Full Disclosure: Andrew Feldmaris my therapist. I began seeing him in 2006 and have continued to sporadically seek his advice at the most challenging moments. While I've always wanted to interview him, some very late googling yielded surprising results: Feldmar was one of the first to research the use of psychedelics for therapeutic use in the 60's, apprenticed and worked with celebrated psychiatrist RD Laing, and is currently an outspoken advocate for the use of MDMA for PTSD. Continuing Laing's "do no harm" dogma Feldmar's wholly unique approach takes therapy out of Freudian analysis's past towards coming to terms with the present moment.

Where were you born?
I was born in Budapest Hungary, 1940.
Not a good time or place for a Jew.
No. Family members had already immigrated feeling that things were not going to be good. In 1943 Jews were rounded up in Budapest. My mother was taken to Auschwitz, my father to a labor camp, my grandmother to the ghetto.
How did you survive?
Somehow my father arranged for a young Catholic woman to take me. For a year and a half I was living with this woman and her kids. I had to lie about my name.
How come?
Anybody who was hiding a Jewish kid would be killed. I remember the father of that household hitting my hand because I was using a fork and knife differently than how his children were using it. I had to pretend I was just like the other kids.
How much of that period do you remember?
Very little. I try to remember that part of my life but only fragments come back -sitting on the arm of a strange man, making the rounds. I would look at the guys face- if there was no fear on his face I was happy, but if I saw fear on his face I got very frightened.
But you didn’t really understand what was going on?
It was all just sound and fury and color, but I was tuning into the excitement, fear, emotions of the adults around me.
What happened when the war ended?
In 1945 around my fifth birthday my mother, father and grandmother all came back.
You don’t hear about that happening often. What was Budapest like after the war?
Between 1945 and 1956, there was the Russian Oppression with troops all over Hungary. That's where I first figured out what depression was about. Depression is not a medical condition- it’s a political side effect of oppression. Anybody who is oppressed, whose expression is inhibited will end up depressed. So the whole country was depressed. If anybody heard you speak critically of the regime, the secret police would knock on your door at 3 AM and you'd end up in Siberia. People were terrified.
How did you end up in Toronto?
When I was 16 my Father arranged for a guy to sneak me through the border to Austria. The Iron Curtain was still down, the revolution was defeated so the borders weren't open anymore. I escaped between Christmas and New Years. I had to have a white sheet around me so I wouldn't be seen from the watch towers, there were dogs barking... It was very all exciting and dangerous.
What happened once you got to Vienna?
Vienna was so over run by Hungarian refugees I couldn't even find a place to sleep. After 3 sleepness nights I negotiated with the policeman to take me to jail so I could have a good night's sleep. Then I found the British were recruiting for coal miners so I went England where they started to teach us English. Before I could get down to the mines, International Red Cross took me to Toronto where I had family.
What was it like being in Toronto after Budapest?
It was good. I always felt like an alien in Budapest. I didn't feel I belonged, felt like out of place- a strange feeling to have in the same apartment you’ve lived all your life. When I arrived in Toronto I was out of place, and so I felt much saner.
How did you learn to speak English?
In order to learn English I started to read all sorts of things. I read everything by DH Lawrence,  Lawrence Durrell, Henry Miller... I learned a lot from literature. I used to walk around with a dictionary everywhere. English grammar is fairly simple, but there is an enormous vocabulary. I had to learn about 10 words a day, otherwise people thought I was stupid. If you don't speak the language people think you're dumb or deaf. People would talk slow and loud to me when that wasn't the problem.
How did you do at school?
The education system in Hungary was a lot better than in Toronto. I couldn’t speak English but I got perfect marks in math, algebra, geometry and trigonometry.  I was also pretty good in physics and chemistry. They started to think I was some kind of mathematical genius. After completing grade 10 I told them I wanted to skip grade 11 and 12 and go straight to grade 13. I told them I’d learn English over the Summer and that I'd rather fail grade 13 several times than having to go through the others.  And to the credit of the principal he let me try it and I passed.
