Transcript: Sextech and Psychedelics

This is a raw, unedited transcript of the Dot Dot Dot Conversation “Sextech and Psychedelics: Unlocking Women’s Desires.”
You can listen to the full recording here.

Laurie Segall  00:00

This is a live Dot Dot Dot media conversation and we are talking about sex tech and psychedelics and this idea of how do you unlock women’s desires. Apparently, there’s really some interesting science and studies that are happening behind this. I know Kelsey, you guys have some really interesting news. Sherry you’re a big part of it. So first to introduce you. Kelsey Ramsden, who’s the CEO of Mindcure. Kelsey, you want to just give us a little bit of your bio, give us a couple couple quick lines on your background.

Kelsey Ramsden  00:45

Yeah, I’ll give you the snippets. So, the Google would tell you that I’ve been twice named Canada’s top female entrepreneur. So I do okay at founding businesses and scaling them up and building teams and now as a co-founder of Mindcure. We’re a psychedelics research company. We have a technology division and drug development division. We’re just a little bit over a year old. Excited to be here to talk about our most recent research advancements so I’ll leave it at that. I will invite everyone in the room to this idea that all questions are welcome. I talk about anything and everything. So you can ask questions about psychedelics, about our company, about the space in general, about the research. So just really open forum to invite people to, to join the conversation and whatever way we take it.

Laurie Segall  01:37

Great. And I love that. Yeah so folks listening please raise your hand and feel free to ask questions. We will definitely have time for that because I think this is the kind of conversation that certainly warrants a lot of questions. Then we also have Dr. Sherry Walling who’s a licensed clinical psychologist and you are part of what we’re going to start getting into which is called The Desire Project which I’m super fascinated with. But share if you want to get into your background a little bit, we’d love to hear about you.

Sherry Walling  02:06

Absolutely. Thanks Laurie, yeah I’m a clinical psychologist with a strong background in research, so I trained at Yale University School of Medicine and the National Center for PTSD both in research fellowships. But I really love working with people so I am a practicing clinician and so I’m kind of the boots on the ground on The Desire Project. I love to think about how we can integrate new therapies, whether that’s integrating yoga into therapy or increasingly the conversation around psychedelics. I’m trained in ketamine assisted psychotherapy and I’m currently in the MAPS training program to administer MDMA for PTSD.

Laurie Segall  02:46

I mean it’s fascinating, we spoke about some of this stuff a couple weeks ago on a show and just the innovation happening here and how it relates to mental health is fascinating. When it comes to psychedelics and some of this stuff so it’s really interesting to talk about how it relates to sexual desire which I do want to get to. But Kelsey I just before we get into what you guys are, have just announced, you just have such a fascinating background. It very much kind of paved the way for what you’re doing today. So you talk about, you know, being named Canadian female entrepreneur twice. I know that you have built, multiple companies scaling into millions of dollars so you on paper, are very very successful right. In general, you’re very successful. You then went on and wrote this book called Success Hangover which I thought was super fascinating. It’s kind of a more nuanced look at people who have success and really talk about how you really feel and what are some of the harder things that you grapple with. Could you explain to us a little bit about the book and how that led you to Mind Cure?

Kelsey Ramsden  03:58

Sure, I’d love to. I mean, I think, I think reading my story is not dissimilar from many people’s stories and that some of us who are driven come into the world and have a sense of that we’re meant to jump certain hoops and tick certain boxes and, and really tread this kind of traditional road to, if you can see me in airport success. And I did that, I did it well. I’m a well trained monkey. You know, I did all the things I was meant to do. And I thought when I got to the mountaintop, you know the proverbial have the money and the and the awards and the pieces of paper and and all the things that I was, you know whole. I got to the mountaintop, and instead of feeling whole I felt hollow. Enough that I, that not not that I wasn’t happy with the things that I had or the life that I’d made. It was just moreover internally myself wasn’t there in the way that I had expected it to be. So for me that was the beginning of the journey into a variety of forms of healing. And never really getting to the place where I felt like I was getting at the root, you know. Everything was a bit of a like, focus for a while, patch it up, patch it up, keep on going. I was unsatisfied with that so I started looking at what other forms of healing solutions could be available to me. And through the lottery of life. I had a girl who was just assigned to a university dorm room, who became my friend. Later on in years as she is a doctor, and she was working with a group called therapist who is doing psychedelic assisted psychotherapy. She says to me, you know what Kelsey, you know, we have these real heart to hearts as girlfriends do, know you’re not happy, maybe you should consider psychedelics. And I, you know, we went to university together so she knew that I was open to such paradigms. But now, at this point in my life where you meet me in this part of the story I’m like, I’m a 40 year old, CEO of multiple companies I have three children I’m like I’m a responsible adult. This idea felt really kind of foreign. So, I went to the research and started investigating some of the work that was coming out at Johns Hopkins with respect to suicide in and depression and anxiety and was really convinced that it could hold promise. So I became a patient myself just shy of four years ago That was part of the unlocking of this idea of, you know, really returning to self. Finding different ways of healing root things and being okay with not band-aiding things out and just marching on as I was. I used to say to myself, you know, in the middle of the night when we have those stare at the ceiling things. And I would just say “Gristle up girl. Gristle up.” and I don’t do that anymore. I’m so grateful. So that was my journey coming into Mind Cure was understanding, you know a bit as a natural born capitalists, that the market was coming together. People were starting to fund research. Society is changing being more open to it. And my knowing, personally, what this what this kind of work can do so. So that’s how I came here, you know, a long and winding road like most of us.

