shroder went to the "washington post" and continued to work their magic. as an editor he conceived and managed to feature series including fatal distraction to the devastating story about the aftermath of the horribly tragic instances when people leave small children in cars and they died because of heat. tom went on to launch a comic strip and then the best-selling book overwhelmed work load and play when nobody has the time. and the author of his own right he wrote the untold story of the gulf oil disaster, his work the hunt for bin laden by the
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"washington post" became the number one selling single on amazon. he also wrote an extraordinary book. it sounds like an unlikely subject and a sort of goofy subject by the memories and the personalities and individuals that are deceased. tom is here to talk about his latest book that chronicles the attempt to and acceptance of that we face in the posttraumatic stress. it's a tremendous pleasure to
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have tom here tonight and i introduced him to you now. [applause] >> very nice introduction. thank you all. we know who the people are that came out to talk about drugs after school. i'm here writing about this because a man named albert hoffman in 1945 stumbled onto one of the most remarkable discoveries in history and here's an interesting story because when he was a swiss citizen, and as a child, he remembered having the sort of remarkable and a spontaneous experiences. and let me just read what he had
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to say about this. you know, one day when he was 12-years-old, he was walking through a path in the forest and he said all that once everything appeared in an uncommonly clear light. this is something i simply failed to notice before, but they suddenly discovering the force that actually looked, it shines the most beautiful radiance to the heart as the witch wanted to encompass me in its majesty. i was filled with an indescribable sensation of joy and bliss .-full-stop to be. i became convinced of the arduous powerful and unfathomable reality. i was often troubled in those days knowing that i wasn't cut out to be a poet or artist i assumed i would have to keep these experiences to myself as input as they were. so, one of the great and little known ironies of history is that instead of becoming a scientist so that he could express this an affordable experience that he had, he became a scientist and
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chemist and this is when he was working in these poorly ventilated labs with all sorts of chemicals etc. and it was about as far from being a puppet as you could possibly be. but instead of learning how to describe these experiences he stumbled on a substance, anyone that it might have one of these experiences themselves. what happened is he was working with a substance, basically this was a chemical in a swiss company. and i may use that came from a fungus unbeknownst to people for hundreds of years it had been
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killing tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands or even millions of people during the middle ages and they didn't even know it. what happened is that it would be harvested and then it would get tainted with this fungus and it would cause convulsions, hallucinations, body parts would turn black and actually followed them, and eventually people would die from it and for years they didn't have any idea what was going on until they discovered that it was from this fungus and somehow natural hubris of the time discovered that even though it could be deadly, if you used it in childbirth it could hasten the contractions come he's in childbirth and stop the bleeding afterwards. so, for generations this had been used in childbirth and so from his boss he began to
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experience as discovered the basic molecule that the active parts were based on so his job when he got there was to start experimenting with this acid and he started playing god is actually and combine it with different chemicals. he did a 24 of these things and he found some useful compounds. then he did the 25th one and is combined with a dry form of ammonia so he had the acid and the german word for acid begins with an s..
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so what he had was lsd and it was the 25th compound that he tried so this was lsd 25 and he synthesized this and the guise of the lab were not impressed. it did have some kind of a constriction of blood vessels but not as good as some of the other compound. they didn't find anything else that attracted them and they only noted in the lab to the animals that they gave it to display a sort of odd resting for a few hours after they'd given them. so they said it's no big deal yet somehow he couldn't stop thinking about lsd 25.
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as it was in the back of his mind they thought they must have missed something so five years later and this was in 1945 -- i'm sorry 1943, he decided that he was going to be synthesized this compound that basically tossed and he started to do it and as he was working on it, he had a really odd feeling. he started to feel like he needed to lie down and he had to go home and he laid down on his couch and he started to close his eyes and he started to see these incredible colors and patterns and this lasted for most of the afternoon. and then it faded. scum he went back to the lab and he thought what was this and he couldn't believe that it was the lsd 25 because he has been really careful with it and the
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only exposure that he could have possibly had was a very minute amount of the substance from his fingertips into the amount he could have absorbed would have been, you know like 100 fold less than the active dose of any kind of psychoactive chemical that was none. so he didn't think it could be that since you started sniffing the from outside with no such similar effect in after he eliminated all other possibilities can he decided maybe it was the lsd 25. he was able to write one sentence in the notes before he could no longer write. and this was during the middle of a war. so no cars were available so they had to take him back on a bicycle back to his house he
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felt like he wasn't moving at all but in richard speck they made good time but this i don't know whether anybody in the room might have some insight into this business have been an extraordinarily adventurous bicycle ride. he didn't know what he had done but he knew that it was affecting him big-time. so he got really frightened that he had maybe poisoned himself and maybe he was going to die or maybe he was going to go crazy. and he would discover later that this was a very interesting property of the experience of taking the lsd 25. later they would call that the setting of the expectation and the environment that you were in when you were taking it could really make a completely
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transform the experience depending on whether it was positive or negative and comfortable or uncomfortable etc. or you you do so, he was practically in the worst possible situation because he had no idea what this was going to do. he believed that maybe he'd taken a fatal dose and he was in extreme anxiety. and so for a long time he thought maybe he would never regain sanity that he was losing his mind that but a doctor came to visit him when he was in the middle of this and he was completely normal. his blood pressure is elevated but aside from that nothing was going on. he got through this and was able to explain his experience to everybody and the next morning he felt remarkably fresh and the world seemed clean and new to
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him so he knew that he made a remarkable discovery and he went and he told his boss that had absolutely not the leave the little enough that he took could possibly have affected him that way. he decided the first thought is this mimic psychosis. that might be useful because psychosis was just in a story of a mysterious and difficult to treat devastating disease. so if this created a temporary psychosis they thought maybe this will give psychiatrists in sight to the disease to let them know how the patients all the world and maybe that could help them so they started sending
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this out to the labs and a psychiatrists and research scientists over the world. they had an interesting experience and i'm going to read what he said about it. i couldn't be beat how much i learned about my psyche in those few hours. the intensity of the array of emotions amazed me. i was hit by the radiance that seemed comparable to the nuclear explosion or perhaps the light of the brilliance said to appear to us at the moment of death. although the lsd lasted only a few hours and the most significant part only about ten minutes, it resulted in a profound and a personal transformation and spiritual awakening.