And you decided to pursue Mathematics in University?
Mathematics was good while I was afraid of everything and was confused. It’s so systematic, so clear. Whether you're right or wrong, there are no shady areas, it's all black and white. That was reassuring to me. Plus I didn't need any equipment or anything, all I needed was paper and pencil and I could amuse myself. It was much an escape from interpersonal emotional reality as television could be. But by the time I felt a little more safe in the world and could speak better English, I wasn't interested in mathematics anymore, I was interested in what was going on with people, what was going on between us.
How exactly did you become introduced to psychology?
After my second marriage failed, I went into therapy for the first time.
You were married twice?
Yes. My first marriage broke up in 3½ years,  my second after 3½ years as well. I was totally oblivious why, thought it was the women who were impossible, but was very upset so I went into therapy. Early on the psychoanalyst  pointed out that the pattern was because at the age of 3 ½ all my connections were broken and the pain was such a surprise that I repeated it. He said I was somewhere proud of being able to make people leave the drive for mastery and the compulsion to repeat. When I realized he was right, I dropped mathematics. I thought this is much more interesting.
How did you end up pursuing it formally?
I saw an ad from University of Western Ontario that they were looking for computer programmer in the Psychology Department- a joint appointment to do programing for which they would help get your Masters in Psychology faster than anyone. I got my Masters in two years without ever taking any undergraduate courses.
What was the program you had to write?
I had to write a program that would analyze the transcripts of initial psychiatric interviews and come up with a diagnosis that matched a psychiatrist diagnosis, just from what the patients said.
That sounds kinda ridiculous.
It turned out to be, yes, with one exception: I could predict with 100 percent accuracy who would be diagnosed an alcoholic. The algorithm was very simple- I just counted up how many times alcohol was mentioned and if it was mentioned more than twice the guy was an alcoholic.
Not much science there.
Right. I came from hard sciences. Here was psychology pretending to be a science whose aim is to predict and control human behavior right. I thought good luck!
Because you knew what science actually was.
Yeah. Psychology in the universities is based very much on statistics. When I was writing my thesis, you couldn't write a thesis without the use of statistics. You had to show that some result was statistically significant. I almost got my PhD for Mathematics in statistics, so I knew that they were misapplying that information. You can't use statistics for human beings- human beings are unpredictable.
Did you start working with Psychadelics at Western University?
Well, my superviser came from Regina, which in 1966 was the world center for psychedelic research. Duncan Burd, the head of the  Regina University Department of Psychology was a bright eyed, sparking acid-head. They wrote wonderful research, great literature, very inventive studies. They did group therapy where  and they would lock themselves in for 24 hours and everybody would take LSD. All the avant-garde experimention in psychedelic started in Regina.
Was it legal?
It was legal at that time, all perfectly legal.  At a certain point my boss said “I'm not gonna do this stuff anymore, are you interested?” I didn't know what I was saying yes to but I definitely said yes. I usually say yes to things that I don't know anything about.
Had you tried any other drugs before that point?
No, never. I had my first LSD session right there. There was no interaction. He was sitting there reading a newspaper and I was tripping.
How exactly does a psychedelic like LSD help psychology?
Duncan Burd wrote a book called The Frontiers of Being where he says that “what the microscope is to biology, the telescope is to astronomy, LSD is to psychology.”
He was saying that LSD was a technology that allowed for the  science to progress?
That's what was in the air. In Vancouver around that time there was a hospital called Hollywood Hospital that specialized in LSD therapy. It was probably one of the few hospitals in the world like that. You could fly in, they would give you a huge dose of LSD, 1,200 micrograms, and you would be cured you of your alcoholism.
Hollywood Hospital was for alcoholics?
It was used with other drug addictions. Apparently the CIA and other organizations from the United States came there for creativity training.
It sounds like a very innocent period.
I was very lucky to have been there. Then because of the excesses of Timoth Leary, suddenly it was over and dangerous.
