Psychedelics and the end of life

mr peabody

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Swiss LSD study yields incredible results for terminally ill patients


By Victoria Kim

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease published the results of an innovative study measuring LSD's effects on end-of-life anxiety. The study marks the first controlled trial of LSD in over 40 years. It tested the use of LSD as a complement to talk therapy for a group of 12 people nearing the end of life.

After about two months of weekly therapy, the eight participants who received full doses of LSD improved by about 20% on standard measures of anxiety. The four subjects who took a much weaker dose got worse. Overall, after following up with the group a year after the trial's conclusion, Dr. Peter Gasser, who conducted the therapy, said the patients anxiety went down and stayed down.

The drug caused no serious side effects other than temporary and therapeutically valuable times of distress. One of the subjects, a 50-year-old Austrian social worker named Peter, told the New York Times that he was worried about having a bad trip, but ended up having a mystical experience. "I had what you would call a mystical experience, I guess, lasting for some time, and the major part was pure distress at all these memories I had successfully forgotten for decades," he said. "These painful feelings, regrets, this fear of death. I remember feeling very cold for a long time. I was shivering, even though I was sweating. It was a mental coldness, I think, a memory of neglect."

One 67-year-old patient said he met his dead, estranged father somewhere out in the cosmos, who nodded to him in approval.

Switzerland is known for their progressive, harm reduction approach to drug policy. Their national heroin treatment program, for example, provides drug addicts with free methadone and clean needles. This policy has seen reduced deaths and crime rates, which is a marked turnaround from what was once the site of Zurich's infamous Platzspitz park, dubbed needle park in the 1980s.

It's been just over 70 years since Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann discovered LSD's mind-altering qualities when he absorbed some through his fingertips. But research about the drugs therapeutic qualities are just making a resurgence, along with mushrooms and ecstasy. Since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA) came into effect 44 years ago, these psychedelics were labeled as Schedule I drugs, which are defined as having no medical benefit and a high potential for abuse, making them more difficult to conduct studies with. Marijuana is also considered a Schedule I drug.

Before the CSA, close to 700 studies took place, and the research suggested that psychedelics offered significant benefits in treating alcoholism, easing end-of-life anxiety and treating many complex psychiatric illness such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The scientific community has researched psychedelics for the treatment of PTSD, alcoholism and drug addictions, and their findings have been promising. The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, for example, found that psilocybin, an active component of magic mushrooms that trigger transformative spiritual states, may have lasting medical and spiritual benefits when taken in the right dosage. The study researchers were able to reliably induce transcendental experiences in subjects. These experiences offered long-lasting psychological growth and helped people find peace in their lives without negative side effects.

With Switzerlands progressive approach to drug policy, scientists are able to conduct studies with drugs that are still very controversial in the U.S. While countries like Switzerland and Israel are ahead of the game in propelling research of the medical benefits of psychedelics, the U.S. is falling behind by limiting research of these substances.

https://mic.com/articles/84383/swiss-lsd-study-yields-incredible-results-for-terminally-ill-patients#.5Ex7THR9S

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Just one dose of psilocybin found to ease anxiety stemming from advanced cancer


By Alexandra Sifferlin

Cancer is a brutal disease on both the body and mind. Not only do treatments like chemotherapy take a massive toll, but the emotional side effects can be hard to bear. Depression and anxiety are high among people with cancer, including those in remission. But two new studies offer promising relief through an unlikely source: hallucinogenic drugs.

In two new studies released simultaneously by researchers at New York University and Johns Hopkins, doctors reveal that a single dose of psilocybin can ease anxiety and depression for up to six months. The results have great potential for people dealing with the fear associated with a cancer diagnosis, but also for people with psychiatric disorders that haven't responded to traditional treatments like psychotherapy or antidepressants.

The studies, both published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, are accompanied by 11 editorials of support from leaders in psychiatry, including two past presidents of the American Psychiatric Association. "Our results represent the strongest evidence to date of a clinical benefit from psilocybin therapy, with the potential to transform care for patients with cancer-related psychological distress," says NYU study author Dr. Stephen Ross, director of substance abuse services in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone in a statement.

The NYU Langone Medical Center study involved 29 people who had serious psychological distress, like anxiety or depression, stemming from advanced cancer. Each person received either a capsule of psilocybin or a placebo capsule; in a second session, they were given the pill they hadn't yet taken. The sessions lasted from four to six hours in a room equipped with head phones, a couch and a sleep mask.

