Revolutionizing Anxiety: Russell Kennedy, MD

Russell Kennedy, MD, on LSD trips, crippling anxiety, and how he used the self-publishing process to build up his message of hope.

Table of Contents


What is something exciting that you’re doing at this present moment in life?

I’m in UK right now as I am a guest on Rangan Chatterjee’s podcast taping in Manchester next week. He’s got the most downloaded (1.5M per week) health podcast in the UK and Europe so I’m excited to be asked on his show.


Doing anything else fun while there?

It’s a long way to go from Victoria BC where I live, (and I’m really struggling with jet lag this trip!!) but I am throwing in some pleasure along the way visiting friends in London and then going up to Scotland to play golf at St Andrews with a bunch of my Scottish relatives (my mother is from Glasgow) 


Revolutionizing Anxiety: Russel Kennedy, MD


You wrote a book, which we feature in our BOOKS section. How is it going with sales?

My book continues to do very well, with over 45,000 copies sold and over 1.5M in revenue -and as a self published book this is exceedingly rare to sell more than 500 copies so I am very happy with how the book is performing. Also up to 126K followers on IG and that is going really well too. 


Can you touch on the self-publishing process a bit for us? Why did you choose that path?

I had a very good self publisher: Amanda Johnson at Awakened Village Press (AVP).

Amanda was with me every step of the way and created outlines for the book and had a very good line on editors, technical support and cover designers. She even got a contact of hers who was a science editor from Harvard to look at the manuscript to make sure I wasn’t making any obvious scientific mistakes (which I wasn’t!).

AVP was a fairly new entity at the time I published back in 2020, so there were some things that took longer than maybe they should have, but Amanda saw my vision from the start and embraced the anomalous outline of the book (it’s written in 108 short chapters -a very atypical format for this type of publication) and she was superb in getting the outline done and keeping me on track and motivated when I lost faith in the books’ direction.

I chose self publishing for four reasons:

(1) Because I didn’t want to go through the extensive work and financial expense of creating a book proposal for a big five publisher which a literary agent told me was about 15K USD (which would be 3.5 million in Canadian funds). That’s a joke, but the USD/CAN exchange rate is downright hostile these days.

(2) I didn’t think a traditional publisher would look favorably on my very atypical view of anxiety. I dont believe most classically trained western physicians and psychiatrists would understand it either because it radically goes against the reductionist model that anxiety is primarily an issue of the mind.


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(3) I thought they would make me change the manuscript to have more widespread commercial appeal. I have a friend who published a book on inherited family trauma with a major publisher and he had to give his manuscript a massive overhaul and I wanted to be able to say exactly what I wanted, so self publishing was a very easy choice for me.

(4) Lastly, the money. I’ve always been intuitive and I knew the book would do well. Self publishing pays you considerably more per book sold than a traditional publisher does. It wound up being the right choice as the book has sold over 45,000 copies to date and grossed well over a million dollars and of that I have personally made royalties of $300K.

As a self published author I make about $5 per book sold on Amazon or Audible. If I had gone with a traditional publisher I would make less than 10% of that, about 10-40 cents a book.

I went with a self publisher because I had a clear vision as to what the book should look, feel and sound like. I did not want to be beholden to a corporation’s vision for the book. I was much more concerned with the down and dirty details of helping people heal individually rather than creating something that would do well commercially for the masses.


Have you had to do your own marketing? What did you find was most useful for this?

I find the book sells by word of mouth, so I am very lucky that I don’t have to do a lot of marketing outside of IG.

My Instagram account has been invaluable at giving the book an online profile.

I have done Amazon and Facebook ADs but did not find them cost effective. They WOULD sell more books, but the book royalty revenue from the Ads was about the same as the revenue spent on the ads, so I broke even for the most part. That means more books got out there and gave more chances of other “word of mouth” sales, so the Ads were beneficial from a marketing standpoint but not a bottom line profit standpoint.


Dr. Kennedy’s dog, Buddha, reads his book..


Were there any hiccups along the way, where self-publishing was concerned? Things you’d change or do better?

I think there’s gonna be hiccups along the way with ANY book especially if you’re a first time author.

