Wednesday, 7 Iyyar, 5784
  |  May 15, 2024

A Nurse’s Perspective on Taking Psychedelics

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Divi (Devorah) Kamman responds to the article by family therapist Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch of Crown Heights about the recent growing use of psychedelics. Full Story

L’Chaim: Wolosh – Saacks

Next Story »

NYPD To Increase Security In Jewish Communities Following Iran Attack on Israel

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Yes yes yes!!
April 13, 2024 8:41 pm

Well said Divi!!!!

Then how on earth...
April 13, 2024 8:56 pm

…did our forebears in the shtetl somehow manage without psychedelics? I mean it! (And I am trying hard to be respectful and constructive here, please Hashem!) Psychedelics may be helpful for a few, just like other substances (in the light of Hashem having created the cure before He created the disease). But to suggest that the family members of troubled or mentally ill people take psychedelics??? Is there some kind of new “flavor of the month” peer pressure going on among mental health professionals all of a sudden? Did the authors of these 2 articles (about psychedelics) each consult their… Read more »

Reply to  Then how on earth...
April 13, 2024 10:21 pm

This is a rather interesting point to invoke seeing as we love very different lives from our “forebears in the shtetl.”

What about electricity? Phone service? Internet? Do you use any of these things that our forebears somehow managed without?

You don’t think
Reply to  Shtetl
April 14, 2024 6:10 am

there’s an obvious difference between things that weren’t available to them and things that were?

stuck in the past
Reply to  Then how on earth...
April 13, 2024 10:32 pm

I assume you don’t use novacain for your tooth filling, or tylenol for your headache, or… wait, what are you doing on the interent which forbearers didn’t use? Do you know that these therapists did NOT consult with their mashpiim before posting? And why should they anyway? At best, for medical matters, one is to consult with medical yeddidim, not mashpia. I get that the notion of using new substances in general and especialy to help someone ELSE and not the self, seems radical, but just say you don’t like it. Trying to use as argument by what went on… Read more »

Listen to the Rebbe
Reply to  stuck in the past
April 14, 2024 2:25 am

Stop confusing actual MD’s with woo therapists pushing psychedelics… even on people who don’t have any mental health issues

I'm sorry, but...
Reply to  Then how on earth...
April 14, 2024 8:01 am

Clearly you’ve never had a family member experience a mental health challenge. The roots always come back to the family, and if the individual is to heal, the family has to do their work, too.

The Shtetl Didn't Do Chitas
Reply to  Then how on earth...
April 15, 2024 6:17 pm

The Shtetl wasn’t this idyllic world we need to recreate. They died young, they didn’t have antibiotics, and even their Yiddishkeit was quite limited. That’s why the Besht made the ‘revolution’ of stating that a Poshuter Yid is still of Infinite Value. So I don’t like the comparison to the Shtetl for any of our needs. The main idea of psychedelics is to find depth and meaning in your life. Not to heal what is broken, but to be so strong and resiliant that things don’t break quite as easily. It’s most likened to religion actually. Should only broken and… Read more »

Stop using the rebbe
April 13, 2024 10:14 pm

If you wanna do your thing and take psychedelics, that’s your business. But please stop using the rebbe to justify your own grubkeit. Especially when there is a clear letter from the rebbe on the subject…..

Reply to  Stop using the rebbe
April 14, 2024 8:34 am

if there is a letter please share eith the public

100% agree
Reply to  Stop using the rebbe
April 17, 2024 8:49 pm

It’s wrong to always quote the rebbe in articles to gain justification from readers. Just like you would ask approval before quoting someone in your article, how is the rebbe who’s even more important any different?? Very disturbing.

MD comment
April 13, 2024 10:23 pm

How about a comment from a MD Board Certified Psychiatrist? NP and PHD are not. NP has not done residency training. NP lack the experience and eye to Nuance an MD has.

