Support the edition of my project "Mother's therapy" by pre-purchasing a copy! Release planned for spring 2021.
Support the edition of my project "Mother's therapy" by pre-purchasing a copy! Release planned for spring 2021.
After more than four years of research and photography, my greatest joy and ambition would be to be able to share these photographs with you in an editing project published by The Eriskay Connection.
Please find below more information about the project
Since ten years I had the intuition that psychedelic mushroom might constitute an alternative to the psychiatric treatment of my mother. She was diagnosed as bipolar more than twenty years ago, and the drugs prescribed to her paradoxically heavily degraded her health. My research on psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychedelic prodrug compound produced by around 180 species of fungus, led me through prehistoric times, mycology and medicine. From the painted caves in southern France and traditional medicinal practices in the jungle of Peru, to the scientists researching psilocybin in London and Zürich, Mother’s Therapy unites the science and the human. With texts and images, the book provides context to the psilocybin-based cure given to my mother – apparently with some success. No militancy, I simply submitting the relevant material to the record.
Over the past decade, the use of psychedelics in the area of mental illnesses such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and addictions has been undergoing a renaissance. Studies on the safety and effectiveness of psychedelics in the treatment of these illnesses are being conducted in the top scientific institutions. Among these institutions are the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the Imperial College in London, the University of Zurich or the Biomedical Research Institute of Sant Pau in Barcelona.
Psilocybin, the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms, is part of a promising approved treatment for depression.
The project on the subject that is still "sensitive" could initiate certain reflections and clarify preconceived ideas on these powerful molecules.
INTERVIEW WITH MATHIAS DE LATTRE
By Réjane Éreau
Psychedelic medicines are part of the world’s history in your view?
We know that these mushrooms were here on Earth before humanity, and it’s also well-known that pre-Columbia populations used them in their sacred rites. I wanted to explore this past, and so I began to research the prehistory, archaeology, mycology and ethno-botany of fungi. There are about 180 species of psilocybe mushrooms distributed across the continents, with the exception of Antarctica.
Prehistoric man had an intimate connection with his environment. For example, Ötzi, a 5300-year-old naturally mummified body, was found in the Alps, frozen and dehydrated – he carried medicinal mushrooms with him. Moreover, some prehistorians point out that the first humans knew about modified states of consciousness, and that elements of their rock art, especially the anthropomorphic animal representations, may have been the result of shamanic trances. I'm not saying that these images were necessarily induced by hallucinogenic substances, but I have tried to bridge the gap between these different forms of knowledge. What is certain is that the First People had a more open and spiritual vision of the world than we do. We have a lot to learn from them.
When did this interest become part of your mother's story?
Over the past ten years, as I have learned more about this medicine, I have also been witness to my mother's descent into the depths of depression. My mother was diagnosed as bipolar late in life, when she was in her late forties. Bipolarity is an invisible disability, which tends to be downplayed in the lives of those who suffer from it. It is still difficult to pinpoint where bipolar comes from. Genetics is important, as are the memories of certain traumas experienced in early childhood, prior to adolescence, when the first symptoms appear. Mental disorders are also diseases of the soul. So the problem is this complexity of being and also the lack of progress in psychiatry. No substantial discoveries about the illness have been made in the past seventy years. Even now, there is no cure for this multi-factorial (multi-causal) condition, but only partial relief from some of the symptoms.
As a person who suffers from type 2 bipolar disorder, my mother’s depressive, melancholic cycles have always dominated. Her manic or hypomanic phases were shorter in duration and more easily managed. Growing up with her, I witnessed her mood swings of often extreme amplitude, which could occur on a daily basis. The many pills she had to swallow every day confused her without stabilising her. While there is a range of neuroleptics available in psychiatry to calm the agitation of ‘up’ phases, there is no medication to correct the ‘down’ phases and lift the mood, even electroshock does not guarantee anything. My mother's life deteriorated considerably, leading her further and further into decline. It has been hell. The side effects of the many drugs prescribed to her deteriorated her health, weakening her bones, teeth and immune system, and promoting all forms of allergies. She no longer has any memory or ability to concentrate. I was scared that – at the very least – she would end her life in a psychiatric hospital.
At least 75 percent of bipolar patients end up depressed; they have fewer ‘up’ moments as they grow older. Even though my mother had never been passive in the face of her illness, even though she had always fought or rather struggled, her social isolation had become inevitable. I could not continue to witness her decay. I had to try to find a solution to see her regain her true face, her personality, her alertness, her culture, her spirituality.
