Psychedelic Science 2017: Adam Andros Talk on Cognitive Liberty, Neurodiversity, and Non-Pathologizing Approaches to Mental Health

4 05 2017

These are my notes and summarizations of a lecture at Psychedelic Science Conference in Oakland in April of 2017


For more writing like this go to my Wellness Blog at


Hearing voices is normal for processing grief.  If we assumed that hearing voices was a sign of negative mental health issues then we miss the healing process people are going through.  People hear whatever their culture and upbringing tells them.  One will process grief through the signs and symbols of whatever one was exposed to.  If we were exposed to Jesus and Catholicism as a child we might experience processing overall, and metaphysical spirituality, through visions or “voices” of Jesus or the Catholic tradition.   Look at it like advertising.  America advertises competition and individualism, and Jesus as spirituality.  We hear voices pressuring us and socializing us towards these values.  Other cultures based in socialized approaches hear more voices related to well-being, openness, and acceptance.  In Amazon jungle societies, the world is alive and everything has souls and spirits, and the world is a community of humans, plants, clouds, rivers, animals, etc.  Hence these communities using plants as a source of healing, and as teachers.  This is an example of interspecies communication for such communities.  What matters overall, though, is if these experiences are meaningful despite whatever is advertised to us to believe in and process with.


Psychedelic harm reduction and support has a great base in supporting people’s process.  There is no such thing as a bad trip except if people pre-maturely exit a process before it is ready for them to move on.  Allowing the experience to manifest completely is the teacher and in this sense, an environment is created where nobody has authority over the other (other than in some areas of basic safety and whatnot).  A major emphasis is rather put on creating conditions and an environment for flourishing.  This idea of acceptance toward neurodiversity is gaining popularity in mental health circles.  Nothing is considered a “disease,” rather, people who want to process the voices going on in their head can be grouped together and encouraged to process and can be given, or share with each other, coping/harm reduction strategies.  This is a far cry away from the standard pathological approach that values getting rid of this or that.  Instead of seeing a pathology to be cured, how about just seeing difference?  We are moving away from such “pathological” thinking.


For example, being bipolar is a condition that allows one unbounded gifts.  Instead of being “cured”, the condition needs to be navigated for flourishing.  We are learning to celebrate people more for who they are and what they are going through.  How can these “mad” people become positive people who are rather celebrating being “mad” in an insane society?  It’s all in the perspective shift and then helping people navigate.  We can’t lose our ability to see and embrace diverse experiences.  Globalism and mono culture of mind and no diversity is very often the goal of most corporations, institutions, and enterprises.  Moving away from these values and towards embracing the infinite diversity of human experience will lead to more accepted, well-being, and health.


The point of this is not to say that all disease is a myth but that they can be experimented with and our approaches more involved with making space and giving people a positive environment to flourish in.  We all want this.  We place a value on reciprocity of how we treat others and how we want to be treated and allowed to live and think.  The term and value that the United States was founded on comes to mind; “the pursuit of happiness.”  Acceptance and reciprocity of intersectionality of thought is a means to an end to a true pursuit of happiness and healthy communities.





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