Bless your heart
Reply to  MD comment
April 13, 2024 10:56 pm

How naive and adorable of you. Whenever you walk into primary care, uregent care or ER, you’re chances of being treated by NP’s are significantly higher than an MD

don't listen to anyone who would say they're safe
Reply to  MD comment
April 13, 2024 11:35 pm

even if they happen to be a psychiatrist

Antithisis of Chasidus
April 13, 2024 10:26 pm

I dont argue psycadelics may help someone “find themselves” but this is the opposite of butul metzias.
A great part of reason we experience so much turmoil is our lack of ability to not focus on “ourselves”
The pnimious we are searching for is not the story we live its the essence of our soul which is one with Hashem.

Okay but
Reply to  Antithisis of Chasidus
April 13, 2024 11:03 pm

Is drinking alcohol also too self indulgent than

I saw this!
Reply to  Antithisis of Chasidus
April 14, 2024 8:54 am

I practically became a non believer in anything. Guess what? I saw exactly what you are saying m, saw it, lived it, felt it in a psychedelic journey. It was as healing as it can be.

Listen to the Rebbe
April 13, 2024 10:30 pm

When you have a medical issue, you ask a rofeh yedid. If that qualified medical doctor thinks it’s best to ask a specialist, ask specialists. Two or even three if need be. But you don’t go to people who are not qualified in any way to be doctors for medical advice

Family members
April 13, 2024 10:34 pm

What’s interesting is that u mention family members of ppl w mental illness are affected. This is SO true unfortunately, I have a family member with OCD and some serious anxiety. I would say I was affected tremendously by him growing up and don’t even like spending time with him now. I never thought that we should also be taking to help us live with him. But it makes sense

April 13, 2024 10:47 pm

Please don’t bring the Rebbe into this discussion, as if the Rebbe endorsed this type of activity! This is the highest level of Chutzpah. If you want to promote a certain lifestyle, do it without mixing the Rebbe into it.

April 13, 2024 10:59 pm

Wowow. Food for thought. I think this is a very interesting topic. I think that people should be discouraged from trying psychedelics with anyone other than a mental health professional with proper training and expertise. And I think that’s a serious point. I also think that this topic needs to be really well researched and explored and lots of clear information with data and anecdotes should be given to the public…

wasn't MK Ultra enough research?
Reply to  Wow.
April 14, 2024 10:32 am

don’t do these things

Dangerous article
April 13, 2024 11:05 pm

The article does not give any reliable sources. As the author admits that the highest risk is for people who are unstable. And the suggestion for healthy people to take it is ludicrous. A person should consult a proper mainstream mental health professional.

To "Shtetl" & "Stuck..." from Then how on earth...
April 13, 2024 11:08 pm

Apples and oranges. Novocaine, the internet, and all your other examples were invented (or were more widely used in the world) post-Shtetl, historically. Also, your examples are not hallucinogens. Psychedelics are. Psychedelic substances (mushrooms, etc.) Are not new innovations. They have been in the world since ancient times. And somehow, Jewish life flourished for centuries without hallucinogens. And when it comes to making FEATURED statements to one’s community, it IS wise to consult one’s mashpia, not to the exclusion of consulting medical experts, etc. I did not accuse the two feature-writers of NOT consulting their mashpiim. I merely asked the… Read more »

Why no mention of down sides?
April 13, 2024 11:13 pm

Why no mention of “bad trips” and flashbacks?

At least Rabbi Schonbuch acknowledged these as part of the reality. Divi Kamman did not.

These are serious omissions.

