👩‍⚕️ Clarity Health Fund
Behavior Change

Psychedelics seem like they’ll be great for behavior change medical conditions, like alcoholism and smoking addiction. We think they might also help behavior change related things that aren’t medical conditions. Getting fit, being nicer to their family, spending less time watching TV, sleeping better, etc. Anything that someone might want to change, but not be changing. We’re not sure, but we think the potential is high.

“Imagine your brain as a snowy hill. Each decision you make is like sledding down the hill, causing a slight indentation in the snow. The more times you make a decision, the deeper the groove, the faster you make the decision and the harder it is to try something different and escape the groove. Psychedelics is like fresh powder on the hill won’t the grooves away so you can try new ways of thinking / new routes down the hill.” – everdev & Michael Pollan

We’d love to see proposals on how to cost-efficiently, safely and legally figure out whether this is true (for obesity, for other non-medical types of behavior change that people want, etc.)

Note: We’re of the opinion that recreational use of psychedelics or MDMA is extremely different to supervised therapeutic use. We think it may be the case that the preparation and integration are vital.

The below example is how psychedelics may help solve the medical condition of obesity.

Some obese people have food addictions.

Food addiction is associated with obesity (https://www.omicsonline.org/food-addiction-cause-or-consequence-of-obesity-2155-9600.1000e110.php?aid=7294)

Psychedelics seem uniquely suited to treating addictions.

80% 6 month smoking quitting success vs <35% for leading smoking addiction treatments.

“There was evidence for a beneficial effect of LSD on alcohol misuse (OR, 1.96; 95% CI, 1.36-2.84; p = 0.0003).” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22406913)

Somehow, it seems that the mystical experience that people in therapeutic psychedelic sessions experience is what causes psilocybin to be effective at treating addictions (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4342293/)

Behavior change would say that other obese people who don’t have food addictions either lack a desire to change, a belief that they are capable of changing, or both.

Big component of behavior change / taking action is someone’s desire to change exceeding their opposition to do the things required for change. (See ‘task value’ here. Many things that look like procrastination are due to the person just actually not caring that much about the task/goal, even if they’re not consciously aware of that they lack true desire to change. https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/RWo4LwFzpHNQCTcYt/how-to-beat-procrastination)

The other big (changeable) aspect of behavior change / taking action is someone’s belief that they are capable of succeeding and achieving the end results. For example, someone is unlikely to put in true effort to a healthy eating diet if they expect that they’ll fail and abandon the diet soon anyway. If someone doesn’t think they’ll be capable of getting the rewards of something e.g. because they don’t think they’ll be able to do it, then they are much less likely to bother trying. Fear of failure is a big (self-fulfilling) deterrent. (See the ‘expectancy’ variable in the procrastination equation from the how to beat procrastination post linked above.)

Psychedelics seem able to make people more motivated to be a healthy weight / slimmer (motivation to change is a big lever on change).

Motivational theory would say that for many people, they/their brains want the tasty food more than they/their brains want to be slim.

Psilocybin seems able to boost motivation to change / to make people want to not be obese. Seems that increasing motivation to change is also one of the reasons that psilocybin helps smoking addiction (http://www.csp.org/psilocybin/Garcia-Romeu2014Smoking.pdf).

Some anecdotes from reddit:



The other big lever on behavior change is the belief that you’re “capable of doing it” - psychedelics seem to make people see that they’re capable of making the changes that they want to make.

A big component of behavior change is people feeling like they’re capable of change.

If someone doesn’t feel like are capable of sticking to a certain way of eating long term, they’ll effectively give up before they begin (or they’ll give up quickly).

Psilocybin for smoking study increased self-efficacy of participants “They also reported an increase in their self-efficacy, their confidence in their ability to remain quit” https://www.stichtingopen.nl/matthew-johnson-psychedelic-therapy-may-become-available-decade/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-efficacy#Health_behaviors (Says dieting is dependent on self-efficacy)

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177\/2010105816667137 (Self-efficacy in treating tobacco use: A review article)

Anecdote from reddit: https://old.reddit.com/r/Psychonaut/comments/3d9k2e/acid_changed_my_life/

Psychedelics seem to help obesity “in the wild” (anecdotes)