My advice is to get a good self publisher who can see your vision.

There were lots of hiccups in getting it published to Amazon, so a company that knows Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing, KDP) well would be a definite asset.



What is your day like? give us a typical ‘day in the life’ from your vantage point.

I get up at 8, feed my three dogs and then take them out. I take my i-phone with me everywhere and send myself texts when I have any insights or inspirations.I have an iPhone and I say “Hey SIRI send myself a text” (I have a contact named “my self) and dictate any idea I might have. That way at the end of the day I have a written record of things that I can expand upon on IG or use to create jokes as a stand up comedian. I usually do 4-8 podcasts a month as a guest and those I record later in the morning when I have a fully functioning Medial Prefrontal Cortex (I’m not a morning person). After a podcast episode I usually have a personal session with someone who is suffering from anxiety who usually found me in IG. I only see one person a day and my consultations with them run 90-120 minutes so I can give them a real good idea where their anxiety comes from (99% unresolved childhood trauma) and how to heal it. 
Then lunch, which is something quick and easy (I can’t cook)
Dr. Kennedy, with dogs Buddha, Riley, and Ellie

In the afternoon I will write IG content, create scripts for meditations, work on my 2nd book, or most recently I’ve finished a Mind-Body program for anxiety relief that focuses on both the conscious and unconscious mind called “Your Mind-Body Prescription for Permanent Anxiety Healing” (MBRX) that I just released for presale to my mailing list on May 20th and the general public May 22nd. In the first five days the program has made over 40K in revenue, mostly again, from my IG followers. I have a recording studio in my house (otherwise known as my wife’s walk-in closet), but despite the casual setup has state of the art recording and editing software (but Cynthia still has access to her shoes). I use the studio to record and mix brainwave entrainment software programs and create meditations that access the deeper mind and body. I believe we must access the deeper subconscious mind if we are to truly heal anxiety instead of just changing the way we think at a conscious level. 
Revolutionizing Anxiety: Russell Kennedy, MD
With wife, Cynthia
I have a gym 3 blocks from my house and will go there before dinner. After dinner I look at my texts and organize future content. Then my wife Cynthia and I will typically watch a series on Netflix. Before I go to bed I contact Dimi, my CEO in Dubai (my 9PM is her 8AM) and we will converse about the book, the MBRX program and upcoming promotions or IG content. 
Revolutionizing Anxiety: Russel Kennedy, MD

Has there been any pivotal moment in your life that serves as a a-ha moment?

More than a few.

But 10 years ago, in May of 2013 I was desperate and questioning if life was worth living if I had to spend it in a 10 hour panic attack each day. I also had surgery two months earlier that year for a ruptured Achilles tendon that I FOOLISHLY injected myself with bupivacaine and cortisone. That “frozen” cocktail worked brilliantly before a walking trip to Croatia 2 years before, so when the Achilles flared up again, I “gave it another shot”.

That Achilles rupture and subsequent surgery was the straw that broke the doctors back though because I was already burned out. I was thinking about quitting medicine, but that Achilles rupture sealed the deal.

At the time I thought the rupture was the worst thing that could have ever happened to me, but it turned out to be the best, because it got me out of practicing medicine in a profoundly broken Canadian medical system. But I was broken in 2013, emotionally and physically. On a daily basis I contemplated suicide because life wasn’t worth living if I had to exist in a 10 hour panic attack every day.


Revolutionizing Anxiety: Russell Kennedy, MD


I had become a certified Yoga teacher in 2007 and my foray into the spiritual world had helped me in the past and a friend knew this temple in India that gave her great solace, so I packed my bags and limped (metaphorically and literally) to Chennai where I spent 6 weeks at the temple.

I had an experience I would consider “enlightenment” for about 90 minutes on a random Tuesday morning while on the roof of the temple where I felt one with everything. No anxiety, no alarm, just the richness of the present moment where the sun was coming up and I was at peace with everything. But, 3 hours later I was back to my “normal” anxious self.


“On a daily basis I contemplated suicide because life wasn’t worth living if I had to exist in a 10 hour panic attack every day.”


