Psilocybin Therapy: Paradox and the Unity of Opposites

The road up and the road down are one and the same. ~Heraclitus

The psychologist Carl Jung believed that if we are able to hold the tension of the opposites within ourselves, our consciousness becomes whole and healed. He wrote, “the ego keeps its integrity only if it does not identify with one of the opposites, and if it understands how to hold the balance between them. This is only possible if it remains conscious of both at once. Holding the tension of opposites grows consciousness, wholeness and soul.”

The healing potential of this principle seems relevant to our highly polarized times. What if we were able to become more comfortable holding this tension of two opposing views? What if societal emphasis was placed on wholeness and inclusivity—two qualities that tend to be healing.

Holding the tension of opposites gracefully is difficult. We are taught to see things as either/or: good or bad, right or wrong, grief or love, happy or sad. When we become so entrenched in one pole of a polarity, things start to get complicated. We forget the bigger picture. We start to be positional rather than relational. We can become more rigid and less free in each moment.

So how can psychedelics help heal this very human and survival-based tendency?

Research suggests that psilocybin can help by inducing a mystical state. Up to 80% of people using psilocybin in the right dosage and the right set and setting will access a mystical state.

Psychologists measure mystical experiences using the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ). The MEQ looks at these subjective aspects of a psychedelic experience: internal/external unity, positive mood, a sense of sacredness, noetic quality, paradoxicality, ineffability and transcendence of time and space.

Of these aspects of the MEQ, the ones most relevant to holding the “tension of opposites” are paradoxicality and unity consciousness. During a psilocybin session it is common to visit both poles of an inner polarity, and sometimes simultaneously. This experience can lead to healing and wholeness.

It is interesting to note that people who score high on the MEQ after a psilocybin session tend to have the greatest remission in their depression and/or anxiety. They become more whole through radical inclusivity and acceptance of the polarities within. If wholeness is the pathway to healing, then psilocybin therapy may be a pathway to peace and contentment, inside and out.

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