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so, now we have gone from mimicking psychosis to a mystical and a religious experiment that resulted in a conversion experience basically. he had studied psychoanalysts and it was a brilliant theory and a very absorbing to study but the reality was that when people got into the psychoanalyst is, they would go for years and years and nothing would happen. they wouldn't get better. they wouldn't change their destructive behaviors and he was so frustrated that he was thinking of becoming an animator to make animated films. then he had this experience and it completely changed his idea of what he wanted to do because he felt was the tool that could
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not sort of treat symptoms of mental illness, but it could help the patient transcend the mental illness itself and actually change all these things that no method known had been able to change. so he began to experiment with this with people with psychiatric problems and he did thousands of patients with tremendous success and he noticed a pattern and he felt that what was happening was that -- and what he did as he gave the patients a series of lsd sessions and he under under understood the need to have them in a comfortable and a safe environment with a therapist right there with him and what he discovered was that each experience at exactly the kind of subconscious issues that were at the root of their problems
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with began spontaneously emerge. and these were people that were maybe repressing these things and that would never be able to talk about them under normal circumstances. but suddenly just the exact issues that needed to be sort of gotten at spontaneously emerged and not only that, but the defenses of the patient would be diminished and the insights would be greater. and he was having a tremendous success with this and he wasn't the only one. by the mid-50s researchers have experimented with lsd during therapy for various narrow seas, depression, psychosomatic illness and emotional physical trauma of all kinds. there have been scores of trials including hundreds of patients. and most reported positive results. in 1954 for example, psychiatrists at an english hospital set aside an entire war
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for conducting lsd therapy for patients that have severe chronic treatment resistant mental illness. a two thirds of them either recovered or improved after six months and they concluded it appears to be of the utmost value and as the longtime necessary for long time necessary for the full psychological analysis. in 1958 and an analysis of scores of trials came to these conclusions. the lessons of defensiveness, number two, the heightened capacity to relive the early experiences with the accompanying release of feelings come a therapist patient relationships are enhanced and number four brothers and grease appearance of unconscious material. so, then they said this unique property cannot be masked by any
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other method or tool available in the mainstream psychiatry and psychology. in addition it offers unique opportunities for the feeling of emotional and psychosomatic disorders are positive personality transformation into consciousness. as a commodity 1950 as the mid- 1960s there were more than a thousand clinical trials and clinical papers discussing 40,000 patients. several dozen books and six international conferences on the psychedelic drug therapy. in 1960, the physician named stanley cohen surveyed the results of the 44 positions who conducted the drug tribals using 25,000 doses of lsd under the varying conditions and he felt no instance of serious or prolonged side effects or any evidence of the potential. 25 sessions were in the literature on the psychedelic
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drug studies. he did find adverse psychological reactions but he said they were rare and mostly related to people that had a pre-existing mental bonuses. and he concluded considering the scope of the psychedelic responses that it induces can induces the lsd is an astonishingly safe drug. then again, in 1963, there was a global review of all the psychedelic therapy studies and concluded to some spectacular almost unbelievable results have been achieved by using just one dose of the drug. so, we are in a situation here where by the early 1960s a revolution of psychiatry was underway and there were therapist so over the world that were using this was a great success.
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the treatment of alcoholism was so successful in canada but the canadian government changed from saying it was an experimental treatment to say that tuesday that it was a proven treatment. okay. and then the cia got involved. and the u.s. military. and they have actually been experiencing even before the discovery of lsd. and the nazis decided that it might be a good idea to give this to people before they tortured them and then to maybe see what, you know, whether they could get more out of them. and they had a very have very conflicting results. some people said that it didn't work at all and other people said those that knew what they were doing could list of most anything from people under the influence.