Reply to  Why no mention of down sides?
April 14, 2024 10:34 am

is worse than your problems

no jew should do them, no exceptions
April 13, 2024 11:33 pm

the only question that remains is, how can the jews who already got damaged from them, be repaired, in mind body nervous system and brain? Can the nurse comment

April 14, 2024 12:22 am

This is apparently is the dor of yeshus. Taking advice from the Joe Rogan podcast over the Rebbe who wrote clearly on the subject. Psychedelics are a bypass to the avodah one must do to reach a mystical experience. Look at all the self absorbed Hollywood and tech types that go take auyasca in the jungle, guess what a lot of them are still terrible self absorbed people, and we are no following in their derech? Miss please don’t bend the ways of chassidus to be relevant, we all remember R.Schachter who took this garbage and it broke his mind.… Read more »

April 14, 2024 12:56 am

Why is COL the appropriate platform to keep churning out articles pushing psychedelics?

the satan
Reply to  Confused
April 14, 2024 10:35 am

are they intentionally or unintentionally channeling the satan

April 14, 2024 1:06 am

Psychedelics are drugs! All the cute names of “plant medicine, mushrooms, ayuhasca, peyote”, they are just another name for psychotic drugs.

We know the rebbe’s opinion on drugs (LSD the precursor to the above drug’s) and its a unequivocal NO!
As mentioned by some of the above comments, “please leave your personal Taavos out of it”. You want to debate etc. don’t start an article trying to be מטהר the שרץ with the Rebbe’s opinion, which whatever is known – is against consuming drug’s.

We've seen this pattern before...
April 14, 2024 1:09 am

Every year there are 3 or so articles supportive of a new edgy mental health trend, which is then immediately followed by 3 or so articles of Chabad Rabbanim sending out a letter that that this trend is forbidden, against Torah and against Chassidus, and then followed by a new weekly podcast series by someone explaining how to instead reach our essence with Chassidus. Same pattern every year….I give it about a week or two before the Chabad Rabbonim response comes out banning all this.. and then another week for the podcast…..

Yes to this
Reply to  We've seen this pattern before...
April 17, 2024 8:52 pm

Lol but also very true

Gitel Chana Levin
April 14, 2024 1:10 am

I am a psychiatrist in practice for almost 40 years and have tremendous respect for the author and the work she is doing. It is an evolving field and she is definitely more educated in it than most MD’s including myself. I have referred patients to her and am impressed by her thorough assessments and careful selection of who would be appropriate for this approach. All medications have risks and benefits. Nothing works for everyone. I am grateful for Ms. Kamman, and others, who are carefully trailblazing new ways to relieve suffering. I was saddened to see this portrayed as… Read more »

Reply to  Gitel Chana Levin
April 14, 2024 10:38 am

don’t do them. Don’t tell jews to do them.

Well said
Reply to  Gitel Chana Levin
April 14, 2024 7:41 pm

Thank you for your thoughtful, intelligent and professional response. Concur 100%. Excellent and courageous presentation, Ms. Kamman.

Me me me
April 14, 2024 1:52 am

A treatise on why I want to do drugs because of me, and why I encourage others to do so because I need validation.

If you want to get high do it, don’t try and justify it with chassidus though.

Reb Zalman Shachter
April 14, 2024 1:58 am

Remember when Reb Zalman Shachter got high and became a fried out heretic?

If he couldn’t handle it what makes you think anyone else could?


Please dont compare
Reply to  Reb Zalman Shachter
April 14, 2024 9:13 pm

He wasnt doing it under a doctor’s care.

Reply to  Please dont compare
April 15, 2024 10:52 am

do compare. You act as if a doctor can prevent the bad things that come from it. News flash. They can’t!

great piece
April 14, 2024 7:42 am

Divi did a masterful job on this piece, its something I’ve been contemplating and you gave me clarity.

Only have the rebbes teachings, its imp for to have experts like ur self that can weave a path forward based on our mesora.

wake up
Reply to  great piece
April 14, 2024 3:33 pm

Divi is pushing mind altering highly addictive experimental filth. Wake up before its too late!!

This is Call of the Shofar 2.0!!

False Quote
April 14, 2024 7:51 am

the Rebbe’s message that when a tool, such as meditation, is available to alleviate the suffering of those with mental and emotional anguish, it is incumbent on mental health professionals to educate themselves to provide this tool in a kosher way.”.
The Rebbe never said anything of this sort. The Rebbe said something different altogether.

