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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Trepanation involves drilling a shallow hole in the skull supposedly to improve cerebral blood circulation; in effect, it reverses the fusing of the cranial bones that happens in childhood. Trepanation was for centuries a common medical procedure, to judge by the number of ancient skulls that have turned up with neat holes in them. Convinced that trepanation would help facilitate higher states of consciousness, Feilding went looking for someone to perform the operation on her. When it became clear no professional would oblige, she trepanned herself in 1970, boring a small hole in the middle of her forehead with an electric drill. (She documented the procedure in a short but horrifying film called Heartbeat in the Brain.) Pleased with the results, Feilding went on to stand for election to Parliament, twice, on a platform of “Trepanation for the National Health.”

But while Amanda Feilding may be eccentric, she is by no means feckless. Her work on both drug research and drug policy reform has been serious, strategic, and productive. In recent years, her focus has shifted from trepanation to the potential of psychedelics to improve brain function. In her own life, she has used LSD as a kind of “brain tonic,” favoring a daily dose that hits “that sweet spot where creativity and enthusiasm is increased, but control is maintained.” (She told me that there was a time when she put that tonic dose at 150 micrograms—far above a microdose and enough to send most people, myself included, on a full-fledged trip. But because frequent use of LSD can lead to tolerance, it’s entirely possible that for some people 150 micrograms merely “adds a certain sparkle to consciousness.”) I found Feilding to be disarmingly frank about the baggage she brings to the new conversation about psychedelic science: “I’m a druggie. I live in this big house. And I have a hole in my head. I guess that disqualifies me.”

So, when an aspiring young scientist named Robin Carhart-Harris came for lunch at Beckley in 2005, sharing his ambition to combine research into LSD and Freud, Feilding immediately saw the potential, as well as an opportunity to put her theories about cerebral blood circulation to the test. Feilding indicated to Carhart-Harris that her foundation might be willing to fund such research and suggested that he contact David Nutt, then a professor at the University of Bristol and an ally of Feilding’s in the campaign to reform drug policy.

In his own way, David Nutt is as notorious in England as Amanda Feilding. Nutt, who is a large, jolly fellow in his sixties with a mustache and a booming laugh, achieved his particular notoriety in 2009. That’s when the home secretary fired him from the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, of which he had been chair. The committee is charged with advising the government on the classification of illicit drugs based on their risk to individuals and society. Nutt, who is an expert on addiction and on the class of drugs called benzodiazepines (such as Valium), had committed the fatal political error of quantifying empirically the risks of various psychoactive substances, both legal and illegal. He had concluded from his research, and would tell anyone who asked, that alcohol was more dangerous than cannabis and that using Ecstasy was safer than riding a horse.

“But the sentence that got me sacked,” he told me when we met in his office at Imperial, “was when I went on live breakfast television. I was asked, ‘You’re not seriously telling us that LSD is less harmful than alcohol, are you?’ Of course I am!”*

Robin Carhart-Harris came to see David Nutt in 2005, hoping to study psychedelics and dreaming under him at Bristol; trying to be strategic, he mentioned the possibility of funding from Feilding. As Carhart-Harris recalls the interview, Nutt was blunt in his dismissal: “‘The idea you want to do is incredibly far-fetched, you have no neuroscience experience, it’s completely unrealistic.’ But I told him I put all my eggs in this basket.” Impressed by the young man’s determination, Nutt made him an offer: “Come do a PhD with me. We’ll start with something straightforward”—this turned out to be the effect of MDMA on the serotonin system—“and then maybe later on we can do psychedelics.”

“Later on” came in 2009, when Carhart-Harris, armed with a PhD and working in Nutt’s lab with funding from Amanda Feilding, received approval (from the National Health Service and the Home Office) to study the effect of psilocybin on the brain. (LSD would come a few years later.) Carhart-Harris put himself forward as the first volunteer. “If you’re going to give this drug to people and put them in a scanner, I thought, the honest thing is to do it first to yourself.” But, as he told Nutt, “I have an anxious disposition, and may not have been in the best place psychologically, so he dissuaded me; he also thought participating in the experiment might compromise my objectivity.” In the end, a colleague became the first volunteer to receive an injection of psilocybin and then slide into an fMRI scanner to have his tripping brain imaged.

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