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the cia began to experiment and they did so as they actually have a brothel in san francisco where they would tour the -- unsuspecting with lsd and what happens. giving someone off the expected as one of the most dangerous situations you can have because again, the big with the immediate danger of lsd is an anxiety reaction. that is going to build on itself and this actually resulted in some suicides although many of the suicides attributed to lsd in those days were not actually the fault of lsd that that there
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actually were some people who killed themselves because they feared that they were permanently crazy. and in addition they were funding of these studies secretly, and the studies were poorly audited and basically they were pumping a lot of lsd into the culture and a lot of people were getting this experience. and most people were not having negative experiences they were having positive experiences. they were having the experience that some of them like the canadian researcher that was doing the alcohol studies took it himself many times. his name is humphrey osmond and in the premise it was merely a window into the mental illness and what he ended up thinking is for myself my experience had
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been the most strange, most awesome and most beautiful thing in the unfortunate life. they are not escapes from the burgeoning is up to was up to reality. and humphrey osmond is the man who introduced all and huxley had a similar experience and wrote about it in the perception that introduced this idea to the white culture. one of the recipients of the lsd -- the cia lsd had a result of can you pass the acid test in the bay area basically filled kool-aid coolers full of kool-aid and lsd and had these
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gigantic parties with uncontrolled and unscreened usages of lsd and all sorts of wild stuff happening. and another person who ended up with some of the cia acid. he was the grandson of a u.s. senator and he decided that lsd presented such an amazing visit of how we all were connected. but that would bring about world peace. but he was a student at an institution, to get this correct, berkeley, the university of california berkeley. and he was a chemistry major. he hooked up with the major probably bitterly and figuratively named melissa and they spent three weeks at the
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berkeley library and taught themselves how to synthesize lsd 25 and then they went to work at his first was 3600 colored capsules and he passed them from hand to hand in a sort of growing brahimi and community -- very and that was in the spring of 1965 and that was the first of millions of troops that he was directly responsible for. between he and huxley, lsd exploded into the culture. he had interesting perspective. he said i never set out to turn on the world. it's been claimed by many. i wanted to know the purity of what i put into my own body almost before i realized what was happening and the whole affair got out of hand. i was writing was writing a magic stallion, a pegasus.
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so, this hits like a bomb and as the culture became aware of this, the reaction was hysterical and it was incredibly rapid. just to give you an example, the man that i talked about at the psychiatrics who became a psychiatrist did more psychedelic therapy than any human alive and he's still alive he would become a research director at the maryland psychiatric research center at the university of maryland, and this was in 1967, so at that date the revolution based on the psychedelic drugs was throwing the pace and he had no idea what was going to happen even at that
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late date and here's what he writes about that. at the time of my departure in 1967, lsd was manufactured in czechoslovakia in the official pharmacopeia as a therapeutic agent with such reputable drugs as penicillin, antibiotics, insulin. lsd was available to qualified professionals into the general public knew very little about psychedelic drugs and the reports concerning research with such substances were published almost exclusively in the scientific journals. there was no black-market traffic and no medical use of them. anybody interested could have an lsd session provided that it was conducted by an approved professional and a medical facility. the situation i found when i arrived in the united states contrasted sharply black market lsd seemed readily available in all parts of the country and for all age groups from the self
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experimentation with spores on university campuses and many large cities had their hippie districts with the distinct ultras and they seem to be making the new headline. almost every day they could read sensationalistic reports and psychotic breakdowns and suicide and burgers. this was -- this kind of atmosphere led to an extreme. in the halls of power, and in the congress sydney who said that lsd was a remarkably safe drug when it was used under laboratory conditions testified to congress and said we have seen something which is more alarming than death death in a way that is the loss of all cultural values, the loss of the feeling of right and wrong, good and bad. they lead a valueless life without motivation or ambition they are lost to society and lost to themselves. and that was the prevailing view
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among the authorities. .. >> i think we have given too much emphasis and so much attention to the fact that it can be dangerous and that it can hurt an individual who uses it that perhaps to some extent we have lost sight of the fact that it can be very, very helpful in our
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society if used properly. fda interference with so promising a drug as lsd is ill advised. so he lost, of course, he was sort of a lone voice in the wilderness. and lsd was put on schedule i which is the same sort of level of prohibition as heroin. and it's, it was declared to have no medical use, and what they managed to do was completely shut down all research into the possible benefits of uses of psychedelic drugs in general, and also what they didn't manage to do was put a dent in the illicit use of lsd. so remarkably, in their attempts to stop the illicit use, they shut down all legitimate research, and for 30 years as it would turn out, and illicit use just went along its merry way.