Laurie Segall  07:34

Yeah, I think it’s interesting. So, for folks listening I was our technology correspondent at CNN for over a decade before starting Dot Dot Dot, and then, part time of 60 minutes. I’d like to think that I had this joke when I was at CNN sometimes I would do these longer specials right and what I might be talking about. I think I did a special called Sex, Drugs Silicon Valley all about people who are out of the box thinkers and it was, it was on a lot of the stuff, but I always had this joke that you know what I’m going through based on what I’m covering. And it almost and I was looking at your baby. It’s like, it was so interesting, but it’s like kids and I’m assuming you have kids became interested in a business that had to do with children and. And now you’re, You’re taking on psychedelics and research. What I think is really interesting and what’s important for folks here to, to understand is you guys are doing something incredibly unique with this type of research but I just thought it was interesting now that you talk about what’s going on in your own life, and feeling these certain ways and you know maybe having the success hangover or dealing with your own with your own mental health, and really beginning to say like oh I need to start, I need to really do a company in this vein and so I just saw a funny parallel there.

Kelsey Ramsden  08:53

It’s true. I used to kind of jokingly say when I got to the place where I was like in the missionary sex of my career. Like it was everything I was doing was like hardly memorable to me. It was like okay that’s fine. Yeah, every day, it’s fine. Okay. And, but just this sense of being required. 

Laurie Segall  09:17


Kelsey Ramsden  09:19

That’s just what I have to do and I was really seeking this idea of like what do I want to do? What is it that I desire myself in my career and in my life? And that was kind of the crux moment. So in many ways like to your point there’s a corollary in this idea of desire. Now we transform that into sexual desire for women but I think we can all relate to this, this kind of sense of across many multi many mental health challenges, that kind of the, you know the void of being desirous or, or having impetus for that can really feel hollow.

Laurie Segall  10:00

Yeah. And, and I, you know, Sherry, I’d love to get to you, can you guys, can you explain so you guys have just launched The Desire Project and correct me if I’m wrong but I think you guys announced this yesterday, right?

Sherry Walling  10:15

Yes, yesterday.

Laurie Segall  10:16

Yeah, yesterday so I mean it’s really new, and it’s very unique in it and it talks about I mean, we can really get into this idea of female desire and which has deep roots in the mind and how psychotherapy can help with this. and I want to get into all of that, but I’d love your just, you know, if you could just explain to folks, what The Desire Project is and how it came about.

Sherry Walling  10:40

Yeah, I think we like Kelsey alluded to really we’re connecting with the idea of what is health, what is wellness, what does it look like to create products and create resources that help people experience true wholeness. And one of the problems, like from my perspective as a clinical psychologist with how we have traditionally conceptualized mental health is kind of the absence of symptoms, right, you don’t meet the diagnostic criteria for depression. Therefore, you’re well, and that’s not, I don’t think good enough. So, we wanted to really think about what does flourishing look like what does wellness look like, and a part of that is being connected to a sense of, You know we can talk about it sort of spiritually as lifeforce, or a sense of one’s own sense of pleasure, passion, joy, deep, deep happiness, these things that I think we’re all longing for but some of us have kind of said, Hey, that’s not for me or that’s not possible, that doesn’t work in my real day to day life. And so, following kind of that journey led to these places of like where does desire really break down. And I think one of the things we have bumping up against is the relationship between fullness like sexual fullness and mental health. So, understanding, passion, desire, sexual liveliness, as a key component of what makes us a healthy well human.

Laurie Segall  12:11

Hmm, I mean it’s super interesting when you look at it like that so I mean essentially what what you guys are doing with this and Kelsey love for you to expand to is your. It’s this is a clinical research program and you’re treating female sexual desire disorder right with with MDMA assisted psychotherapy, I mean, that’s interesting. You know, I mean that’s not something we hear a lot about, you know about, because we’ve heard a lot about this with men, I mean I think I guess like to go to, you know, Viagra we’ve had these open conversations about men and sexual desire, but we haven’t really heard folks talk about psychedelics in that, you know, in this sense with this kind of clinical research so could you get into, you know what exactly it is that you guys are doing and what you’re hoping to accomplish with this for a minute.

Kelsey Ramsden  13:08

I’m in the time to two things there. The first piece is 40% of women in their lifetime pre menopausal women are going to experience some lack of desire. That’s a lot of us that’s 40% of women speak number 14% of women are going to experience that lack of desire to the degree to which it causes them distress. So what that means, are feelings of like anger and frustration, they can you know women who experiences can have real challenges in their relationships they can fear that their partner may be leaving them. And this isn’t only for people who are partnered, you can be a single person who’s in this situation as well so it’s a big part of the market, but, but the second point is your point, we don’t talk about women and desire very often, it’s very common in our culture to talk about fellas in this conversation not meant to demonize the men in any way shape or form like have all the desire you guys want I think it’s great. And to date, there just hasn’t been anyone who’s tackled, I think this this challenge and I mean there’s a number of reasons for it but I think one of the, one of the lovely things to be positive. Is that can you believe that we’re in a time that psychedelics, number one, are being openly discussed in research, we’ve changed so much. And this notion of women being afforded the opportunity to have the equality of desire, and sexual experience I think is timely, and I just, I feel like there’s a lot to talk about we just have we just haven’t opened up this you know this pandora’s box just yet, and and I’m, I’m thrilled to hear all the stories, and then I’m thrilled to start these conversations that maybe in the past were taboo, but I don’t think they need to be at all.

