Shannon Duncan’s Coming Full Circle shares his experience with psychedelic drugs and support personnel in his attempt to reveal and heal childhood trauma.
At midlife, Duncan’s world was in disarray: Divorced and a part-time dad, his writing career had veered off track; he abused alcohol and attempted suicide. Having taken psychedelic drugs recreationally, he wanted to see if all the buzz about toad venom’s hallucinogenic properties was true. After using it under supervision, he notes: “Something deep within me had been awakened, it was calling out to heal, and I fully intended to do my best to make it happen… my saga of healing trauma with psychedelic medicines had officially begun.”
Duncan details the variety of drugs available for uncovering deeply hidden trauma, from MDMA (Ecstasy) and psilocybin mushrooms to 5-MeO-DMT, either a pure synthetic lab-made version or a natural version made from the Sonoran Desert toad’s dried venom. He profiles the types of support personnel necessary for the tripper’s safety and ability to find relief from emotional pain and provides important questions and suggestions on how to secure a competent guide.
Additionally, the author discusses how to take this journey—from setting clear intentions to preparing the space, and more—and delves into the psychological issues that arose for him about his mother’s and grandfather’s abuse and how he struggled to forgive them and begin to love himself.
Duncan issues many warnings throughout, underscoring that psychedelics aren’t legal and that the industry surrounding tripping is a grab bag of competent, trained professionals and con artists. He’s a compelling writer who makes you care about his trauma and his experience trying to heal. He provides organized, concise, useful information. But hovering over all this, he repeatedly acknowledges, is the threat of embarking on a journey that could be lethal in the worst-case scenario.
Thus, as a guidebook, it’s best to approach this with caution. As a memoir, however, the narrative delivers an engaging, well-written story.