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so anyway, that's, that's sort of the background to "acid test." and really what "acid test" is, it's about the very unlikely way in which we came from that point to the point now where there are a i growing number of -- a growing number of fda clinical trials using psychedelic drugs to deal with a whole range of psychiatric problems from autism to alcoholism to smoking addiction, and most notably as i'll get to later, post traumatic stress disorder. so i, basically, what the book does is it follows three people and the arcs of their lives knit together kind of tell this whole rather incredible story of how this came to be against
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tremendous odds. and my involvement in this is kind of odd. in 1975 i was a student journalist at the university of florida. that's me with hair. [laughter] and i was editor of the college newspaper. but i lived in sarasota, florida, and i went down there on breaks all the time. and i was down in sarasota, and i noticed -- i don't remember exactly whether i, like, happened on this by just wandering around town or whether i saw like possibly a small blurb in the local newspaper about this hippie who's, like, out in the woods building with his own hand this really fantastic house. and he had this pet wolf. so i go out there, and i write this story. about him for the newspaper supplement at the university of
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florida, the student newspaper supplement. and, you know, the story doesn't directly mention psychedelic drugs, but he had this -- here's the cover. but you can see this very psychedelic-looking stained glass window in the background. and, basically, he was talking about that this house meant to sort of express in a concrete way all these principles that he learned, you know, about not following in other people's ruts just because they were there, but in like finding your true self and exploring, you know, and doing things with quality and for the purpose, for the value of doing it itself and all these things that were floating around in a certain subculture in those days. that, basically, was trying to put psychedelic principles into use or integrating them into ordinary life. and i had had, i had some
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interest in that. i don't know how many of you have ever been in gainesville, florida, but it's a college town surrounded by cow pastures. and the interesting feature of these cow pastures is that there's cow shit in the cow pastures, and in that cow shit grows mushrooms. so it was quite possible to wander out on campus, and in an afternoon pluck a bunch of mushrooms and dose yourself with them and have an experience. well, some people did it for recreation. i never understood that. but i and the people i knew were doing it very intentionally because we thought it was revelatory, that we'd learn stuff from doing it. and one experience i had always stuck in my mind. i was, as the mushrooms started to take effect, i started to feel, you know, very acutely all
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these anxieties and fears that had been kind of rumbling around my head forever, and some of them were about things that were happening that day, you know, interrelationships i was having, and some of them were long-term fears about life in general. and the more i became sort of into the drug experience, the heavier all these anxieties and feelings seemed. and i started to have this vision of this, like, boulder that was, like, almost making it impossible for me to breathe. this incredible weight on me. and as i was feeling that and feeling incredibly oppressed by it, i also saw -- and, you know, the thing about the experience was it wasn't like an intellectual concept. it was like i really saw and felt these things as real things. and i saw that this incredible weight that was making it, really making me struggle for
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breath, that i was actually hauling this boulder with my arms to my chest. and it just hit me in an instant that all i had to do was open my arms, and that boulder would fall away. and so that's what i did. and all these fears and anxieties justice appeared like a soap bubble popping. and, you know, there's some experiences that people talk about in these kind of altered states that they wake up and they go can, what? i mean, a friend of mine once had a gigantic insight, and he wrote down on a piece of paper so he would remember the next day, and he woke up the next day and looked at the piece of paper, and it said "everything is something." [laughter] so i think at the time that was incredibly profound, but, you know, a lot of these things are ineffable. but this was something that made -- i still understood it not only the next day, but for
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the rest of my life. and i went on, and i, you know, i left college, i stopped doing psychedelic drugs because i had a family, i got a professional career, it was still illegal. you know, i couldn't risk those things, and there were still dangers involved with it. both legal ones and, you know, for all i knew psychological and physical ones. so i stopped doing it. but i always remembered that experience, among others. and, in fact, i tried to practice doing that, and i learned it wasn't easy, and it never -- it still isn't easy. but as i tried -- the fact that i was aware that that was a reality for me, that you basically to some degree chose to feel negative feelings, that it was a decision you made for various reasons like maybe to avoid responsibility or to, you know, to just feel sorry for yourself and that all you had to do was choose not to feel them,
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and you didn't have are to. and it was like a muscle that i learned to develop. so i was aware that there seemed to be some lasting value to these experiences. so then i went on, and i became -- as ed told you -- i i became the editor of "traffic" magazine. and i was looking at a tampa area newspaper, and there was a story about this sort of perpetual college student who had decided that a new sort of, quote, designer psychedelic drug calls mvma was the key to psychotherapy. this was going to revolutionize psychotherapy. this was in 1985, and i was reading the story, and i looked at the name, and it rang a bell. the name was rick doblin. it was the same guy that i had seen in the woods building this house. oops. so that's me in 1985, the editor of "traffic" magazine.
