Mountainfilm: Dr.Julie Holland, Science of Connection, In-Person/Online!

Mountainfilm: Dr.Julie Holland, Science of Connection, In-Person/Online!

 Mountainfilm plans to once again bring films from Telluride, that is home base to couches and camper vans around the world in 2021. Passes to the online festival, which will run May 31–June 6, are now available at

In addition to the seven-day Mountainfilm Online festival offering access to a robust Mountainfilm 2021 lineup from the comfort and safety of home, with Covid restrictions lifted, the nonprofit is planning more and more in-person screenings and programs in Telluride over Memorial Day weekend, May 28–31. But, because of the pandemic, this event will look much different than previous Mountainfilm festivals. Go here for the full program.

Among the featured speakers at Mountainfilm 2021, for both the virtual and in-person events in Telluride, is Dr. Julie Holland. Her subject, also the subject of her latest book: “Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, from Soul to Psychedelics.” Dr. Julie and her husband may also teaching about “coupling” or how to enhance interpersonal relationships.

Please scroll down to listen to Dr. Julie’s podcast.

Dr. Julie Holland, author, “The Science of Connection, from Soul to Psychedelics” a 2021 Mountainfilm presenter.

Founded in 1993 by Dr. David Nichols, an esteemed presenter at the Telluride Mushroom Festival, the Heffter Institute believes psychedelics have great, unexplored potential that requires independently funded scientific research to find their best uses in medical treatment. To that end, its mission is to promote research of the highest scientific quality with the classic hallucinogens and related compounds, sometimes called psychedelics, in order to contribute to a greater understanding of the human mind. with the goal of improving the human condition and alleviating suffering. Dr. Julie Holland sings in harmony with Dr. Nichols (and her friend Michael Pollan, “How to Change Your Mind”) on the subject.

Dr. Julie is a psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist and author of five books in her field. The first, “Weekends at Bellevue” is a memoir documenting her experiences between 1996 – 2005 as the weekend head of the psychiatric emergency room at Bellevue in New York City. Her latest work is “Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, from Soul to Psychedelics.”

According to her publisher of “Good Chemistry”:

“We are suffering from an epidemic of disconnection that antidepressants and social media can’t fix. This state of isolation puts us in ‘fight or flight mode,’ deranging sleep, metabolism and libido. What’s worse, we’re paranoid of others. This kill-or-be-killed framework is not a way to live. But, when we feel safe and loved, we can rest, digest, and repair. We can heal. And it is only in this state of belonging that we can open up to connection with others.

“In this powerful book, Holland helps us to understand the science of connection as revealed in human experiences from the spiritual to the psychedelic. The key is oxytocin—a neurotransmitter and hormone produced in our bodies that allows us to trust and bond. It fosters attachment between mothers and infants, romantic partners, friends, and even with our pets. There are many ways to reach this state of mental and physical wellbeing that modern medicine has overlooked. The implications for our happiness and health are profound. 
We can find oneness in meditation, in community, or in awe at the beauty around us. Another option: psychedelic medicines that can catalyze a connection with the self, with nature, or the cosmos. “Good Chemistry” points us on the right path to forging true and deeper attachments with our own souls, to one another, and even to our planet, helping us heal ourselves and our world.”

As an advocate for the appropriate use of consciousness expanding substances as part of mental health treatment, Dr. Julie also works for the  Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies or MAPS, which involves, in part, developing psychedelics into a prescription medication.

In an Op Ed piece published in 2019 in The New York Times, Michael Pollan, said this on the subject:

“Scientists at places such as Johns Hopkins, New York University, Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center and Imperial College in London have conducted small but rigorous studies that suggest a single psilocybin trip guided by trained professionals has the potential to relieve ‘existential distress’ in cancer patients; break addictions to cigarettes, alcohol and cocaine; and bring relief to people struggling with depression. Psychiatry’s current drugs for treating these disorders are limited in their effectiveness, often addictive, address only symptoms and come with serious side effects, so the prospect of psychedelic medicine is raising hopes of a badly needed revolution in mental health care.

“This might help explain why the Food and Drug Administration granted ‘breakthrough therapy’ status last year to psilocybin, which promises to speed its consideration as a treatment for depression. But the research also shows that psilocybin may have value for the rest of us: Studies have demonstrated that, properly administered, a psilocybin journey can have enduring, positive effects on the well-being and relative openness of “healthy normals,” as researchers put it.

“This is all very exciting, especially coming at a time when rates of depression, suicide and addiction are rising. But the history of psychedelics has been marked by periods of both irrational exuberance and equally irrational stigmatization, so a few cautionary notes are in order…”

Psychedelics then and now:

Dating back to the ancient Greeks, Psychedelics have been used throughout history primarily for their healing properties, rather than for purely hedonistic ends. Indigenous cultures in pre-conquest South and Central America used psychedelic plants throughout the ages, always treating them with great respect and reverence and seeing them as powerful medicines for the mind, body, and soul.

Fast forward to the modern West. When substances like LSD (acid) and MDMA (ecstasy) were first discovered, their initial applications were in the realm of psychotherapy and treatment for mental disorders like addiction. Psychiatrist Dr; Humphry Osmond, who coined the term “psychedelic,” used LSD and mescaline in the 1950s to treat alcoholism and study schizophrenia; other researchers like Dr. Stanislav Grof explored the clinical applications LSD could provide in psychology and psychotherapy.

Enter the era of drugs, sex and rock ’n roll. During the so-called “cultural revolution” of the ‘60s, young people took LSD on a very large scale, triggering a backlash in the form of laws that strictly forbade further research into the benefits of psychedelic substances.

“Psychedelics had been demonized and trivialized in the mainstream media and science had ignored them; there was virtually no research funding to study them, and the overwhelming consensus seemed to be that psychedelic agents had absolutely no redeeming value. They were just seen as useless drugs of abuse. I, however, did not subscribe to that belief. I was very fortunate to be able to secure grant support for my work through most of my career at Purdue. That proved important to keep the field alive and to give it a chance to flourish,” explained Nichols in an interview with Telluride Inside… and Out.

The strictures on research lasted two decades until finally in the early 1990s approval for further research was granted once again.

“In 1992, the FDA decided that properly designed studies, with appropriate approvals, could again be initiated. My Purdue expertise then proved critical. Even if a researcher could obtain approval to carry out a human study with a psychedelic, there was no company willing to manufacture those substances with a suitable purity, and at an affordable cost. Early on, I was approached by an organization called MAPS inquiring whether my laboratory had the willingness and the capability to prepare a drug known as MDMA (Ecstasy) for toxicology testing and eventual human trials. Along with my students we were able to prepare 2 kilograms (more than four pounds) of very high purity MDMA. That material was subsequently used in human clinical trials, and recently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave breakthrough therapy designation to the use of MDMA for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). …,” continued Nichols.

Today, thanks in large part to the ongoing efforts of Dr. Nichols and colleagues like Dr. Julie, scores of new studies into the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics are appearing every year from lauded institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, University of New Mexico, UCLA, NYU, and Stanford, with the results being published in respected peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Julie Holland, more:

Dr. Julie has spent her adult life investigating drugs. At the University of Pennsylvania, she majored in the “Biological Basis of Behavior,” a series of courses combining the study of psychology and neural sciences, with a concentration in drugs and the brain, or psychopharmacology.

During her college years, she authored an extensive research paper on MDMA.

Dr. Julie received her medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine in 1992. At Mount Sinai Medical Center, she completed a residency program in psychiatry, where she was the creator of a research project which treated schizophrenics with a new medication. She is considered an expert on street drugs and intoxication states, and lectures widely on this topic.

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