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About The Psychedelic Blog

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Robert J. Benz

Founder/Editor

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about human connection. 

People have never been more connected than they are today, right? An estimated 26% of the world’s population—more than two billion people—are active daily users of Facebook. Yet this virtual closeness coexists with a stark reality: about 1 in 8—or one billion—people live with mental illness, hinting at an undercurrent of profound disconnection. Facebook once championed the mantra, “move fast and break things,” which, ironically, may reflect one of the more dire paradoxes of our time. It’s clear to me that while social media has its place, rediscovering our authentic human connections is a journey that all of us must undertake sooner rather than later.

I have long been intrigued by the mind and mental health. When I was younger, spurred by the loss of individuals in my social orbit to suicide, I read what I could on the subject, trying hard to understand. In 2007, I was inspired to work with the direct descendants of Frederick Douglass to co-found and lead a nonprofit organization designed to leverage the great abolitionist’s legacy in addressing contemporary forms of slavery, including the trafficking of children and adults in the sex trade. I was deeply moved by the persistence of trauma in survivors of violence and unspeakable forms of exploitation—people who outwardly thrive yet inwardly battle unseen scars. Their stories have been a source of motivation for me. Whereas, in the early part of my career, I focused on problem-solving related to corporate profits, the ensuing years have seen my expertise shift towards finding systemic solutions to systemic problems.

When I first began to study the issue of human trafficking in 2003, the focus of governments and anti-trafficking organizations was predominantly on intervention, aiming to rescue and assist those who had suffered or were currently being exploited. My objective quickly shifted to developing school-based human trafficking prevention education programs—which are now widely acknowledged and applied—to empower young people to develop defense mechanisms and an early understanding of these issues. Additionally, our organization contributed to reshaping state and federal policies, shifting them from a primarily interventionist approach to one that now emphasizes prevention. The visionary efforts and leadership of Representative Chris Smith from New Jersey were instrumental in driving these national policy changes.

After leaving the Douglass organization at the end of 2021, my journey took me to the South American country of Colombia, where the scars of conflict are deeply etched into the national psyche. I did my best to comprehend how this conflict has persisted for 60 years and how many people are paying the price (more than 9.6 million people, or about 18% of the population, identify as victims of the conflicts).

While sitting with friends one day in the summer of 2022, a seemingly unrelated question was posed: “What was your most memorable experience with a mind-altering substance?” I reflected on an experience from my early 20s when my friend and I experimented with psilocybin, or “mushrooms.” It was an incredible seven or eight hours filled with laughter, strange visions, and a tremendous sense of connectedness. The following day, I remember feeling as though I had taken an emotional shower and vowed to repeat this experience every six months or so for my mental well-being. Of course, I had forgotten my vow until that moment in Bogotá nearly 40 years later.

Back in the United States, I immersed myself in literature and videos concerning the burgeoning field of psychedelic-assisted therapy, exploring its potential to heal the wounds of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more. Recognizing the stigma and misinformation surrounding these conditions, I was driven to share my findings, aware that although mental illness touches every family, understanding of this topic remains elusive. I wondered if and how people that I had known who suffered extreme trauma might be helped by these substances, as well as by improved forms of talk therapy.

 

The Psychedelic Blog was born from a commitment to demystify both psychedelics and mental illness, to explore the intersection of modern science and ancient wisdom, and to interview the people pioneering this exciting frontier. My ideas about this blog are certain to evolve over time, but for now, it’s about opening dialogues, understanding the nature of who we are (and, perhaps, who we’re meant to be), and finding some kind of harmony with the world and the people around us. At its heart, The Psychedelic Blog aims to spark conversations that heal, enlighten, and connect us all.
 

With hope and resolve, 

Robert

Robert J. Benz

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Spyridon “Spyro” Jace

Meet Spyro Jace, a name that, in the Greek language, means “spirit healer.” You can envision Spyro as a super laidback AI-assisted persona with a flair for surfer dialect. I brought him to life thinking that he could say the things I didn’t have the courage to say myself on this website. Although I have gradually begun to share my own experiences without fear or disguise, this does not spell the end for Spyro. You can expect him to make a cameo, keeping the vibes easy and the conversation flowing whenever things get too intense.

Robert aka:

Spyro

Spyridon “Spyro” Jace

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