What can one learn from taking LSD multiple times?
LSD is one of those drugs where, depending on the dose, when you come back to an ordinary state of consciousness you may not remember much that happened. You may have a vague memory that fantastic things happened, but it's hard to bring back those discoveries into an ordinary state. In literature it's referred to a state specific memory. Sometimes with alcohol it happens- you get so drunk that next day you don't know what you did until you get drunk again.
Or even just the feeling that occupied you.
Right. The drug I'm working with now, MDMA, is not like that. With MDMA, whatever you discover while it's lasting stays with you. You don't forget it, it's not state specific, the information transfers to your normal state of consciousness.
So MDMA is a lot more effective than LSD?
For therapeutic purposes absolutely. There are more and instances in the established medical community where it is discovered that the use of psychedelics speeds up therapy.
How does it make therapy shorter?
The essence of therapy is really that everybody's PTSD: all the varieties of diagnosis and labels are essentially varieties of post-traumatic stress disorder. Nobody suffers, nobody is crazy if they weren't hurt. So if you have been hurt, sooner or later you have to mourn and grieve of how you have been hurt. But in order to get there, you have to be out of survival mode. The way that happens is with your therapist you establish some measure of safety, security and trust. For some people that can take years. Because if you were ripped off, if you were hurt, if you were raped, if you were abused, if you don't trust people, why would you trust your therapist, behind whose face there is your abuser?
And psychedelics speed up this process of creating trust?
What I found with LSD is that suddenly all defensive habits would disappear. I could trust somebody who is trustworthy. I didn't have to be paranoid anymore, my heart opened up, I could suddenly feel safe enough to mourn and grieve what happened to me.
What about bad trips?
If you look at any of the literature that's worth reading, there's 3 elements to a trip: the drug, the mindset and the setting itself.  Bad trips happen because of the setting or the mindset- it's never the drug.  Bad trips are interactions between the person who's tripping and an unprepared, insufficient setting that can't support the person.
What happened after you got your Masters?
I got a two month fellowship at UBC in Psycholinguistics. When I came out I fell in love with Vancouver. I heard on the radio that they were looking for volunteers at the brand new crisis center. I was one of the first ones to be trained to be on the phones with people who were suicidal and wanted to talk to somebody.
Did you enjoy that work?
I really enjoyed talking to people. The only frustrating thing was we weren't supposed to meet them face-to-face. I always wanted to meet them. That opened my mind up to the possibility that maybe I could be a therapist.
How did you pursue that?
I ended up getting a job as a Clinical Psychologist at the Health Center without any training in clinical psychology.  You couldn't do that now. The head of the team said he was actually glad I had no training, because he didn’t have retrain me- I could just learn from experience.
What kind of work were you doing?
Working with children. My supervisor believed that starting with children would teach you everything because they were guileless. So the father would see the psychiatrist, the mother would see the social worker, the children would see. me. Then we would have case conferences.  
What was it like working with kids?
Fantastic. They were so honest. If you give them a sand tray with lot of little toys they'll play out the family dynamics. They basically tell you everything without even being aware that they are telling you their world. They play out their anxieties, fears, difficult situations. Taking them seriously and listening to them was very instructive.
Were there ever instances where you were concerned?
There was a kid who was labeled autistic. When I made a home visit, I found that the parents were crazy, not the kid. The father put the bed up near the attic, and at night he nailed a wooden plank on the crib so the kid couldn't crawl out while they slept in the basement. And the kid was labeled sick.
Did you eventually begin working with adults?
Once I began working with couples and families I realized that I was projecting my own family onto them. I always made an alliance with the mother and fought with the father, which was my background. Despite my best intentions I got sucked in. I needed more training so I quit.
Is that how you ended up apprenticing with R.D. Laing?
Yes. There were two people who I thought I wanted to apprentice with- one was Eric From, a Marxist psychologist, and the other R.D. Laing. Both of them appealed to me because neither made the mistake of saying your suffering is something wrong within you. Both of them said if you're suffering it's because somebody's treating you badly.
