Episode 17, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and YouTube


All episodes on all platforms and social channels

“As a psychiatrist, you're really trying to help people feel better about themselves and within themselves and stop suffering.”

Jerry Rosenbaum is a psychiatrist, a world-renowned expert on mood and anxiety disorders, and the director of the Center for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He was the Stanley Cobb Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard and the Chief of Psychiatry at Mass General for 17 years, from 2002-2019. During our conversation, Jerry talks about his career in psychiatry, the role of rumination in mental illness, the potential for psychedelics to help the suffering and improve human well-being, and the goals of the Center for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics.

About Jerry Rosenbaum (quote from Jerry’s LinkedIn):

“Jerry Rosenbaum is the Director at the Center for Neuroscience of Psychedelics at Massachusetts General Hospital Research Institute. He is the author of more than 400 original articles and reviews, and 20 books. He led longitudinal studies of children at risk for anxiety disorders and depression, which examined behavioral differences, risk factors, longitudinal outcomes, treatment, genetics, and brain structure and function of children of parents with mood and anxiety disorders. He is currently building a new MGH center (The Center for Neuroscience of Psychedelics), to use the knowledge of how psychedelics promote neuroplasticity to move the dial on the capacity for change and increase the efficacy of our current treatments, to make the term 'treatment-resistant' obsolete. He co-founded Psy Therapeutics to advance the discovery of novel drugs for psychiatric and neurologic disorders (www.psythx.com) and is co-founder of Sensorium Therapeutics, Inc.”

Support the show via Venmo
Support the show via PayPal
Support the show on Patreon

Time Stamps:

(00:00) Intro
(02:45) Jerry shares how he got into psychiatry, psychedelics and the role of rumination across mental illnesses
(09:19) Jerry talks about The Default Mode Network of the human brain - people who ruminate are found to be more active in that network.
(11:10) Jerry talks about the potential contributors to psychedelic study
(18:31) Funds and investments to psychedelic study
(24:02) Jerry discusses whether he was satisfied with the options available to help treat his patients in the past
(24:31) What is psychodynamic psychotherapy?
(27:21) Jerry’s thoughts on anti-depressants
(35:17) How does an antidepressant function?
(38:40) About ketamine and ketamine-assisted psychotherapy
(42:03) Jerry shares more about research on psychedelics and the different psychedelics available today
(45:08) Who would benefit the most from research?
(47:39) The controversy in the world around psychedelics
(51:26) What is the appropriate setting for taking psychedelics?
(01:04:53) Where are we right now in terms of the efficacy of psychotherapy and related treatments?
(01:09:09) How can individuals help in studies related to psychotherapy and psychiatry?
(01:12:05) Jerry’s words to people who wish to help or need help right now
(01:15:10) Jerry’s thoughts on accessibility for psychedelic medicines in the future
(01:18:39) Jerry shares how what the treatment experience looks like for individuals


“It looked like when people were experiencing ego dissolution, there were these profound changes in a very important network in the brain, called the default mode network.”

“Everybody knows people who have had a life-changing experience, a moving experience that allowed them to feel different in their skin. It's interesting, it reminds me a little bit of some of the experiences that people have in long-term psychotherapy.”

“As a psychiatrist, you're really trying to help people feel better about themselves and within themselves and stop suffering.”

“The only thing residents were trained in was psychodynamic psychotherapy. What is that for people who don't know: psychiatry or various schools of psychotherapy that evolved from the original psychoanalytic theories about the early developmental experience and how it shapes your personality and...defense mechanisms you have to use to deal with certain things that go awry in childhood.”

“So we started seeing (a) more and more treatment-resistant population, or people (who) got more treatment-resistant over time. Maybe, there are lots of possible explanations (as to) why.”

“Everybody has (had the) experience of something they regret, or might have felt humiliated about, you think about it, but you move on. But if you can't, you can't distract from it. And you get anguished. And it takes a lot of your time. And it's associated with escalating into distress, depressed mood, self-deprecatory thoughts. So it's...stuck thinking. It's a repetitive loop. It's driven in part by trying to have a feeling of trying to resolve it or get to a feeling of peace about it, but you can't and the more you do it, you actually feel worse and worse.”

“(An antidepressant) changes your state (and) somehow it allows the brain to change state (and) flip from one form of connectivity among various nodes in the brain to another.”

“That's the stuff that we want to try to understand: is there a path to knowing what psychedelics are doing beyond just binding to certain receptors and triggering changes in brain connectivity?”

Relevant Links:

Book mentioned:

People mentioned (quotes from various websites):

  • Sharmin Ghaznavi - "Sharmin Ghaznavi, MD, PhD, is associate director of the Center for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics and the Center’s director of cognitive neuroscience. Dr. Ghaznavi also serves as a psychiatrist at the Dauten Family Center for Bipolar Treatment Innovation and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. Her research interests include the neural correlates of rumination, self-related processing and other cognitive processes underlying mental illness. She has also been leading an initiative within the Department of Psychiatry to research rumination as a transdiagnostic phenomenon."
  • Ekaterina Malievskaia - “Ekaterina is the Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Compass Pathways, an organization committed to discovering and developing new therapies that will help patients and their families, and ease the burden on our overstretched healthcare systems.”
  • Stephen J. Haggarty - “Stephen Haggarty is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, an Assistant in Neuroscience at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Human Genetic Research, an Affiliate Faculty member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and the Director of Chemical Neurobiology for the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute, a research collaboration of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and its affiliated hospitals.”
  • Richard Evans Schultes - “Richard Evans was an American biologist. He may be considered the father of modern ethnobotany. He had charismatic influence as an educator at Harvard University; several of his students and colleagues went on to write popular books and assume influential positions in museums, botanical gardens, and popular culture.”
  • Jacob Hooker - “Jacob Hooker is an Associate Editor for ACS Chemical Neuroscience. The journal spotlights chemical, quantitative biological, biophysical and bioengineering approaches to the understanding of the nervous system and to the development of novel treatments for neurological disorders.”
  • George Goldsmith - “George Goldsmith is the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and Co‑founder of Compass Pathways.”
  • Michael Pollan - “Michael Pollan is the author of eight books, six of which have been New York Times bestsellers; three of them (including his latest, How to Change Your Mind) were immediate #1 New York Times bestsellers. Previous books include Cooked (2013), Food Rules (2009), In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (2008) and The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006), which was named one of the ten best books of 2006 by both the New York Times and The Washington Post.”
  • Bruce Rosen - “Bruce Rosen is an American physicist and radiologist and a leading expert in the area of functional neuroimaging. His research for the past 30 years has focused on the development and application of physiological and functional nuclear magnetic resonance techniques, as well as new approaches to combine functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data with information from other modalities such as positron emission tomography (PET), magnetoencephalography (MEG) and noninvasive optical imaging.”
  • David John Nutt - “David Nutt is an English neuropsychopharmacologist specializing in the research of drugs that affect the brain and conditions such as addiction, anxiety, and sleep. He is the chairman of Drug Science, a non-profit which he founded in 2010 to provide independent, evidence-based information on drugs.”
  • Rick Doblin - “Richard Elliot Doblin is an American drug activist and executive who is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.”

Connect with Jerry:

LinkedIn | Twitter