Welcome to episode 22. Today’s kind of an exciting conversation on many levels. If you’ve been following my work and my podcast, you’ll have gleaned some of the important ideas around how difficult it is to get through some of the more defensive ways that human beings deal with the world. We are so exquisitely intelligent and wired for survival that our environments growing up and generationally contribute to create these very sophisticated, emotional matrixes that govern us. And to some extent, as you’ll hear me and my guest, Joe Satin Levin, talk about today, the processes of these shifting grounds underneath our feet as we mature and try to make sense of ourselves and the world and answer certain existential questions, a lot of that is is often out of our hands. And we are, in many ways, here for the ride and we kind of just need to pay attention and let certain events in our life affect us and to take them seriously. 


On the other hand, as Joe opens up about today when he helps us understand neurodivergency, what that means, how it affects people, and really a contemporary way of appreciating the different ways that people are wired, it can really affect our ability to have relationships with ourselves and with others. The reason that Joe ended up on the podcast with me today is that he wrote a very moving piece, an essay which I introduce in the podcast, that I read and it touched me. Not only is he a great writer and super intelligent but he took a risk in the piece to name some very personal parts of his own journey towards dealing with medication and entering into the world of looking into the effects of psychedelics on human beings and in the healing process. 


I have had the privilege of looking at some of the more current research, particularly with MDMA in the United States and PTSD with soldiers. It’s fascinating from the point of view of how it contributes to us being able to get through these intransigent ways that the human being protects themselves. This has been our quest as human beings for thousands of years. It is not new, this question, at all. The idea of coming to our own self-awareness and consciousness has brought with it a tremendous weight and burden as we reflect our own existence to ourselves and to others and all the ways that that goes right but all the ways that that can go so terribly wrong. We are often just hanging by a thread in terms of our own sanity and I think this is really at the heart of our conversation today which is how we maintain our identity, how our identities become sometimes supremely rigid, inflexible, and also at moments in life when we all of a sudden become aware of parts of ourselves that were previously hidden to us that are crucial. 


Joe tells a beautiful story in the podcast today about a moment with his son where he becomes aware of himself and his relationship to his son and this emotional pivot that he made to hold his son in mind. That’s another theme that, of course, you will recognize from my work and from the conversations I’ve had with you and with others here. 


I’m always kind of tickled and it’s a continual process of restoring my faith in the world when these moments of I wouldn’t say synchronicity, but just sort of when things align and I’m touched in a way that inspires me to reach out to people that not only I love but also when there’s a convergence of our lives. This was one of these cases where I’m here with Joe Satin Levin, my old neighbour but also now a future colleague who is jumping into the psychotherapy fray and, in particular, passionately writing about and trying to disseminate information on some of the most exciting frontiers in psychotherapy. 


So, without further ado, I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Show Highlights:

  • How Joe’s article came to be.
  • What neurodiversity is and what it means to Joe specifically.
  • The internal and unconscious aspects of being social for the neurodivergent.
  • The decaying of personality we all go through as we mature.
  • Why we need to wrestle with our privilege. 
  • Modern stigmas around medication.
  • Why people need more stimulation today.
  • What Joe’s medication allows him to do.
  • His experience of feeling unworthy.


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Mitchell Smolkin is a sought-after clinician, speaker, and author. For media and interview requests please contact his publicist Randy Phipps at randy@rpcommunications.net. For all other inquiries, please send mail to info@mitchellsmolkin.com.


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