Laurie Segall  15:07

I mean, and sorry Sherry, go ahead.

Sherry Walling  15:10

I was just gonna say, so really concretely, we are using a protocol that’s based largely on the MAPs protocol so we’re borrowing from the established research with, you know, with consented support and approval and celebration. To adjust adapt their protocol using, usually three medicine sessions of MDMA, along with about 12 sessions of supportive psychotherapy, kind of spaced out throughout around three months to see if we can help shift people transition people from a place of disconnection and lack of desire, through the treatment protocol to reinstituting or perhaps discovering their own sense of desire for the first time.

Laurie Segall  15:57

I mean it’s fascinating, can you tell me, can you give me. When did this, when does this start, and how are you finding people, how are you going to measure success can give us some specifics.

Kelsey Ramsden  16:09

Maybe it will tie in to believe it and then sure yeah after birth the matrix. So we’ve been at this for about six months time, building the program, bringing the researchers on the team designing the protocol, and traditionally clinical research takes a really long time, so anybody who’s listening who’s thinking this is for me, hands up, where do I sign up. We’re excited to help you but we can’t just yet. It’s likely that because of all the work that the work that MAPs has done, you know upon their shoulders we stand with great gratitude, we’ll probably be able to go into a phase two study, which means between four and six years before this is a fully commercialized product. Assuming that the research goes well I mean obviously we have reason to believe it will. There’s a reason that MDMA is called the love drug, but, you know, TBD, we still have to do the science so maybe Sherry You can talk about the metrics and how we, how we look at how we measure this.

Sherry Walling  17:09

Yeah. What is really amazing about this project is if you, if you Google the world’s leading experts in female sexual desire. They’re on our team, they’re pretty much on our team, so they’ve written the measures, they have done the foundational research so Dr. Anita Clayton for example it has been researching this for 30 years and she has written measures that help to are the current gold standard within the field of how do you assess desire right. How do you ask people about it in the correct ways how do you really get at what is underlying desire so we’ll, we’ll be using measures that she has worked on. We’re also working with Dr. Cindy Meston. 

Laurie Segall  17:49

And quick follow up shirt, how do you do that.

Sherry Walling  17:53

Well, there’s a, there’s a standardized questionnaire, and there were the things that make it complicated as you want to you want to sort of control for confounding variables to sort of speak some sides here. If you want to ask about desire, and also account for other things like, you know, fatigue, the things that kind of get in the way of what would make someone open and interested to sex. And so that’s why we ask it in a very standardized way and we ask it over the course of the treatment.

Kelsey Ramsden  18:27

You know, can I just tie in here for one quick sec because I think sometimes when people hear us talk about desire. They may not even know exactly what the playing field is we’re talking about. So desire can be thoughts of fantasy, you know. Desire can be all forms of these kind of like early sensations of being desires of desire, all the way up into, you know, arousal, and then, of course, orgasm. So when we’re talking about desire, we’re operating in quite a wide spectrum of the sexual experience or connection to self and other. And, and to Sherry’s point around like removing erroneous variables, I think there’s also a social context is worth talking about, that you kind of also alluded to before, I think a lot of women, just kind of, I don’t know, brush it under the rug and it under the rug and say, this is the part in life where I’m tired or this is a part in life where I’m busier, this is the part in life where it’s been five years and I’ve been married it’s just meant to be this way, I’m this apart, and, and a lot of that is, actually, you know, not necessarily true. So looking at what’s going on around the woman, and some of the things that we screen out for of course are negative relationships like if you’re in a poor relationship no wonder you’re not necessarily experiencing desire. But in large part, you know, a healthy typical woman should have regular access to desire, and it’s just that simple.

Laurie Segall  20:06

And I’m curious, Sherry, you talk about training with MAPs to conduct, you know, MDMA for PTSD treatment protocols and why. What specifically I know that what people refer to MDMA is kind of, you know the love drug and that kind of stuff but if you think it into specifics either of you guys, but why do you think, MDMA is, is, is the answer to some to some of these issues what specifically about it and how it impacts our brain.

Sherry Walling  20:36

One of the things that is really important about MDMA, is that it, it kind of floods the system with serotonin, and serotonin is probably a familiar term to lots of essence neurotransmitter that really does help with a sense of pleasurable mood. And so, like subjectively, it feels very good. We also see without MDMA decreased activity in the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that is most often associated with fight or flight with a big fear response. And another piece of MDMA and it’s just the third one that I’ll mention is that MDMA is also notable among psychedelics and among other kinds of pharmacological interventions because it also increases oxytocin which is a hormone that is associated with our sense of bonding or connection. So one of the common things that really disrupts desire for people is that they have sexual experiences maybe that are traumatic or are just unpleasant. You know that full spectrum all the way from really scary to just not desirous or not, not, you know, wasn’t good for them, basically. And so what happens in the brain is this pairing of fear or unpleasantness with sex. And so, MDMA allows because of its sort of action within the amygdala, allows us to talk with someone about sex or work with sort of the conversation around desire, without fear, so it, it kind of closes down or suspends that negative response that has become part of the kind of desire, process, Medic.

Laurie Segall  22:26

For this particular project. Do you think the we’re ready for this right. Even this idea of having a real open conversation about female sexual desire about MDMA, about, you know, standardizing some of this, it’s a fascinating concept. I’m curious, you know, do you think, do you think you guys will have success in getting out of public narrative around this.

