Conversations between Dr. Devon Christie & Dr. Gabor Maté: The Power of Psychedelic Medicine
May 17, 2022

Conversations between Dr. Devon Christie & Dr. Gabor Maté: The Power of Psychedelic Medicine

In this exclusive fireside chat, Numinus’ Senior Lead for Psychedelic Programs, Dr. Devon Christie, speaks with retired physician and bestselling author, Dr. Gabor Maté, on psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and its transformative healing power.

“Psychedelics are the road to the unconscious. In the proper hands, in the proper context with the right guidance” – Dr. Gabor Maté

Dr. Devon Christie is the Senior Lead for Psychedelic Programs at Numinus and is a recognized speaker and expert on the potential for incorporating psychedelic-assisted therapies in an improved health care model for the future. In this exclusive fireside chat, Dr. Christie sat down with Dr. Gabor Maté, a retired physician and bestselling author highly sought after for his expertise on addiction, trauma, childhood development, and the relationship between stress and illness, to discuss his thoughts on the effectiveness of psychedelic-assisted therapy.  

Listen in as Dr Maté speaks about psychedelic medicine’s capacity to reach the depths of the unconscious we cannot typically access. He strongly believes it can provide transformative healing power when combined with the right therapeutic support and integration practice. 

Full Transcript 

Dr. Christie 

Why do you advocate for psychedelic assisted psychotherapy?

Dr. Maté 

Because it works. Sigmund Freud called dreams the royal road to the unconscious, identifying very accurately that dreams are peripheral symbolic representations over internal mental life and that there is so much to be learned from them.  

Now his own interpretation of dreams, I think it was very ridiculous. I mean I have read his book Division of Dreams and he was just projecting all his own stuff. But nevertheless, dreams are the road to the unconscious cause because what happens in dreams is the conscious mind dissolves. When you are sleeping the parts of the brain that hold childhood emotional memories get more blood supply. 

So, these childhood memories arise and then the dreams will create a meaning out of the emotion that is arising. So, I might dream that Nazis are chasing me and I believe that I’m afraid that Nazis are chasing me because Nazis are chasing me. But in fact, I’m not afraid because Nazis are chasing me, Nazis are chasing me because I’m afraid. So that’s the emotion that arises first and then the story comes in that the mind makes up to explain the emotion. 

Now actually I would say that these days from the therapeutic point of view, psychedelics are the royal road to the unconscious because exactly what happens is the conscious mind, the defenses of the conscious mind and the constructions of the conscious mind just fragment a bit.  

 They get out of the way for a while and then whatever is in the unconscious can arise. And of course, in the unconscious is all the pain, terror, or suffering that we’ve tried to be trying to escape from and trying to push down with our depression or escape from with our addictions. But also, the beauty and all the entity and the connection that the conscious mind can’t deal with and fragments.  

So really psychedelics are the road to the unconscious. In the proper hands in the proper context with the right guidance, which is what we were trying to create here. You and I both had the experience. We both have witnessed people saying that these three days were more powerful than 10 years of psychotherapy. Now, of course it was especially given the hype. There is a lot of bad psychotherapy out there, but it just gets you to places that are so hard to get to for most people. Now, I’m not a psychedelic evangelist. I don’t think it’s for everybody. I also don’t think it’s going to save the world because I think that there are much bigger issues at stake than simply what we do as therapists. 

Nevertheless, for those that want to embark on a journey of self-healing and self-knowledge, there just isn’t a more efficient route than a well guided psychedelic experience again because the usual thought patterns and defenses dissolve and you really get to see what’s underneath it. And so, from my point of view, there’s no such thing as a bad trip. There are difficult ones, there are painful ones, but in the right context with the right guidance they’re the most powerful teachers. So, this is why I advocate for it. Then, you know, God bless all the people that will do all the research. And I know Numinus is doing more research but as far as I’m concerned, I don’t need a stitch more research to prove to me that these modalities work.  

Now it’s always good to refine it and to hone it, what dose and how many people are in the group, and these practical questions can always be worked with, but the actual principle of it that even modalities are powerfully supportive of healing and not just healing, in sort of a narrow sense, but also transformation. 

Dr. Christie 

The medicine experience opens up all this content, but it doesn’t stop there. You know, in fact, the, the bulk bigger part of the work is then unpacking all of that and then integrating it such that it really starts to help us to create changes in our lives going forward. And so really witnessing that it was very formative for me in terms of how to hold things well, what’s important, you know, there’s community. You know, the fact that people are healing together in a group and witnessing each other’s processes.  

Dr. Maté 

Absolutely. That’s so powerful. And I think that’s not being generally recognized throughout the psychedelic movement. You might say the importance of preparation of context of intention, setting of processing afterwards and then ultimately of integration.  

Dr. Christie 

Yeah. And so all of that has gone into our guiding approaches in, in our care model because that community piece and, and recognizing we’re not alone in this journey, other folks, healing journeys actually bear a lot of relevance to my own in listening to others. There’s parts of me that are healing there as well. And then being trauma informed to hold a safe space for these parts that can be so painful that can open and be safely held. 


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