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and that is the cover story that we did on him. and it says "the selling of ecstasy" on the cover, and inside, the headline was "a tim leery for the '80s." so then another 20 years or so passes by, and now i'm the editor of the washington post magazine, and i see a story in the "new york times." and there's a little article that was about the first psychedelic research done at harvard university since tim leary was basically ridden out on a rail. and as i'm reading this, there's an organization that's sponsoring this research that sort of brought it to harvard, and harvard approved it. and the founder and director of this organization was a man named rick doblin. same guy. and that's me in 2007, and and that's rick. [laughter] and so i said, okay, this time
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i'm doing the story myself. and i called him up, and not only did he remember me, he had on his desk in front of him both those stories i just showed you. and the reason he did that was because he had just had a meeting with his board of directors, and he was trying to impress upon them how far his image had come from this wild man hippie to this guy who was able to do business some of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world. and in the study at harvard, it was going to be, to use mdma to help people who were suffering from extreme end of life anxiety. some people with terminal cancer, you know? and i think they chose that because, partly because in the old days during the days of psychedelic therapy, they did use it for that. but also because, you know, be
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somebody was terminal, it was hard to argue that the long-term risks to their health were something that were a deal breaker. although they did, indeed, argue that at some point. but, so there -- and so i went up there, and i started interviewing the people involved with the study, and it was all fascinating. and they were starting to recruit subjects for it. and then mclean hospital, harvard's psychiatric hospital, changed directions and there was a new president. and that president took one look at this on his desk and said we don't want to have anything to do with this guy. and so that kind of -- i mean, actually, they found a way to get the donor to give the money directly to the hospital, but it never really recovered from. that so the stigma was still operating even though he'd gotten, you know, that far. but, however, there was a study going on in charleston, south
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carolina, at the same time, also sponsored by his organization which what's called the mobley disciplinary association for psychedelic studies which is basically the most boring name you can possibly have with the word with psychedelic in it. there was an emergency room doctor who decided he didn't want to treat the end result of mental illness which was knife wounds and suicide attempts, he wanted to try to get in at the opening act and to prevent these things, and he didn't want to just stick tracheal tubes down their throats, he wanted to have a more collaborative relationship with them. so he became a psychiatrist. and he had his own, i mean, i talk about this in the book, i don't think i have time to go into it here, but he had his own experiences with -- positive
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experiences -- with psychedelics. as i describe, similar ones. so he had an interest in healing, in the -- and he'd read stan groff's book, and the whole point was that it was the altered state itself which aided in the healing and that people had known this in various cultures for thousands of years, and that's why psychedelic drugs had been used in personal growth, spiritual growth and in healing for, you know, thousands of years. so he even went as far as to go down to peru and to enter into a bunch of these shamanistic rituals from a drug which comes from a rain forest vine. very intense experience. and i liked -- he told a funny story about getting there. they had to, like, you know, fly in, take a big dugout canoe up
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the river, get into a smaller little canoe and go up a smaller river, then get out and drag it, then get out and walk through the jungle, and he knew that he was going to have to do this jungle walk before he went. and so they asked the guy in the town, should we buy some rubber boots, you know, to protect ourselves against snakes. and the guy said, well, you could, but, you know, actually the real danger of snakes are up in the trees, and the danger is they'll drop down on you, and you'll be dead in minutes. so he said that was a really wonderful lesson in focusing your attention as they walked through the jungle to these ceremonies. but anyway, he had teamed up with rick. and how this all happened is really what's going on in this book. he teamed up with rick and decided that they were going to try to do this for the first time here since mdma was made illegal in 1985 because it
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hadn't really been invented when lsd was put on schedule i. so they'd been trying for -- and rick doblin is an amazing guy. and when he knew that they were going to make mdma illegal and, basically, here's this guy who's a college dropout who somehow managed to invent himself as the leader of this, of this psychedelic psychotherapy movement. and he, what he did was he started deciding that he would send out packages of mdma while it was still legal with all these big name religious figures. and they did it. and they said things, like "newsweek" quoted one of them as saying, you know, this is a monk. he said this is what happens after 20 years of meditation, it's what happens in an afternoon with mdma. this was quoted in "newsweek" from a world famous rabbi. so anyway, through tremendous
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odds and everything, they got these trials going. and the third character in the book is a marine named nuk las blackstone. nicklaus blackstone. and, you know, he decided he was going to join the marines when he was 16. he actually went many at 18. went in at 18. you know, within months he was in iraq and handling the 50 caliber machine gun in the turret of a humvee, and he had to do things like, you know, he thought he was going to go there and deal with these profession algae haddists. and -- professional jihadists, and instead or there are kids spraying machine guns at him, and he has no choice but to blow them away with bullets that can knock down walls. so he has that experience. he sees his, a truck right next to him get blown up, and he has to -- he can't get any close to
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it because it's burning up, and he has to watch his friends burn to death inside. his own truck gets blown, he gets pretty badly injured and is in the middle of this horrible fire fight and can't go to the aid of his best friend who is bleeding to death from a piece of shrapnel that went through his femoral artery. and there's this moment that he described that i have in the book where he's, he doesn't really realize what's going on until he's looking down after this fire fight is finally over, and he's looking down from his turret, and he's like seeing his reflection in the front seat, and it doesn't make any sense to him. and then he realizes that he's looking at his face in the pool of his friend's blood. so these kind of experiences torment him. and he comes back, and, you know, he said he couldn't ever -- he came home, but he
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couldn't ever really leave iraq because every time he fell asleep, there iraq would be, and he'd feel bullets going through his brain, and people would be shooting hpgs at him, and he would, like, wake up screaming, and he'd wake up and ordering his wife to put her hands up, his fiancee at this point. and it was, he just felt -- and he, you know, he did all the v.a. stuff, he took all the medicines, and it only made matters worse. and he really felt there was no hope. and he got to the point where he would take -- he'd go sit on his bed and take a service revolver and put the barrel to his brain and just imagine that he could get rid of all this hot mess in his head just by a simple twitch of his finger. and he came very close to doing it, and he knew he would eventually do that, and he was desperate. and that's when he came upon a notice of this study that they were going to do, use mdma