Rebbe's opinion
April 14, 2024 8:02 am

Luckily we have clear answers from the Rebbe against such usage.

Over the top
April 14, 2024 8:11 am

This article just reeks of self-justification. It feels like any other person who uses recreational drugs and gives reasons why it’s “medicinal” or that it’s “bringing out your true identity”.
Shtetl or not, Chasidus is something incredible we have which helps us REALLY connect with Hashem and brings out our TRUE inner identity. Wouldn’t it be better if we didn’t have to resort to substances and ch”v use the Rebbe as an excuse for it?
Let’s not forget DRUGS ARE DRUGS….

April 14, 2024 9:05 am

I don’t understand some of the comments by readers. Why the ferocious attack? Psychedelics are becoming a first line treatment for psychiatric illness. Many hospitals are now using Ketimine to treat their patients and the scientific studies are clear that these treatments are extremely more effective than traditional medication. Are we going to keep our heads in the sand and let people suffer because we have archaic beliefs about these treatments? What is basis to oppose these treatments? Follow the science and the doctors who know this field. In my opinion, this article seems very balanced and nuanced. The letter… Read more »

why are we being ferocious?
Reply to  Foolish.
April 14, 2024 10:41 am

Because we know many people whose lives have been destroyed and we don’t want any more to be destroyed from them

A couple of thoughts....
April 14, 2024 9:48 am

1 – to all those who are screaming “don’t bring the Rebbe into it”, your disdain for this topic is rooted in thinking psychedelics are just some recreational hippie drug. For some, it is, and that is not it’s medicinal purpose. For many, it is a pathway to re-wiring a toxic brain. You don’t know what the Rebbe would have said but he certainly wouldn’t have shunned research and exploration of something that could alleviate suffering. 2 – as a person who has suffered from depression for over 30 years and has been on SSRI’s for 25 of those 30… Read more »

April 14, 2024 10:35 am

Huge Ty to Divi for your leadership on this issue. With knowledge, expertise and humility you continue to shepard people on a path of healing that is saving lives. Your work is invaluable. You have the gratitude and support of the countless, sometimes forgotten folks who are being helped/saved.

Avremi Gourarie

the only rewiring it does
April 14, 2024 10:42 am

is damaging the brain even more

can't take somone deeper than you have gone your.
April 14, 2024 11:57 am

I applaud you Divi, Psilocybin has changed my life I am frum today because of it, it started me back on my path to god, most of my teenage years and 20s I was drinking myself to death, no one screaming about how psychedelics are so bad told me maybe I had a issue with drinking too much, as I was surrounded by people who think its normal to drink the way guys in crown heights and chabad drink. I have been sober for 2.5 years. I did psilocybin 3 times in the last 2.5 years, I say that anyone… Read more »

Reply to  can't take somone deeper than you have gone your.
April 14, 2024 2:49 pm

Or w/prescription?

Home-grown? If so, that is fraught w/ serious, dangerous issues, not just for the person who chose to home-grow it.

Bought from a local dealer of illegals? I personally rode in an ambulance to the?hospital w/a family member who got very ill doing mushrooms bought from “someone at shul.” No one wants this outcome, but it happens.

Kol HaKavod
Reply to  can't take somone deeper than you have gone your.
April 14, 2024 7:44 pm

You should go from strength to strength in your recovery! Informed andf courageous response. G-d bless!

April 14, 2024 1:08 pm

– Psychedelics are currently illegal and this falls into the requirements that shulachan aruch says we’re to follow the laws of the land. – I’ve also seen a letter saying that a therapist is healer and has the halachik power of doctors. -In a response about LSD ( a psychedelic) the Rebbe says that it’s not the proper way to achieve mystical inspiration. – Meditation is much more powerful in that one can pick up where they left off, touch base with their spiritual anytime without needing to excuse themselves from other life obligations. – if we are able to… Read more »

Yes,Meditation is Safer
Reply to  Perspectives
April 14, 2024 10:50 pm

Good point.