Kelsey Ramsden  22:54

I think this is so I’ll give you the path a little bit of a snapshot of the past 24 hours, of course, internally, our team is thrilled and excited we think the project’s amazing right. But then, you know, there’s this one extreme which is Sex, drugs and rock and roll like it’s, it’s kind of this idea of having sex and drugs together is anecdotally kind of suicidally curious, you know, but when we get down to the real kind of personal level of it, I think the conversation around psychedelics is big and growing, and I think openness is there, I know that up in Canada, there was a recent survey, 68% of people believe that the health coverage system here should cover psychedelics for people so it’s a, it’s a pretty, you know, open subject and people are I think open to psychedelics. I think where the rubber really hits the road for us, is people being open to talking about women and desire, in a way that is different than, you know the over sexualized parts of the conversation or the shameful parts of the conversation, or, you know, I think that’s really where. So, yesterday I posted on my Instagram feed. Two questions, and one was, It was just for the ladies and one was, have you ever faked this. And the second was. Have you ever been into your partner but just not really into it. 

Laurie Segall  24:32

That is fun

Kelsey Ramsden  24:33

100% 100% and invoke what was kind of like indicative of this part of the conversation, and I’m getting the boat to throw my brother under the bus here so I hope you’re not here, but I was talkingto my sister in law last night and she said Oh Your brother said, Do you see this thing on Chelsea’s Instagram feed, and she said yeah. He said did you answer them, she said yeah I answered one of them, and he said well I guess I have to answer the questions to find out the response. And she said, Kelsey, you should be taping men’s faces some men when they see this because immediately when he saw 100% and 100%, either. It was like, that’s impossible. Impossible, and it might add a you know my joke back is, have you ever seen Harry Met Sally like that scene with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. And we can joke about it and make way about it but the truth of the matter is that this has been and continues to be a real thing, it was a thing in the time of our grandmothers, it was a thing in the time of our mothers and it’s still a thing and, and this idea that one gender shouldn’t be able to openly discuss something that’s very human. This is very human, just doesn’t sit well with me and admittedly Yes, old project, but I think that’s okay. 

Sherry Walling  26:03

Yeah, I think in some ways as Kelsey has identified that the psychedelics are an easier sell than the sex right in my context in the US there’s something like 70 University medical schools that have launched or are launching psychedelic research or clinical training plan their programs, so that the momentum is there, but where we do face the uphill swim, I think, is in this embracing of full flourishing sexuality for women, right, if you think about all the bad words we call women, most of them are related to liking sex, Right, having too much sex enjoying sex too much. And so this sense of, it’s a little bit scary, if a woman was to really embrace her sexuality her sensuality her ability to claim her own desire, like buckle up, I don’t know if we’re scared of that. But I will, I will sing this song all day and all night as a clinical psychologist sexual health is part of mental health. Feeling sexually whole and connected and understanding your own body, how it works, having a relationship with yourself as a sexual being is absolutely core to being mentally well, so we don’t get to just cut off parts of us and say they don’t matter, we have to sort of do the work to integrate all of it.

Laurie Segall  27:30

Yeah, I think that’s a great point and I want to be mindful that we have Annie up here and we’ve had her up here for a little bit so Annie I’d love to. If you want to introduce yourself to the room, and I know you have a question for, for both Sherry and Kelsey.

Annie Block  27:50

Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited by this conversation and I’m literally just sitting here like, yes. You guys are saying, I think what you’re doing is so important and amazing I’m, I also really resonate with some of that struggle with talking about sex, because I, as a sex positive therapist and I actually work in a practice that both has a psychedelic team and effects positive team, the psychedelic seem to be much more accepted than the sex piece, and that’s where so much of the difficulty comes in. But I was curious about, you know, because so many of the things that come up around female sexuality Are these like shame pieces or discomfort with your own body and body image and I was curious if that’s coming up in your research and if you know there’s been an impact on that for clients.

Sherry Walling  28:41

I think that’s really a huge for if the work is as you as a professional. I think what you’re doing is really important because it does combine the psychotherapy piece right the conversation around shame the naming of emotion, the understanding your own history and where those emotional experiences and those beliefs came from, but we’re pairing that with a new neurological experience in the form of the medicine. So this is kind of the best case combination of, let’s talk about your thoughts and your feelings, and also, let’s give your brain a new perspective on the topic by, you know, the medicine experience and so yes absolutely, shame, the sense of discomfort with your body how it works. Fear certainly we’re having conversations around trauma and the kinds of experiences that lead sex to feel unsafe. That’s all sort of a core of this work.

Kelsey Ramsden  29:43

I also might lean into this like a little bit more culturally in that for some reason, it seems okay to put women in the context of, of it being okay for them to be able to access their desire, when they may be young and youthful and they have the kind of body that we’re traditionally pairing with this idea of women and desire. So, let’s just say, that’s kind of a thing. And, as women transition from that era, and evolve into different stages and ages of life. Sometimes the societal notion of desire doesn’t really pair with that process. You know, when we think of even saying the word desiring women. Oftentimes I’m not thinking about, you know someone in my age bracket. And, and I think there is something you know to the probably know a part of the crux of your question is, and, and not always related to aging, sometimes it’s just related to how we see ourselves as women period. And what we’re reflected, what’s reflected to us about what is desirous because this is also part of a relationship conversation so I think it’s an astute question and definitely is a part of a part of this subset of the women who we’ll be working with. And I don’t know I mean, there are so many it’s a nuanced, it’s a very nuanced and multifaceted experience our connection to our own desire self in other.

