Michael Albert
Doctoral candidate

Psychopharmacology in an Age of Planetary Crisis: What Role for Psychedelics? We live in an age of converging crises, and the fields of psychotherapy and psychopharmacology have a critical role to play in addressing them. However, these fields continue to naturalise the consumer capitalist “reality principle” that is at the root of these crises: a vision of the human as a rational, ego-centric, utility-maximising agent that is autonomous from nature and community. Might the recent psychedelic renaissance help form the basis of a more transformative alternative? I will suggest that psychedelics have the potential to constitute an alternative paradigm of mental health and psychopharmacology, though this requires challenging the consumer capitalist reality principle head on rather than merely promoting a novel form of therapy that helps individuals adjust to the stresses of capitalist existence. Michael Albert is a Ph.D. student at Johns Hopkins University working at the intersection of International Relations, Political Theory, and sustainability studies. His dissertation develops a theoretical framework drawing from complex systems theory and critical political economy to map the converging crises of the 21st century – in particular the crises of global capitalism, energy, and the earth system – and illuminate possibilities for world systemic transformation over the coming decades. His future work will investigate counter-hegemonic movements – including degrowth, ecosocialism, transition towns, and indigenous sovereignty – and consider their potential for creating alternative political economies as the crises of global capitalism and the earth system intensify. Mike is also a Zen Buddhist trying to discover a balance between radical activism and spiritual acceptance, between struggling for a better world and finding love and acceptance amidst a world in the throes of collapse. This is still a work in process, and it remains to be seen how the tension between these two poles of Mike’s existence will be resolved.