Psychedelics: The Newest Tool in Nuclear Negotiations?


Psychedelic researchers Rick Doblin and Carol Rosin claim they gave 1,000 doses of MDMA to Soviet scientists and military personnel set to negotiate with US President Ronald Reagan in 1985.

“People have such enormous fears and anxieties that get in the way of really hearing and listening,” says Doblin, 68. “With psychedelics, you can get over these emotional blocks that also block our thinking. Psychedelics can produce a deep reliance on common interests and values.”

In 1986, the year after Doblin provided Rosin with 1,000 doses of MDMA for her trip to Moscow, he founded the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)—a nonprofit that has since become a powerhouse behind pioneering studies on the use of psychedelics for the treatment of PTSD, alcoholism, and mental health issues.

But Doblin credits Rosin as the architect of the plan. Rosin, now 77, worked as a corporate manager for Fairchild Industries, an aerospace manufacturing company. In 1983, Rosin founded the Institute for Security and Cooperation in Outer Space, which advocates for a comprehensive space weapons treaty.

In 1985, she was working as a consultant on space and missile defense issues in Washington D.C. but was also meeting with like-minded people at the Esalen Institute, the California-based nonprofit and coastal retreat that has been a countercultural hub for bringing together academics, scientists, policymakers, and advocates for the use of psychedelics. That’s where she met Doblin.

Most recently, Doblin was featured in Michael Pollan’s 2018 book, How to Change Your Mind, which covers the history and modern renaissance of psychedelic research. The story of MDMA and the Soviets received only a passing reference, so I called Doblin for a fuller explanation.

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