How were you able to meet them?
It happened that in 1974 early in their year both of them appeared on a circuit here in Vancouver. I got to hear and be with both of them. In 15 minutes I knew I couldn't work with Eric Fromm. Even today I really appreciate his writings, but as to personal interaction, I couldn't have handled it. On the other hand I hit it off with Laing. By September my family was in London so I could start working with him.
Can you speak a little more about how Laing differentiated himself from the general psychology community?
Some people mistakenly call him an anti-psychiatrist. Whenever he was confronted with it he said he was a true psychiatrist and the others he fought against were anti-psychiatrists. He took his hippocratic oath as a doctor very seriously, the essence of which was to do no harm. His major accusation towards the rest of psychiatry was that his colleagues were doing harm and didn't want to hear about it.
He seemed like a pretty reckless personality though.
When he was a therapist he was very careful about not doing harm. When he wasn't a therapist he wasn't so careful. The patient pays the therapist to be mindful. It's work to make sure that I'm not going to unleash on you the worst in me. If you don't pay me then you're taking your chances. Having a meeting with Laing outside of the therapy room was a totally different experience than inside.
How long did you guys spend together?
It was basically a year of intense togetherness- eight hours a week in various forms. Part of my training was he would just call me up at any time day or night, saying here's a crisis, go out and deal with it.
How would he find these for you?
He was well known, so he would get crisis calls, and would just farm it out to me. I would just take a taxi to given an address and be precipitated into a situation.
What did you come out of the year you spent with Laing?
Mainly self-confidence. I wouldn't have been able to say it at the time but in hind sight I realized that you can't have self-confidence without somebody who you respect having confidence in you. It just so happened that Laing invested in me absolute confidence. At first I felt that he was mistaking me for someone else. It's almost like he was focusing as if I were 6'2" while I was 4'2". By the end of the year I grew to where he was looking. He treated me as if I would find my way and I did.
What happened when you came back to Vancouver?
I started from scratch. I didn’t want to work for anyone else. No nonprofit organizations or anything, just a private practice. I decided if in six months I could make as much money as we needed as a family, then it would be clear that the community needed me. If not I would go to New York, London, bigger cities that would maybe sustain me. If that didn’t work I would just drive a taxi, because that's next best thing. You get paid for sure, the meter is running and there's opportunity for conversation. I didn't know whether I could make it or not but I was willing to risk the worst.
And you didn’t have to leave Vancouver. What is your practice like today?
I just reduced the number of days I worked with patients to two. On Friday's I make house calls, family therapy, couples therapy. Mondays and Tuesdays are dedicated to MAPS: Multidisciplinary Associations for Psychedelic Studies. Then at least two times for a couple weeks a year I go to Hungary where I'm running The Asylum- a safe place, especially for young people to rescue them from having to be labeled and degraded and take up being a mental patient as a career. We try to have five or six people living together who otherwise would be hospitalized. We wait out and support them until they move out of their crisis. None of us freak out,  they can take drugs if they want to.
You also do a lot of public speaking in when you’re in Hungary.
I give talks,lectures to infect people with this way of thinking- that there is no mental illness. I speak about how to raise children without shaming and humiliating them, trying to introduce a different way of educating.
My last question: Your wife is a painter. What’s your attitude towards art?
Well, if you look at it from an outsiders perspective: my first wife was a cellist and a pianist.  My second wife was a painter and a graphic artist. My third wife is a painter. So, obviously, throughout my life I have have been moved to support and be around art. Where I live is filled with my wife's paintings- I feel like I'm living in the midst of luxury and visual stimulation.
Does it go beyond that?
There's really no explanation-  I don't have any utilitarian attitude to it. It's just a form of expression. All art, from poetry to painting points to that which is beyond language. I appreciate all forms of expression and I'm absolutely fascinated by the constant surprises revealed by creative people who are candid and spontaneous.