People had their own individual experiences with the drug. But the results were remarkable: 60-80% of people in the study reported reductions in their depression and anxiety symptoms that lasted six months after the treatment.

The Johns Hopkins study, which involved 51 adults, had similar results. They each received one large dose of the drug, and six months later, 80% of the people in the trial continued to show decreases in depression and anxiety symptoms. Eighty-three percent of people reported increases in their well-being and life satisfaction, and 67% said the trial was one of the top five most meaningful experiences in their lives.

Several people described experiencing an overwhelming feeling of love while on the drug and felt they had changed immediately. The feeling of immense love lingered for weeks, and four years later I still feel it at times, says participant Dinah Bazer, who was experiencing severe anxiety about a possible ovarian cancer recurrence. My fear and anxiety were completely removed, and they haven't come back.

Lisa Callaghan's late husband, former TV news director Patrick Mettes, was also in the NYU trial. Mettes eventually died from cancer of the bile ducts, but undergoing the trial "gave him a sense of peace," says his wife. "In his trip there was an evolution through all of these stages of emotional development," says Callaghan. "He was reborn into this place of personal and universal love. He said he felt it all around him, and he felt a sense of forgiveness too."

The potential therapeutic use of psilocybin has been recognized for years, but strict drug laws implemented 45 years ago stalled research. In the 1950s and 1960s, several teams in the United States studied psychedelic compounds for potential mental disorder treatments. But widespread recreational use of the substances became cause for concern and overshadowed the possible therapeutic benefits. In 1971, psilocybin and other psychedelic compounds were classified as schedule 1 drugs, meaning that the government believes they have high potential for abuse. This classification makes it very difficult for research to continue, despite the fact that experts argue adverse side effects from psilocybin (when used responsibly) are rare.

"I tried to understand how something this big had been buried," says Ross. Due to these restrictions, says it took the hospital a couple years to get their study off the ground.

Some of the men and women in the studies did experience side effects, like nausea and headaches, but none were severe. It's unclear precisely how psilocybin works, but the study authors say that the drug may activate parts of the brain that are impacted by serotonin, which can play a role in anxiety, mood and depression.

Significantly more research is needed before psilocybin could be considered as a clinical therapy. The researchers stress that psilocybin in the trials was given in a very controlled environment with multiple investigators present, and that people should not attempt the drug on their own. There's also some concern that pharmaceutical companies may not see financial incentives in single-dose therapies.

Still, many people in the medical community are hopeful. "We're excited about finding a medicine that can be helpful to people suffering from conditions not successfully treated by standard treatment," says Dr. George Greer, medical director of the Heffter Research Institute, which helped fund the studies. "There's a lot of interest."

http://time.com/4586333/psilocybin-cancer-anxiety-depression/

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My spouse died from a slow and painful cancer. Fortunately we were able to attend a Shaman ceremony in Ecuador and partake of ayahuasca. This was a life changing event and greatly eased the pain.

-Karin


 
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mr peabody

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Psilocybin helps cancer patient overcome anxiety

by Robin Marantz Henig

Carol Vincent was having a psychedelic experience, taking part in a study just published that looks at whether cancer patients like her could overcome their death-related anxiety and depression with a single dose of psilocybin.

By the time she found her way to Hopkins in 2014, Vincent, now 61, had been living for six years with a time bomb of a diagnosis: Follicular Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, which she was told was incurable. It was asymptomatic at the time except for a few enlarged lymph nodes, but was expected to start growing at some undefined future date; when it did, Vincent would have to start chemotherapy just to keep it in check. By 2014, still symptom-free, Vincent had grown moderately anxious, depressed, and wary, on continual high alert for signs that the cancer growth had finally begun.

"The anvil over your head, the constant surveillance of your health — it takes a toll," says Vincent, who owns an advertising agency in Victoria, British Columbia. She found herself thinking, "What's the point of this? All I'm doing is waiting for the lymphoma." There was no sense of being able to look forward to something. When she wasn't worrying about her cancer, she was worrying about her son, then in his mid-20s and going through a difficult time. What would happen to him if she died?

Participating in the psilocybin study, she says, was the first thing she'd looked forward to in years.

The experiment involved two treatments with psilocybin, roughly one month apart — one at a dose high enough to bring on a markedly altered state of consciousness, the other at a very low dose to serve as a control. It's difficult to design an experiment like this to compare treatment with an actual placebo, since it's obvious to everyone when a psychedelic experience is underway.