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therapy to treat ptsd. and this is an image, an amazing picture that his friend took when he was in iraq. and so, so he became, he went into this thing. and, basically, the climax of the book is this therapy session that he took under the influence of mdma with michael and michael's wife annie sitting beside him and, basically, letting the mdma direct the session. that's one of the principles, you know, going back to what groff said about how the material just naturally arose. and, you know, i won't completely tell you the result of what happened. i mean, the sessions were incredibly moving and dramatic to me. you know, what i had was i had, like, you know, 60 hours of videotaped sessions. so it was like, you know, i was able to be a fly on the wall in
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those sessions. and they were really quite remarkable. and i won't tell you exactly how it turns out, but this is nick today. showing for my book. and looking very cool, i think. kind of looking like i did in 1975. [laughter] and so -- and the thing is, though, that now that there's -- the trial that he, there was a trial before him that michael did, the first one that i wrote about, that was mostly women who had ptsd as a result of rape or sexual abuse. and they measure the clinical markers of ptsd using, you know, the state of the art test. and then they measure him again after the therapy, then two months after the therapy and then a year after, and then in
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this case they did it an average of three and a half years later, really long term. and 80% of the people involved, 83% of the people involved in this therapy had long-term, lasting remission or elimination of their ptsd. none of them in that 80% would even have been diagnosed with ptsd after just three of these sessions which is, you know, so unlike any of the other treatments for ptsd they're doing. and by the v.a.'s own calculations, up to 20% of the 2.5 million soldiers returning from iraq and afghanistan, they're coming home with ptsd. and if you do the math, that's half a million people. not to mention the fact that the people who got ptsd in vietnam still have it. and, in fact, they're costing the v.a. more in disability and health care now than they were
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immediately after they came home. so that's what we have to look forward to, and this harvard economist calculated that, basically, between disability and health care that we owe just the people with ptsd. and this is forgetting the 22 suicides every single day of veterans, that it would cost us a trillion dollars over the next 30 years. so given all that, you would think that the pentagon and the v.a. who have enough spare change in their couch cushions to get this research on the fast track and the fda which has the power to declare this an urgent need and put it in an expedited thing, that that would be happening. but it's not happening. and, in fact, there's tremendous resistance. you know, just to give you an idea, when i submitted requests to pentagon to talk to somebody
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there about the book, i got bounced around from department to department and then from service to service and then, finally, they simply stopped -- they gave me the run around, and they started saying, well, you know, nobody here ever had that discussion when i knew for a fact that they had. and then, ultimately, they just stopped talking to me altogether. and when i'm going on the diane rehm show on october 2nd and they asked me if, you know, i could get somebody from the pentagon, and i tried my contacts from there, and i got this note back from this very highly placed military officer that, what he said was it's just too dangerous for folks in the uniform. and i'm thinking, it's too dangerous?sing this promising therapy is too dangerous? you know, what's dangerous is letting half a million untreated victim is of ptsd go through their lives without any solution. so to me, that's just like the
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worst kind of cowardice. and in m.a.p.s., the organization run by rick doblin, they're funding -- they're on phase ii now. phase iii is where you have dozens of locations and hundreds of patients, and it costs tens of millions of dollars. and they're funding that. they're, like, having indie go go campaigns. they're raising $50, $100,000, you know? which is just so maddening to me. but at that rate, you know, rick is very optimistic, as always, and he projects that maybe it'll be a prescription treatment in accept years. in seven years. but everything he's ever said has been at least taken twice as long as he thought it was going to take. and, you know, do we really want to -- if this really works, do we really want to wait 14 or 15 years for it to come online for people to have access to? so that's, that's the book, and i think i'll stop now and take
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questions if anybody has any. yeah, do you -- do we need a microphone here for questions? [applause] >> um, can you elaborate a little bit more on the resistance? who is -- beyond the pentagon, who else is resisting -- >> well, i mean, it's sort of a, you know, ever since the 1960s this was a radioactive issue, you know? it was conflated with the generational and cultural division that happened at that time around the vietnam war and resistance to the war and the idea, the larger idea that there was something basically wrong with our society. that was the '60s idea, that our society was messed up and needed to completely transform
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itself. and that was a very threatening idea to the people in power and in authority. and it was more than just that, also, it was the nature of the psychedelic experience, to be honest with you. the idea, you know, western culture is kind of founded on this member nistic, materialistic -- member nistic idea that the world was a bunch of billiard balls colliding and going off at whatever angles their speed and direction would take them. and that people and objects, people and objects were separate, and individual actors. and the psychedelic experience tends to give people this different idea that things are connected in ways that are much more complicated and interwoven than that. and it sort of attacks this rationalist bias in our culture.
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and that's why, you know, people freaked out about it. and more than, i mean, so many drugs are so much more dangerous than -- can i mean, here's an example. they were doing, just when michael was trying to get his study off the ground, he was making progress, and then research came out with this new thing saying m, the ma was horribly dangerous to the point where it was killing the test animals, killing a large percentage of the test animals. and this, you know, rick, of course, had known the whole rave scene where people were taking mdma in uncontrolled situations, and there were some bad results, but, you know, 25% of the apes were dying? you know? the deaths from mda were incredibly rare, and the results of really sort of extremely negative conditions. is they knew that something was
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wrong with this. but it effectively delayed their study for two years. two years later the person who did that study issued a retraction, and the drug that he had used, the drug vials he had used that were labeled as mdma were actually methamphetamine, not mdma. and methamphetamine was this dangerous, deadly drug and, of course, the great irony of that is that methamphetamine is a transcription drug. ..
