Dr. Dennis McKenna is a scientist, author and living legend of psychedelic counterculture. He joined Midwest Real to wax philosophical on the ever-novel, topography of society, technology, medicine, the limits of science and why we should always remain humble. 


DENNISHow many of us can truly say our lives will tell a story? That when we, or someone else looks back on it, we’ll find real development, defining moments and a worthwhile central cause?

Clearly, living a life of legends is far from simple. Just getting around the obligations and momentum that are built into being a modern human can be a tough, if not insurmountable task. Depending upon your roll of the dice, you might be grappling with debt, illness, family issues or any number of other inhibitory obstacles that coerce you into living your life in a way that’s less than ideal. But, when it comes right down to it, I’m willing to bet that most of us are actually holding ourselves back.

All to often, we allow our minds to become a doubt factory that convinces us we aren’t “good enough” or “special enough” “fill-in-the-blank enough” to be what want to be. This leads us to make safe, status quo choices that shield us from failure. Of course, this all but guarantees a life of mediocrity. The good news is, sometimes all it takes to break the mundane mold is one defining moment. Just one occurrence that puts things into perspective and makes all that came before it seem trivial by comparison.

It was an experience like this that made Dennis McKenna the Dennis McKenna that so many admire today.

Before that pivotal moment, Dennis was much like us, (ok his older brother was Terence McKenna, but bear with me here) an open-minded relatively average young dude searching for adventure, novelty and his place in the world. In 1971 in the Amazon rainforest, he stumbled upon just that– The doorway to the great work of his life. That experience has become known as “the experiment at La Chorrera” (you should definitely familiarize yourself with it to get the most out of this conversation).

Though this odd experiment didn’t exactly make Dennis and Terence an overnight gurus, or yield the secrets of the universe on a silver platter, it was utterly transformative. It sent Terence on the path that would lead him to become an icon of psychedelic counterculture and Dennis to dedicate his life to trying to make sense of the metamorphosis he had undergone through the lens of science.

Since then, Dr. Dennis McKenna has become a world-renowned expert on natural medicines, and entheogens. He’s a world traveler, accomplished mystic, well-versed in neuroscience and he’s the author of Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss, which raised more money on Kickstarter than any other book in history.

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