I limped back from India in September of 2013, feeling hopeless. I had spent all this money and time on the experience of staying at an Indian temple and, if anything, my anxiety was WORSE. (On the plus side, I can still get in touch with that feeling of enlightenment and I think I will always be able to, but it’s a watered down version of the original rooftop experience. In October 2013, A friend who was very well versed in psychedelics was concerned about me and suggested a psychedelic journey with the intention to go deeper into the root cause of my emotional pain. Guided by his calm, spiritual demeanor I took LSD for the one and only time on October 5th 2013 (coincidentally my late father’s birthday).

On LSD my mind was fractured into a million pieces, but as I returned from the “trip” I was shown in no uncertain terms that the “anxiety” I attributed to my mind was in reality an energy of alarm stored in my solar plexus area. That state of physiological alarm was buried in me as a child from dealing with my schizophrenic, bipolar father. Over the following few years, I developed a theory that the psychology of my mind was only reflecting the alarm physiology in my body. I have refined this theory greatly since my acid trip that Fall of 2013 and it was the genesis of my book, Anxiety Rx.


For those contemplating self-publishing, what are some great resources for getting started?

I don’t really know. I was lucky enough to stumble on Amanda through a mutual friend at the outset of the decision to write a book, so she did all the groundwork for me. I’d contact Amanda@awakenvillage.com. I know she’s busy, but she’ll likely know someone if she can’t help you herself.


Your niche-focus is on anxiety. Can you give us a little glimpse into your background and why this is your focus?

This is what I will often tell people about why I focus on anxiety I had high functioning, but crippling anxiety for 35+ years stemming from my own unresolved childhood wounding and ACEs – I’m an expert just from that!

I have degrees and advanced training in Medicine, Neuroscience and Developmental Psychology because 95%+ mental “illness” results from an interruption of childhood development. I’m a certified yoga and meditation teacher because both helped me India showed me that anxiety is a spiritual illness as a separation from oneself.

The mind and body are split, and the adult in us is separated from the child in us. All anxiety is separation anxiety, and its mostly separation within yourself. Anxiety, or more correctly, ALARM, results from a separation of mind from body and adult self from child self. To heal, we need to rejoin mind and body and connect the child in us with the caring adult that also lives in us if we chose to foster them… I was a touring professional stand up comedian because that was fun for me. Fun is a brilliant antidote to anxiety.

I am very disillusioned by traditional psychology and psychiatry, as I obtained very little benefit from their approach. I think many people believe that traditional therapy is all there is, and traditional therapy just helps people tread water, it doesn’t show them that they can actually learn to swim and get themselves to shore, to become their own rescuer. I don’t want others to have to suffer as I did, so that’s why I wrote the book and made the MBRX program, Im passionate about helping people get out of the hole that I was in for the majority of my life. Traditional therapy didn’t help me much and I don’t think I am alone there.


Traditional therapy just helps people tread water, it doesn't show them that they can actually learn to swim and get themselves to shore, to become their own rescuer. Share on X


I want to give people something that actually WORKS, and let them know that anxiety is NOT a life sentence. I also have a rich understanding of human psychology, relationships, attachment and addiction, but I focus on anxiety because that is what I know the most about. It sounds arrogant but there’s nobody in the world who knows as much about anxiety from as many perspectives as I do.


Revolutionizing Anxiety: Russell Kennedy, MD
Dr. Kennedy, playing golf at Saint Andrews golf course in Scotland the week of this article’s publication.


Have you created any other resource specifically geared towards anxiety-relief?

I’ve just released a program that will revolutionize the way anxiety is understood and treated, Most interventions for anxiety are conscious and cognitive focusing on changing the MIND, but that doesn’t address the deeper roots of anxiety in the unconscious BODY. This new program addresses both, because I feel if the unconscious roots of anxiety are not addressed and resolved directly, that the anxiety comes right back, This is the reason why CBT works well initially but the results do not “stick” over time. 


For those interested in anxiety, or putting together podcasts or events on the topic, do you speak on it?

Yes. My topic would be “A brand new approach to understanding and resolving anxiety in both ourselves and our patients.”


Video footage of Dr. Kennedy saying hello:


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