Sherry Walling  31:21

Yeah. And you know,

Laurie Segall  31:23

I’m curious, I mean you talk about you. You brought together almost this female dream team of experts who are the leading experts of female desire right to. If you could extract one thing like having now had a team of people who have studied this and who are the leading experts in the world on this. What do you what’s your takeaway when it comes to female desire.

Kelsey Ramsden  31:51

I mean, I’ll let Sherry speak to this too. But for me, you know I’m not a scientist or a clinical psychologist so this coming from the typical female perspective, there’s two things that I’ve heard so many times in these research meetings or working on the protocol and designing it, and one has been there simply are not adequate solutions like this idea that there’s plenty of things on the market for folks of the opposite sex but for women, there’s really two drugs, both of which you would take forever and really are treating symptoms. So that’s one thing. And then the second thing is this idea that in those meetings, the way that the people speak about sex and desire is just so matter of fact, and just so assumed. And just so part of the human experience, because they talk about it so often, you know, for me, often this conversation has felt a bit like we were getting into taboo or for people who’ve been in this work for a long time. Such a big part of being human is sexuality, and I and I witnessed that ease in that conversation and I’m just so hoping that we get to the place that we get to talk about it as easily as we talk about Viagra, you know, those are my perspectives I know Sherry What do you think

Sherry Walling  33:26

You know as you asked your question, the thought that came to my mind was just that desire is so normal, it’s, it’s just so core to us and as Kelsey is identifying, you know when, when we speak about it openly without shame, just as you would speak about your pinky finger like it’s just part of you. That’s something that’s so refreshing to be in these rooms and and the thing that I am really helpful for as we talk about this project more have participants enrolled and really roll it out is that it will just slowly, slowly, slowly but also quickly begin to really normalize that desire is a core part of who we are.

Laurie Segall  34:07

And what kind of people are enrolling in this I’d love even specifically with the study I mean, it’s, it is really fascinating, and it sounds like you guys have put quite a bit. Quite a bit of research into this already, I didn’t realize this is going on for six months and what kind of folks and what kind of participants do you have, is it all age ranges, is it a certain type of demographic.

Sherry Walling  34:29

So it’s premenopausal women. Okay. And so these are women who our cut off is 45 Sorry.

Kelsey Ramsden  34:42

So 21 to 45 is the age range, that will be enrolling into the program, and I hesitate to forecast enrollment but I suspect you know it will be within a 12 month period. Absolutely. And you know one of the things I think is important to, to invite the audience is this idea of like we want this to be an open conversation as well, we don’t want to just be like, you know, here’s what it is sign up everybody, we want this to be something that people want to share their stories want to talk about how it affects them want to talk about what they’re seeing want to talk about desire. And, and so that will start you know it starts today really having this conversation with you in opening opening that conversation for women and and men, you know, because I think that one of the other interesting things is a number of fellows I talked to of course being in capital markets a lot of a lot of the people in the finance world are asking me, How does this affect me how does this relate to me like, Does this mean that you know that, that it’s, it’s not really me. It’s not you, it is a real thing. And so inviting, the men also into the conversation about how these kinds of things can affect their relationship and their sense of connectedness to their partners, as well as women in same sex relationships too.

Sherry Walling  36:08

Yeah, yeah. And just one quick note, it’s not that desire cuts off at 45 It’s just that we can’t really narrowly, we have to be real specific in our criteria as we are assessing female hypoactive sexuality or sexual disorder so it’s a very specific sort of criteria so it’s the geeky part of science there’s 00 in in dication that desire cuts off at that age or is limited to that age brackets.

Kelsey Ramsden  36:36

Also, this, this can affect men as well there are men with a lack of desire out there 100% But you know, since we’re a female led organization and we think that the ladies can use something we thought we might focus on that.

Laurie Segall  36:50

And I want to welcome we have live tuning folks in the stage so if you guys have questions, please feel free to introduce yourself and jump in. Maybe Rachel. 

Rachel Ogan  37:05

Hey, It’s Rachel, so nice to be here. I’m completely resonating with everything that you guys are talking about and I’m so grateful that there’s women who are actually doing doing these experiments and studies psychedelics in 2017 completely changed my life. I yeah, I could cry even talking about a completely changed my life, and I’ve worked with Iosco San Pedro. Now I’m a Kambo detox practitioner buffo just so many, so many different psychedelics that I’ve experienced, and each time it’s, it’s, you know, really opened up a part of my brain that was completely just shut off from anxiety and depression for so many years. So, every time I’ve had an experience, it really unlocked something but the most recent. I lost experience I go somewhere in Costa Rica this place called Red Mia, it’s actually medically licensed to serve I woke up and my last experience there was 2019 I’m going back. I go every two years. But you know I work with mushrooms and other things in between that, but the last experience was really activating for me with sexual desires and it really activated my root chakra, the, the, one of the ceremonies when I was there I was just shaking my body and I didn’t really know what was going on now I was just listening to the medicine, and through that experience. I was shown how I used to dance when I was younger, it was yeah the dance teacher. I guess she embarrassed me, and she made me sit on the couch because I was about, like 11 or 12 I was talking during class. And so I quit dance and I never danced again, so I had to go through the process of forgiving the dance teacher, but the metal. They helped to Peter, dance, and so then taking that experience later into life of integration, what is this dance of this medicine is talking about and I looked up a static dance, and through there I found intuitive movement and embodiment practices, and now I’ve I’m able to move my body in a way that is just like really in touch with sound and the land and nature on Earth, and from from doing that. My sexual pleasure has completely changed and I learned that you know all about activating your kundalini shakti energy and it was all through this, this dance but it’s this intuitive wisdom that you get from, you know, unlocking parts of your brain that I would have never known. And it’s just, I’m so glad you guys are doing this I just want to share a little bit of that story because these medicines are life changing, and I think it takes, You know, a really deep desire to improve your life in a way that you would go to, you know, doing a psychedelic, but,

