Psychedelic Outlaws

The Movement Revolutionizing Modern Medicine

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By Joanna Kempner, PhD

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An award-winning sociologist unearths how a group of ordinary people debilitated by excruciating pain developed their own medicine from home-grown psilocybin mushrooms—crafting near-clinical grade dosing protocols–and fought for recognition in a broken medical system.

Cluster headache, a diagnosis sometimes referred to as a ‘suicide headache,’ is widely considered the most severe pain disorder that humans experience. There is no cure, and little funding available for research into developing treatments.
 
When Joanna Kempner met Bob Wold in 2012, she was introduced to a world beyond most people's comprehension—a clandestine network determined to find relief using magic mushrooms. These ‘Clusterbusters,’ a group united only by the internet and a desire to survive, decided to do the research that medicine left unfinished. They produced their own psychedelic treatment protocols and managed to get academics at Harvard and Yale to test their results. Along the way, Kempner explores not only the fascinating history and exploding popularity of psychedelic science, but also a regulatory system so repressive that the sick are forced to find their own homegrown remedies, and corporate America and university professors stand to profit from their transgressions.

From the windswept shores of the North Sea through the verdant jungle of Peruvian Amazon to a kitschy underground palace built in a missile silo in Kansas, Psychedelic Outlaws chronicles the rise of psychedelic medicine amid a healthcare system in turmoil. Kempner’s gripping tale of community and resilience brings readers on a eye-opening journey through the politics of pain, through the stories of people desperate enough to defy the law for a moment of relief.

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On Sale
Jun 4, 2024
Page Count
384 pages
Publisher
Hachette Books
ISBN-13
9780306828942

Joanna Kempner, PhD

About the Author

Dr. Joanna Kempner, Associate Professor of Sociology at Rutgers, writes, researches, and teaches at the intersections of science, medicine, and inequality. Kempner is internationally known for her research on overlooked problems in health and illness, giving voice to those without power and challenging how medicine talks about, understands, and makes policies for those it serves. As the premier expert on the social impact of headache diseases, she is a sought-after speaker and is often featured in policy debates and media discussions about pain. Her research has been extensively covered by major national media outlets, such as NPR¸ the Washington Post, Associated Press, Science, the Guardian, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. She was featured alongside Joan Didion and Siri Hustvedt in the award-winning 2017 documentary Out of My Head.

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