Meditation is safer and probably overall more effective in the long term.

The Rebbe encouraged people to come up with kosher forms of meditation that could replace the Eastern-religion forms of meditation that were popular among Jews after the 60s. This does not mean he would approve of psychedelics today. The comparison in the article is apples/oranges.

So True!
April 14, 2024 2:39 pm

Thank you for speaking some sense

Serious Risks Downplayed by Advocate-Practitioners
April 14, 2024 6:32 pm

There is some evidence these substances can help for depression and addiction. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they should become commonly used for these conditions. First, many of the academic studies are carried out by researchers with a pro-psychedelic bias who themselves use psychedelics. If you look at many areas of academic study you’ll find the same thing–people create research that supports what they already believe. It doesn’t mean these substances don’t have promise, but skepticism is warranted. Second, psychedelics have many risks, including long-term or permanent negative side effects–panic attacks, personality changes, visual disturbances (HPPD), and even psychosis, mania… Read more »

Please dont compare

Well said!!
I agree that much caution is warranted and it is people with biases who speak about it glowingly, without giving the downsides.

It may be used cautiously for those who most need. It shouldnt be the new trend here.

By saying it's for family members...
April 14, 2024 9:28 pm

You are trying to make the “short path” supplant the “long- but-shorter path” of real work through meditating on Chasidus and Torah.

Now in doing that, you appear to be pushing us toward a path that is free of avodah.

April 15, 2024 7:04 am

Wasn’t this something that was tried in the past. I recommend the wonderful insightful book Channibis Chasidus which is very well researched and medically sound.

See R' Miller on the subject
April 15, 2024 9:45 am

In Rejoice O Youth R’ Avigdor Miller mentions that a large part of Klal Yisroel’s survival over the years was us not jumping on every new thing as it appeared on the scene. Rather, our forefathers waited a bit for either the issues to be worked out, or the fad to be proven a scam so that we don’t get caught up in the nonsense of the world. (there may be times where we miss out on “getting in early” however it’s likely outweighed by all the times we don’t get burnt.) over the years each one of us have… Read more »

April 15, 2024 11:26 am

Chasidus has all the answers. This article needs to be removed.

Todays youth don’t understand the joy that can be had for following the old ways…stop micro dosing and start grating ur marror.

Transportation Info?
Reply to  feh
April 15, 2024 9:10 pm

This article concerns people with severe mental illness and their families, maybe desperate to find some relief where psychiatric medicine has failed them and they haven’t been able to access the therapeutic benefits of chassidus yet.

Can we look at reason instead of rules?
April 16, 2024 11:52 am

Why does everyone keep quoting the Rebbe’s letters or talks on psychedelics??
He didn’t study psychedelics, he probably didn’t ever take any, and he hasn’t given good reasons for the things he said!

When one is making an argument, they’re supposed to quote experts, studies, examples, evidence etc.

Temporary vs permanent. Healing vs treating.
April 16, 2024 6:41 pm

Option 1: Take psychedelics 3 to 5 times Take the healing you need from it and move on with your life

Option 2: Get prescribed to anti depressants and anti anxiety medications that you need to take daily for the rest of your life. (And suffer the side effects of Weight Gain, Bloating, Fatigue etc.)

Unfortunately, lots of people here are so closed minded and can’t relate to the so many people suffering on a daily basis.

option 1 isn't an option
Reply to  Temporary vs permanent. Healing vs treating.
April 16, 2024 11:01 pm

because HPPD won’t let you move on and your brain will never be the same, in a bad way.

option 3
Reply to  Temporary vs permanent. Healing vs treating.
April 16, 2024 11:02 pm

the only option, observe the Torah