Kelsey Ramsden  40:22

Yeah, that’s amazing. Thanks. I, you know one thing and Sherry chime in on this one for me because I’m not sure but my sense and the you know the knowing that I have is that a lot of women who experienced some kind of material negative experience can can often disconnect from their bodies. I remember an intake for my, For my first psychedelic psychotherapy session that was a question said, Have you ever had an out of body experience. And my response was a bit flimsy I said, I’m not sure I’ve ever had an in body experience. And then in debriefing with the therapist, we had this long conversation about how a lot of people disassociate from living in their bodies when they experience some form of trauma that’s related to being present physically. Is it, like, is that Sherry maybe you can walk through. 

Sherry Walling  41:21

Yeah, I think about your story Rachel and your little 11 year old self who’s losing movement right who’s dancing and and did it wrong right didn’t follow the rules or get scolded and was told to sit down and stop moving and again I don’t know you, so I want to analyze you but there’s that sense of, we get separated we get told that our movement our intuition our embodied self is wrong or unacceptable or not okay and so it detaches. Yeah, and that, that right there is where we lose desire right the, the sense of having a heart and a body that’s in movement together and embodying itself. And so that sense of detachment is really absolutely pervasive in our society in women especially, and, and to bring it back to this intervention I think is where I’m really hopeful because it is such an embodied practice it’s I am I’ve been practicing talk therapy for 15 years, I am a believer, but this is so much more than talk therapy because we can get into the body in both a chemical way but also in the kinds of integration practices where we’re helping people remember how to move naturally in their own movement their own sort of intuitive understanding of how their body moves so absolutely. Amen, Hallelujah, you’re spot on in terms of that importance of reconnecting with the body and movement to this deep level healing.

Laurie Segall  42:51

Can you call, I mean I think it’s such an interesting point you talk about revisiting trauma how that relates to sexuality and desire and how this can can help. I’m curious, can you just specifically take me to let’s say, I might regret saying this but right like let’s say I signed up for this study right you guys decided to utilize me for this study for this research, what could I expect I mean what I just love I think I think it’s so fascinating and specifically, you know, we speak a lot broadly about desire and whatnot but in this specific case, with what you guys are doing, like, take us behind closed doors, right I mean not to behind the closed are talking psychedelics and sex. But But what exactly are the people participating this going to experience. Yeah,

Sherry Walling  43:43

So they, you know, it is a research project so it starts with a lot of paperwork labs of course traders that kind of stuff. And then, in a first the first few kind of psychotherapy sessions we’re getting into some, some history someone’s personal history and then we’re also beginning to prepare someone for a medicine session. So some initial conversation about what you might expect, which is tricky with psychedelics, because there’s a whole range of experiences that people can experience in the context of a medicine session. But, in the, you know, in the process, there’s usually a pairing of two therapists, so you have a clinical team who kind of walks you through each of the preparation sessions, and will be present for the medicine session, so the medicine sessions can be between four to six to eight hours so depending on how fast your body reacts a couple of other variables. So, where, you know, generally, there’s a feeling of empathy, there’s a feeling of some sense of sort of pleasure. There’s a sense of some for some people memory returning to memories that they may have have earlier life experiences, maybe seeing those memories in different ways, maybe seeing people in their life in different ways so that’s where we are controllability and science we let go of that a little bit and just sort of acknowledge that people are going to have their own journey in the medicine. Oh yeah, go ahead.

Kelsey Ramsden  45:28

I was just gonna say maybe for the people who, you know, haven’t been following the space as much what that session can look like is, is in a room in a setting that might look a bit like your living room, and generally the person who’s undergoing the therapeutic process would have kind of like eyeshades you know when you sleep on an aeroplane or something like that you’ve got these, these ice sheets on that help keep the room dark, and you may have music playing in some headphones like it’s really this idea of setting setting, you hear talked about in the psychedelics industry quite a bit but that’s what that might look like, and the actual experience of it itself is really both inward and outward so going into almost like, like watching a movie, you know you’re present and you’re fully engaged and you’re there and you’re, you’re observing it kind of this like active passive way. And I can’t really explain it any, any better than after this year I’m sure you’ll do a better job but, but then if you want, if you, if you know if the sense comes to you that you want to share or speak with the people who are holding the space in the room for you. You can lift up your eye shades and engage with them and have quite a, you know, a conversation and sharing the moment or what it was that you were coming to feel or understand, and then return back into space where you’re exploring again so that’s kind of for the people who are listening or thinking like okay am I like seeing things melter like Pink Floyd concert like what’s going on. It’s not quite the same as you know the college experience so I just wanted to drop in and paint that bit.

Sherry Walling  47:19

For MDMA is a class of psychedelic called entactogenic we which means to turn within. So it isn’t that sort of classic like little group men bopping around on the wall that you might think of with sort of the hallucinogenic quality of a psychedelic it really is that that as Kelsey described that sort of internal and outward experience of going deep within oneself, but then also feeling a sense of connection to your, to the people who are with you to your therapist, and often wanting to talk with them to process to share and, you know feel that sense of bond and connection with others. 

Laurie Segall  48:03

How do you guys eventually see this being used in a mainstream way? Do you think this could hit mainstream?

