From Neurons to Nirvana

From Neurons to Nirvana: The Great Medicines is an in-depth analysis of psychedelic drugs in light of current scientific, medical, and cultural knowledge, and on the validity of psychedelics as adjuncts to therapy; as crucial but neglected ‘taboo’ medicines; and as technologies of consciousness.


In the last few years psychedelics have been given a new respectability in science and in therapy. Universities in Zurich, at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and at the University of California, are conducting human trials with psychedelics to treat a number of afflictions from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to cluster headaches, addictions, and end-of-life anxiety.

But the story is much bigger: outside of research centers, a growing population has embarked upon psychic adventures using all manner of exotic substances, natural and synthetic, illegal and not-yet-illegal.


Banned worldwide from research labs for nearly 35 years, mind-altering drugs from Ecstasy to LSD are again becoming the focus of serious scientific study. Researchers in several centers, including John Hopkins and the University of California, are conducting clinical trial to treat a range of afflictions: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), addictions, and the psychological stresses suffered by late-stage terminal cancer patients. The initial results of all these studies is remarkable.

But the story is much bigger than these trials. Outside the research centers, a growing population is embarking on psychic adventures using all manner of exotic substances natural and synthetic, illegal and not-yet-illegal. Experimenters and clients of licensed therapists use these underground drugs not as escape routes, nor as addictive crutches, but in a quest for transformation, mental health, creativity, intellectual and spiritual enhancement and insight.

From Neurons to Nirvana introduces a vibrant spectrum of characters that champion psychoactive drugs as medicines and as enhancers. Noted contributors include Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss, director of the Beckley Foundation to Further Consciousness; Dr. Michael Mithoefer who conducted groundbreaking, successful posttraumatic stress disorder trials with MDMA; Dr. Dennis McKenna, author, ethnopharmacologist, expert on DMT and Ayahuasca, and Dr. Gábor Máté, the award winning Vancouver author and expert on addictions.

Using state of the art HD image processing, filmmaker Oliver Hockenhull intellectually engages his viewers with riveting subject matter, and uses a visually stunning approach to give the audience tantalizing glimpses into the exquisitely beautiful world of the psychedelic experience.


"What distance back to truth must they traverse, whom truth could only reach by word of mouth." -William Faulkner

From Neurons To Nirvana explores the promise of brave new advances in psychopharmacology and neuroscience, guiding the viewer in a thought-provoking journey, led by those determined to hold open the doors of perception. Written by Oliver Hockenhull.


To be released in 2012

Oliver Hockenhull is a Vancouver based media artist, filmmaker and writer.

His films are visionary meals, spiced by an intimate, poetic, and enlightening perspective into the complexity of issues and subjects under examination. He has concentrated on pivotal subjects; an early film essay about political discourse and activism, the social and intellectual import of the eminent writer, Aldous Huxley, an experimental film essay on evolution that features Richard Dawkins (and the gorillas of the London Zoo), and an essay on the built environment and the binary code.