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Empowering Reading: Coming Full Circle

Book Review: Coming Full Circle

From time-to-time, as we find useful and empowering books filled with advice for living a happier, healthier life -- in this case, using psychedelics to heal trauma -- we will share them with you.

Coming Full Circle: Using Psychedelics to Heal Trauma, by Shannon Duncan

Reviewed by Randall Hansen, Ph.D.

We are NOT broken or damaged -- words we often tell ourselves -- but MANY of us are wounded, carrying emotional pain that sometimes seems truly unbearable.

Shannon Duncan does an absolutely beautiful job weaving together a psychedelic primer with a tremendously powerful and emotional story of his healing journey.

But before I jump into the review, can I just ask a very important question? What, as a society, has gotten into us that so many of us and our children have been sexually abused? And why have so many of us been physically and mentally abused? Why do we have this sickness? Yes, I know about generational trauma and the importance of breaking that cycle, but seeing so much abuse pains my heart.

Coming Full Circle is well-written and well-organized. It is divided into three parts. In the first part, psychedelics are covered in relation to how they can help heal. Part two is a deep dive into guided psychedelic journeys and how to find the best facilitator/guide for your healing; and to me, this part is worth the entire purchase of the book because the author shares such great information. The final part is a wrap up of Shannon's story and an invitation for readers to join the healing.

While Shannon is not an expert in the science of psychedelics, he does a fantastic job describing a combination of mainstream psychedelics as well as a few lesser ones... and he does so in sharing his experiences with them and what the outcomes were from each experience.

I was touched multiple times in reading Shannon's stories of a very horrendous childhood -- and that was even before he uncovered additional trauma through his deep work with psychedelic medicines -- which led to his true healing.

And while I did not encounter all the trauma he did, I so relate on many levels with his struggles with fitting in at school, being an introvert, and dealing with an abusive parent.

One of the most important things he writes -- and it's important because a lot of childhood trauma gets buried so deep in our brains that we do not remember the actual abuses -- is this:

"Much of the trauma I was desperate to heal had been locked away deep inside, inaccessible in spite of decades of various forms of talk therapy, hypnotherapy, meditation, typical psychedelic use, and myriad other approaches."

In many ways, I would not wish Shannon's experiences on anyone. He struggled for decades, trying to understand why he felt the way he did and trying to unpack the many, many layers of trauma he had experienced. And like many before him (and continuing to this day), he discovered alcohol for self-medicating. He also struggled with relationships and delved into recreational psychedelic use.

Shannon spends time making a big distinction among recreational psychedelic use, intentional psychedelic use, and medicine work with psychedelics... he states that it is with the medicine work, where you want challenging situations so that you can face them and learn to heal from them. (Too often people shy away from challenging aspects within a psychedelic journey -- and it is these challenging aspects that healing often finds footing; we need to embrace challenges, not run from them.)

I also appreciate that Shannon makes a point to talk about the importance of psychedelic guides -- especially for the healing work. I have done many high-dose psychedelic journeys on my own, but the author does a great job in showing the importance of having an experienced guide (or healer) there to help with all aspects of the journey.

But as I mentioned earlier, the real strength of the book is not Shannon's story, which is tremendous, but his detailed discussion of the various types of psychedelic support services, including trip sitters, psychedelic facilitators, psychedelic coaches, psychedelic guides, medicine guides, and psychedelic therapists.

My favorite chapter is 13, dealing with making an agreement with a psychedelic guide, because he really goes into the how and why of finding a guide that is best for your needs. I should note, as an aside, that my partner and I vetted a psychedelic healer for an Ayahuasca healing weekend and while the guy was normal in all the vetting leading up to the retreat, once participants were on property, he changed to a really ego-driven and dangerous "healer." (Read the account of our Ayahausca experience here.)

Again -- the importance of doing your due diligence -- and the same warning goes for sourcing the medicines.

I am so appreciative of Shannon for baring his soul here. It's powerful, beautiful, raw. He talks about sleepless nights when he questioned being so vulnerable and sharing so much, but he got it exactly right with this book... all those details bring his story to light before the reader's very eyes.

Finally, I love his section on forgiveness. It's one thing to help clear the unprocessed trauma responses, it's another to then forgive the people who traumatized you. But forgiveness is the other side of the healing coin. It's also important to remember that the forgiveness is for YOU, not for the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is the final step to clearing that old trauma.

Some readers may get triggered by some of the details in this book, so be prepared... but also remember that triggers are there to remind us that we need healing.


Final Thoughts About Coming Full Circle

Coming Full Circle is well written and organized and the author's account of his long journey of healing deeply moving. I wasn't expecting it, but this book is one of my favorites in the psychedelic space.

Hopefully, if you decide to use psychedelic medicines to help heal your trauma, you will not need to go to the length of the work Shannon did, but even if that is the case, the healing and freedom from that trauma will be worth ALL of it.

Best quote from the book, attributed to Shannon's first psychedelic guide: "If you cut your arm, your body knows how to heal it. Your body knows how to heal you emotionally too, if you'll let it."

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall Hansen is an advocate, educator, mentor, ethicist, and thought-leader... helping the world heal from past trauma. He is founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com.

He is the author of the groundbreaking Triumph Over Trauma: Psychedelic Medicines are Helping People Heal Their Trauma, Change Their Lives, and Grow Their Spirituality and the well-received HEAL! Wholeistic Practices to Help Clear Your Trauma, Heal Yourself, and Live Your Best Life.

Dr. Hansen's focus and advocacy center around true healing ... healing that results in being able to live an authentic life filled with peace, joy, love. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.


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