Sherry Walling  48:10

Oh It’s coming. I mean the new, the New England Journal of Medicine just published a study, which really indicates that, you know, psilocybin is probably a better treatment for depression than standard SSRIs, so it’s the science is there. It’s not perfect, it’s not all the way down, we’re not always through FDA and, you know, but the science is there for this kind of intervention to be more and more common. And when you think about it from a even a cost perspective, what, what does it cost to have someone in therapy for years and years or to be taking medication for years and years versus this treatment which is more like a surgery it’s more like, let’s get in there intensively for three months. And it doesn’t mean the work is done in that time, because these are likely like life changing sort of transformational experiences and often they involve ongoing support but it’s, it’s deeper it’s more effective. And I’ve become the gold standard in 15 years across the board in mental health.

Laurie Segall  49:24

I mean what safety precautions do you guys take when you because you are dealing with something as sensitive, right, as, as the, the brain and bringing up trauma and a lot of this type of stuff so I’m curious behind the scenes what you guys have talked about as you know when it comes to making these. This research safe and making it, you know, making it something that, you know, could potentially go mainstream.

Sherry Walling  49:49

So once again we’re not writing the book from scratch in the sense that we already have pretty strong, robust research related to brain changes related to potential addiction risk kind of think about any possible thing that could go wrong and MAPs and, you know, other research organizations have already begun looking at that which is why we don’t have the burden of of establishing MDMA as a safe product to use in humans that’s already been well established. But in terms of the clinical element you know we’re monitoring heart rate, we’re monitoring biometrics, to sort of assess how someone is doing and how they’re responding, and again we follow up, follow up, follow up, this is not a take home solution this is not something where people go in, you know, they fly down to Mexico for a weekend have this experience and go back into their normal life. I mean, that works I suppose for some people that that is not what we are talking about we’re talking about a medical protocol that goes over a course of months with a ton of, you know, support. 

Laurie Segall  50:57

Yeah, and Renee I want to make sure we get to you because we had. We know you’ve been up here for some time. You’re in the cannabis industry so do you want to introduce yourself and ask folks up here some questions.

Renee Gagnon  51:12

Yes, hi just wanted to mostly throw flowers for creating this for creating the program that you’re discussing. As a trans woman who’s been in psychedelic since the 80s. It’s provided both the means for understanding my own sexuality and how my body works, But when I became recently a wife to a childhood trauma survivor. We were able to begin looking at the use of silicides And for that, and the SSRIs and seeing how that can and influenced my corporate life, my corporation is currently licensed for psychedelics in Canada. And so my goal is eventually therapeutics in depth females to specifically aid with mental health, and so I just wanted to thank everybody on stage for this topic, and just keep doing it. Thank you.

Laurie Segall  52:15

Oh, that’s lovely. Yeah, no thank you for sharing that. And yeah, I think it really is. Because I think why I was so attracted to this conversation is, is it’s not new to talk about psychedelics for mental health, although I do believe it’s important, right, it is new to really take it from this angle that you guys are, you know, are pushing right which is really looking at psychedelics and sex I mean you’re putting a lot of buzzwords together right in a way that is, I would say is, is brave and fascinating for some of this research I and so I’m very curious to see what type of what, you know what type of research you guys are going to come up with out of this I am. I am very curious so we had Paul Stamets on, this is probably about a month ago and, and, you know, my background is I cover Silicon Valley. I’ve covered technology for over, you know, for over a decade, and you know you you’re seeing more and more people talk about psychedelics it’s becoming mainstream in a, in a way where people realize you can make a lot of money off of, you know a lot of businesses are being built. I think with that monetize on psychedelics and when we’re talking mental health now. You know I think Paul said something that was interesting because I had asked him if he was concerned about, you know, Silicon Valley kind of getting on the Gold Rush of psychedelics without a lot of the scientific research behind it. You talk about putting together a whole dream team of, you know, a very capable folks to do this research and study this research. Are you concerned that there is so serious so much hype about this? That some folks are going to get involved that might not have the pedigree to do this and we could be looking at safety concerns.

Kelsey Ramsden  54:09

I mean, I think about it in two ways one is psychedelics aren’t new, it’s been going on for a long time and. So to some degree. There is no way for us to kind of safety control the whole industry that’s an ongoing thing. But I think the second part is the more that we do the research and inform what a safe setting can look like, and inform the best practices, I think, you know, women will choose trusted partners, I mean that’s the best one of the lovely things I love about women is we transact on trust, and most things are shared, person to person. So I feel like as we evolve and go through this research and develop the industry. There, you know, there always is, or are bad actors and, and I think in often times they don’t need to tank to be, like I mentioned at the beginning psychedelics are like sitting behind the wheel of a Ferrari, you know, you don’t put someone in training wheels, find the Ferrari. And so there is some exposure there but again I think specifically with respect to this indication and this research and and using MDMA with psychotherapy for lack of desire, I think in the long run we will see women turning to trusted partners because it is such a close and tender part of who we are, our connection to self another and relationship and desire that I’m confident, you know, women will choose with trust.

Laurie Segall  55:45

Great and Lisa we just said you joined and I want to be mindful of everyone’s time, so we only have a couple minutes left but you know we want to make sure to include as many folks as we can in this conversation so do you want to introduce yourself.

Lisa Rueff  55:58

Sure. And I’m driving so I’m not sure how great my reception is.