How did you find out about possible treatments?
All this time I was reading books and articles about psychedelic medication. Psychedelic medicine experienced a major boom in the 1940s and 1950s, and then it was banned. Today, it is in full rebirth.
Only when I was sure of the therapeutic potential of these medicines, under the supervision of professionals and specialists, did I discuss the subject with my mother. She was willing, especially since her psychiatrist no longer knew how to help her. I then set out to find a psychiatrist who was familiar with the benefits and use of psilocybin, as well as the medication itself. I went to London to meet Robin Carhart-Harris, David Nutt and their research team at Imperial College, and I subsequently travelled to the University Psychiatric Clinic in Zurich to meet Dr Franz Vollenweider. I learned that the case of bipolar patients was considered complicated, and that no clinical trials had yet been performed. Physicians preferred not to embark on risky experimentation.
Later, a psychotherapist based in San Francisco put me in touch with a psychiatrist-psychotherapist who had undertaken shamanic training in Mexico among the descendants of the healer María Sabina. He had been working with hallucinogenic mushrooms as treatment for addiction or depression for a long time. He agreed to look at my mother's case, even though he had never dealt with anything like that before. To prepare the groundwork, my mother went through a two-year detox, gradually removing all chemical drugs from her body. At the end of this period she was only taking two drugs, in benign doses. After twenty years of daily consumption it was a difficult and painful struggle, despite the psychological support of her therapist. Trust and love kept her going.
Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of the Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research, said: “This new Centre represents a watershed moment for psychedelic science; symbolic of its now mainstream recognition. Psychedelics are set to have a major impact on neuroscience and psychiatry in the coming years. It’s such a privilege to be at the forefront of one of the most exciting areas in medical science. I am immensely grateful to the donors who have made all of this possible.”
It may take a few years for psychedelic therapy to be available for patients, but research so far has been very encouraging. Early-stage clinical research has shown that when delivered safely and professionally, psychedelic therapy holds a great deal of promise for treating some very serious mental health conditions and may one day offer new hope to vulnerable people with limited treatment options.”
How is she today?
Today, my mother is doing well and her condition has improved considerably. We have managed to sustain her progress by setting up a micro-dosing schedule, a prescription that is becoming increasingly widespread, wherein treatment is administered weekly. All my mother’s relatives were and still are surprised to see how stabilised and balanced her mood has become. She herself is surprised to discover that she can cope with the vagaries of daily life without overreacting in one way or another. She has regained a vital momentum that gives her the energy and motivation she needs to rebuild her life and reclaim her social life as well.
Do you think your mother’s treatment could be extrapolated to help other bipolar?
Of course, it’s not possible to say that this solution would work for every patient. Each individual is different, and there is still a lack of hindsight and exhaustive tests on the
different types of bipolar disorder that exist. My goal has never been to proselytize, but simply to share my testimony, recounting this personal experience that has been full of hope and perseverance. This is my mother's story. Just the story of a human being, of her journey and her subjective truth.
How I realized this project:
I totally self-financed these four years of the project, investing more than 9.000€.
I made my photographs with a 4x5 camera.
From my first shot in 2016, at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, I had been thinking about telling this story through a book.
During these four years, I had been doing an intensive research in the mycological, ethnobotanical and archaeological field, including rock art.
I traveled many times in the southwest of France, as far as Spain, to photograph the caves frequented by prehistoric men.
I was able to realize collaborations with some museums in Paris and Germany.
At the same time, I went to London, Zurich and the Peruvian Amazon to meet and take portraits of scientists, doctors and healers who work with psychedelics.
I finally found someone who could start working on my mother’s case and helped her to stop her previous treatment that was harmful for her body and mind.
Where is the project at the moment? :
The dummy is soon finished!
Release date :
The book is expected to be released in the spring of 2021.
THANK YOU so much to all of you for your support! It is thanks to you that this book will be able to see the light of day!
Waar dient de collecte voor
What will the collection be used for :
The total budget for the book is € 24000 (including editing, design, lithography and production) for a print run of 750 copies. The costs for editing, design and lithography are already covered, but I still need to collect € 10500 for the production of the book. My crowdfunding goal is € 5000, because this is the minimum amount I still require to make the book possible while investing some of my own money. But anything extra is very much appreciated, as I will be able to save some of my own funds.