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does that sound like a solid technology and not to mention it is invasive and has permanent effects. so it's really about the psychedelic experience just threatening to a certain part of our culture. is it true that it can only be treated effectively for these?
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the people that have this protocol says that they only will pay people with extreme ratings of ptsd on this diagnostic scale. people that tried other therapies and have not benefited from them, so the only people that take the treatment resistant. there is some other kind of therapy and people get a better without using psychedelic drugs. but there are a lot of people who don't get better and a lot of people who can't going to the cognitive behavioral therapy because probing around that is so painful that it sends them into a sort of shock reaction that provokes all the symptoms and makes them worse. so, of course there are other treatments but this is these results hold up this would probably be the most effective treatment or at least one of the
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most what a deal with certain people who can't benefit from any of the other treatments. >> before they started working with lsd that they were invariably are overwhelmingly -- it was the most expensive and unproductive loop for a lot of people. >> it was certainly expensive and for all the people that was unproductive and across view. after the hearings when lsd was rendered a section one illicit drug weren't there in number of prominent psychiatrists into
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psychotherapists testifying to the beneficial use? >> yes, rick was behind that. that was much of the story of my book. lsd has just been made illegal. they knew that it was going to happen. she discovered the psychotherapeutic possibilities and also was a berkeley professor and experiment with this and had this experience that made him think this is the incredible and psychotherapy they had been treating people with psychedelics. and he continued on until his death and some estimates he
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convinced 10,000 practitioners to use it. you have to say this drug has no known medical purpose. they've been treating people with it and there were doctors and scientists around the country who testified so we've kind of organized this and got this altogether and they sued the fda when they tried to do the schedule in 1985 there were
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hearings before the administrative court judge in the cities around the country and at the end of that year the administrative court judge ruled down the line in favor of the plaintiff that, you know, they do have accepted medical use because that is defined by doctors and not by the fda. and it isn't dangerous when it is used in the clinical conditions. it would be in the research and basically said it's our football and we are going home. it just ignored the administrative judge. the court also ruled that the dea was an error saying that there was no accepted medical use. and i'm sorry that the va
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basically changed their definition and somehow then that was the end of it. and what happened then most of the people involved said that's it, the game is over. we are going to drop this. some of them went underground and continue to do continued to do a legal therapy but he said no we are going to fight this battle in the science and he basically taught himself how to do the science and then he decided well that wasn't going to work so he ended up going to the harvard kennedy school and getting a phd in public policy because he wanted to get inside of the fda and understand how they thought and in fact he was part of this thing called the presidential fellowship which was the fast-track people in government. he almost got a job at the fda.
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they wanted to give him a job and then they found out about it and decided no dumb and not this guy. so he went back and he spent 15 years until finally they got the first study. so that is basically the arc of what happened. >> it's interesting how both the power of suggestion can impact negatively on the use of these drugs therapeutically as well as the impact upon somebody using it without a professional overseeing it. want to go wanted to when i was a graduate student i took acid plenty of times and my girlfriend had taken it about twice that. and on the second to last occasion she saw her own death and we had to go in to stop using it. basically, she had a bad trip because she had read all of these negative accounts that were sensational in the paper, but i have always thought that
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under professional care that is less likely to have been. >> exactly. what he says is if you were in a therapeutic situation and have a chance to experience your own death, do it as it is actually becoming a rebirth. and that's the point of these negative experiences with professional guidance. somebody that is in a reassuring environment encouraged to work with it and people that know what they are doing, that can actually -- and its pivotal the people that sold experiment are running the risk with severely dangerous reactions that can get out of hand. so i ordered you all not to experiment on yourself.
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>> my question is between we talked a lot about the current state-of-the-art on the research and policy in the u.s. and under our under a luckier in the united states and i know that there is a fair amount of similar research going on in other parts of the world come and there are also people who are seeking this sort of thing for instant they will go to canada because that's a heroin recovery or something else in mexico. could you speak to the international state? >> it's going on internationally. and one is more actual clinical trials. and maps is behind many of them. they are sponsoring the studies in half a dozen countries around the world. and they've tried and others, they even tried in saudi arabia
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and they actually got pretty far. and then it crashed and burned because of their treatments bottle which involved both having a man and a woman president and present and that didn't work in saudi arabia. and then the religious uses of the substances both in the native american church and where it is legal to be used and there've been court cases about that and people do go down there to have that kind of experience, so that happens as well. >> i wrote a book called the harvard psychedelics club which had another biography of the four guys that came together in 1960 he was responsible for the
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backlash. when i was doing my work on that i had an idea that it would be a great idea for this new wave of psychedelic drug research and i've been putting it off and putting it off. >> they're still like to be another book about this larger new ways of not just scientific research with spiritual exploration. >> i do still deal with that and it connects. what we give you an example at johns hopkins university there's a man who you probably know the name and he came to psychedelic research through his interest in
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meditation and he achieved this through meditating and he had a background in testing drugs to find out how addictive they were they had all sorts of interesting things with, you know, both apes and humans to see how much work they were willing. people rely on surveys for what they wanted to do was see how much so that was his professional specialty than in his personal life, he was fascinated by his study of meditation and these amazing states that it brought him into. so it had occurred to him at some point that it could bring his personal and professional interest together by studying whether this spiritual state claimed to be purchased by
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psychedelics and how that related to the state that he got through the meditation. so he did one of the early studies at johns hopkins where they gave healthy people the magic mushroom active magic mushroom active ingredient, and then they gave them a survey afterwards on the mystical experiences and he said people came in and they would ask him what did you think of the experience and they would say it's big and he would say what you mean it's big and he would say it's one of the 70% in the study it was one of the five most significant experiences of their lives. these are healthy people that have never done psychedelics before. they were, you know, one of the things to correct is that they were achievers, they were professional types and she said you don't hear that.