Laurie Segall  56:02

Okay, well it sounds good for now. Okay great,

Lisa Rueff  56:06

So I am just thoroughly loving this conversation, I have a background in health and wellness and I have been leading a lot of plant medicine ceremonies, as well as just educating people on this subject and I just I love it, especially since, you know, the chakra system alone, the second chakra, our Sacral Chakra is all about procreation, not only are we creating new babies what we’re, but we’re also birthing new ideas and tapping into our imagination and our creativity, And so I find liking my life like speaking.

Laurie Segall  56:49

We might be living the juiciness of who we are, we missed the beginning of it and ended up with the juiciness of who we are. So, we missed the middle of your answer.

Lisa Rueff  57:03

Okay, can you hear me?

Rachel Ogan  57:04

yeah I can hear you now. Okay,

Lisa Rueff  57:07

So, yeah. How you know with the use of psychedelics were able to tap into the different energetic parts.

Laurie Segall  57:21

Well, we lost you I know

Sherry Walling  57:26

who you are, though.

Laurie Segall  57:28

I know I do too, and we’re gonna have to do another one of these conversations, I would love to end it. You know, Sherry and Kelsey to with you to, you know, we’ve got to, we got to this a bit at the beginning, but, you know, as long as I’ve covered technology in Silicon Valley, it’s always interesting to interview founders and it’s the most passionate founders are the ones who, You know what they do is incredibly personal to them. They’re obsessed with it to some degree. So Kelsey I’m curious to you, you know, why is this personal to you.

Kelsey Ramsden  58:06

I mean psychedelics and so I guess psychedelic assisted psychotherapy transformed my life. And I think you hear that from, from a lot of folks who’ve undergone it with respect to therapy and just, you know, generally with respect to spirit. So coming into this work was that for me but this particular project, I think, you know, sometimes there’s those of course moments and I look across the industry I’m the only female CEO of the psychedelics company that’s public I have a platform. I feel like now is the time that society really, we can have conversations about Women, and Sexuality and I feel a little bit like teas. If not now When and if not, you know, it’s, it’s, it feels a lot like that and then when you reach out to these researchers and people to ask them to join our team and Sherry included in that and it’s a resounding yes. You know, those people have careers and academic histories on the line that for that strong of an absolutely I want to be on this project, tells me that it’s time to have these conversations, and, you know, that’s, that’s kind of how I orient to it and how I feel about the timeliness of it, and the readiness of it, I don’t know, Sherry What about you.

Sherry Walling  59:34

Yeah I mean I also come to this work from a really deep place I come, professionally, because I’ve worked with these stories for so many years, and want to see better solutions, but sort of return of life spark for the people that I serve. But on a more personal level, I lost my own brother to suicide a couple of years ago, and I think that was the sort of catalytic moment of saying, hey, this isn’t working, like the treatments that are available, the way that we’re framing mental health isn’t working. And, at least in his experience. I wish so much for him to be able to restore to a sense of joy, and it’s a little different than what we’re talking about in this project but it is a conceptualization of mental health that says that your joy, your capacity for desire your happiness matters and that’s what we’re going for. And so yeah it’s it’s largely out of his life and death that I do this work because I, I’m ready to like break some shit and start over and build it better, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to work with Kelsey.

Laurie Segall  1:00:50

Well I think that’s a really powerful way to end and I’m so sorry to hear about your brother and it certainly makes a lot of sense that in a tragedy like that with a death like that this, that there would make sense that this is very much your life’s work to so I you know I really commend both of you guys for what you’re working on, I think it’s super interesting. And I just, I love the type of stuff that people kind of scratch their heads at first and say wait what, you know, psychotherapy research with psychedelics and sex and all these kinds of things together and you put, you know when you guys speak about it. It certainly makes a lot of sense and it’s really personal, in a way that I think a lot of women can relate to. So I appreciate you guys both being here today, let folks know, where can they find you. Are you all booked up for the study, you know, where can you know where can we learn more about this.

Kelsey Ramsden  1:01:44

Yeah, I think ways forward if people have comments, questions, want to be kept appraised of the research want to be considered to be a part of a part of the study. You can find this at You can find, I think, Sherry and I both on Instagram, more, more often than not, so I’m @KelseyRamsden, Sherry, Where are we going to find you

Sherry Walling  1:02:08

@SherryWalling Sherry spelled like the wine. I also want to plug that we do have a podcast that Mind Cure sponsors where we talk about this topic and kind of all of the, a variety of topics related to mental health and I have the amazing privilege of hosting that. So, that is free and available and obviously a way to continue the conversation and we love new listeners and we love your feedback.

Kelsey Ramsden  1:02:32


Laurie Segall  1:02:34

Well, thank you so much for joining. And again, we’re Dot Dot Dot Media so please feel free to follow us, we’re gonna have some more interesting content next week, and you can also check out my Instagram it’s @LaurieSegall, and I’m going to give a shameless plug of my book that’s coming out next year which I think, I think I spoke earlier about sex, drugs Silicon Valley, the special I did I get very interested details of that in the book, it’s called Special Characters my adventures the text Titans and misfits and you can pre order it online on Amazon or Barnes and Noble so we get into a lot of these nuanced interesting issues too and they’re so ladies thank you so much. And we’ll be in touch I can’t wait to follow this research.

Kelsey Ramsden  1:03:18

Thank you, Laurie, it’s been a blast and thanks to Lisa and Annie and in Renee who shared in the conversation everyone ended this like, it’s great to bring this to the forefront and you know sex and psychedelics it’s, it is the future.

Laurie Segall  1:03:34

Awesome, Thank you. Have a good night everyone.