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he said it completely blew his mind. 30% said that it was the single most significant experience of their lives. so that's his real interest and to get money they have to start had to start using it to treat something. so they did and they just reported it like a week or so ago. they had an 80% success rate after six months and this wasn't from people telling them, this was the breathalyzer and the whole blood chemistry thing. six months, 80% tobacco free and the best treatment otherwise being used now was 35% said this was tremendous stuff. >> my question was actually how
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much did you find on the publishers in this area. that is what i was going to ask you because i'm thinking about pitching a book myself on another aspect of this. >> you might try my publishers because they have been incredible and they got it right away. you know, i basically sold this book on a memo, not a big book proposal. >> okay. thank you. let me just say getting around in a long-winded way to say that the use of this by healthy people to have productive and life changing experiences is an issue that a lot of the researchers don't want to deal with because it brings back all of that scary 60s stuff for them that they are having flashbacks when it happens. and yet it is a really important question, and they actually are
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people out there that are saying we need to figure out a way and rick is among them although he tries not to talk about this much, but that we need to figure out a way that eventually healthy people can take this any kind of sacramental way. and for the people who want to, you know, have personal growth and you know, because what happens with the people who actually have these conditions, especially in the camps or the studies -- cancer studies, the people that of the transcendent experiences those are the people that get cured but those are the people that lose their anxiety about dying because they feel like the idea that we are just individuals that are just going to disappear and that's the end of it suddenly that doesn't have such a meaning to them anymore. and also, they see that everybody here has a death date
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and everybody is living one day at a time and doesn't know if they are going to wake up the next morning. so, why should i give up the rest of my life to sit here and so anyway that is an important question and it's something i try to deal with. how are we doing on time? >> it seems remarkable to me that a few experiences with lsd or ecstasy could cure an addiction which takes many repeated exposures to the substance over time to develop so i am just wondering if there's been any research done or whether there's any kind of theory that out there to kind of been there a lot chuckled mechanisms. >> yes they are starting to do more and more of that research now that they have things like
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the mri where they can watch the brain react in real-time. there is a sort of macroscopic theory which is unlike penicillin which you have an infection, take penicillin and without any kind of a conscious awareness or participation on your part, the infection is cured. it just happens because there's a direct impact on your body versus the people that quit smoking or stop drinking alcohol and if that isn't because the drug has some kind of a reaction that they are not aware of but it is because of the experience that they have that makes them see themselves differently in this tobacco cessation study what people said was suddenly the focus shifted from short term pleasure to the long-term well-being. and they just saw that it was much more important whereas
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before their life had been driven by the short term pleasure and that's like a conversion experience it is the nature. however they do show that for instance you can do the studies of people in depression and there are certain parts of the brain that are overactive and usually interestingly they are the parts of the brain that take the data of your senses and then sort of process them into the creative personality that says we are not going to pay attention to this but we are going to pay attention to that. you can see the purpose of that part of the brain was to help people survive in the confusing world was filled with the blended stimulus so they could focus on the survival aspect.
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it shuts down everything else. but they tend to do is reverse what we see in people. it becomes the simulated. in terms of what is going on politically in the u.s. what do you think of the effect on this whole situation will be at the start of increasing acceptance of medical marijuana tax >> i think what is happening and certainly you can see one thing that i was kind of hoping when the book came out that i would
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be attacked for being pro- drug but instead there are all of these articles saying that this can be useful and so i think our society is definitely reaching a tipping point as far as that goes into that is important. it doesn't really matter that we eventually if they will progress even though they are painfully slow. and if they get the kind of results that the early trials were. and in this case this isn't just some drug that they've started researching recently. remember there is a whole 20 year history where it was being widely used and gas, they yes, they were not using the standards of the scientific research that they have now. and you can attack them for all sorts of reasons but the fact is that researchers were and therapists were using this
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successfully so there is no reason to be leave the early results are not going to progress. and i can see that if i were one of the researchers i would i would have to say although i was at a conference and one of the researchers said look i have been working with this since 1966 and we are just trying to prove something that we know for fact is true so a fact is true so we are just jumping through hoops. but anyway that will progress and it will someday within 20 years i believe at least it will become a prescription therapy people can use. the question is do we really have to wait that long for all these people who might benefit from it to have the use of it. >> i want to thank you and i look forward to get the pages of the book is a pulsating. he will be around a few more minutes and books are in the


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