The NYU study used a design similar to Hopkins' but with an active placebo, the B vitamin niacin, instead of very-low-dose psilocybin as the control. Niacin speeds up heart rate but doesn't have any psychedelic effect. In both studies it was random whether a volunteer got the dose or the control first, but everyone got both, and the order seemed to make no difference in the outcome.

Vincent had to travel from her home in Victoria to Baltimore for the sessions; her travel costs were covered by the Heffter Research Institute, the New Mexico nonprofit that funded both studies. She spent the day before each treatment with the two Hopkins staffers who would be her guides during the psilocybin trip. They helped her anticipate some of the emotional issues — the kind of baggage everyone has — that might come to the fore during the experience.

The guides told Vincent that she might encounter some hallucinations that were frightening, and that she shouldn't try to run away from them. "If you see scary stuff," they told her, just open up and walk right in."

They repeated that line the following day—just open up and walk right in—when Vincent returned to Hopkins at 9 a.m., having eaten a light breakfast. The treatment took place in a hospital room designed to feel as homey as possible. It felt like your first apartment after college, circa 1970, she says, with a beige couch, a couple of armchairs and some abstract art on the wall.

Vincent was given the pill in a ceramic chalice, and in about 20 minutes she started to feel woozy. She lay down on the couch, put on some eye shades and headphones to block out exterior sights and sounds, and focused on what was happening inside her head. The headphones delivered a carefully-chosen playlist of Western classical music, from Bach and Beethoven to Barber's "Adagio for Strings," interspersed with some sitar music and Buddhist chants. Vincent recalled the music as mostly soothing or uplifting, though occasionally there were some brooding pieces in a minor key that led her images to a darker place.

With the music as background, Vincent started to experience a sequence of vivid hallucinations that took her from the deep sea to vast outer space. Listening to her describe it is like listening to anyone describe a dream — it's a disjointed series of scenes, for which the intensity and meaning can be hard to convey.

She remembered seeing neon geometric shapes, a gold shield spelling out the name Jesus, a whole series of cartoon characters—a fish, a rabbit, a horse, a pirate ship, a castle, a crab, a superhero in a cape—and at some point she entered a crystal cave encrusted with prisms. "It was crazy how overwhelmed by the beauty I was," she says, sometimes to the point of weeping. "Everything I was looking at was so spectacular."

At one point she heard herself laughing in her sons voice, in her brother's voice, and in the voices of other family members. The cartoon characters kept appearing in the midst of all that spectacular beauty, especially the comical crab that emerged two more times. She saw a frightening black vault, which she thought might contain something terrifying. But remembering her guides' advice "to just open up and walk right in," she investigated, and found that the only thing inside it was herself.

When the experience was over, about six hours after it began, the guides sent Vincent back to the hotel with her son, who had accompanied her to Baltimore, and asked her to write down what she'd visualized and what she thought about it.

Three years after her trip, Carol Vincent is still symptom-free, and she's no longer waiting in dread for the cancer to show itself. I didn't get answers to questions like, "Where are you, God?" or "Why did I get cancer?" she says. What she got instead, she says, was the realization that all her fears and worries turn out to be "really insignificant" in the big picture of the universe.
 
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Psilocybin for end-of-life anxiety


By Marlene Rupp

"It’s almost as if when you take psilocybin, it’s like taking onboard your own psychotherapist," said one participant about his psychedelic experience. A widespread belief about psychedelic drugs is that they can turn users mentally ill; what the data shows, however, is that psychedelics can achieve quite the opposite effect: they afford patients a relief of symptoms. Indeed, a growing body of evidence supports that psychedelic drugs may be extraordinarily effective in treating mood disorder and addiction.

Not surprisingly, facing one’s own mortality can unleash strong emotions. Up to 40 percent of cancer patients develop a mood disorder which in turn interferes with their chances of recovery. Psychedelic drugs certainly can’t heal cancer, but it appears they can mitigate the accompanying psychological distress.

Lead researcher Roland Griffiths and his team at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine tested this hypothesis with 51 cancer patients. One group received a high dose of psilocybin, whereas the control group received an active placebo, which in this case was a very low dose of psilocybin that had no detectable behavioral effects. In this way, all participants were told they were taking psilocybin.

5 weeks after treatment with high-dose psilocybin, 92 percent of depressed patients and 76 percent of anxious patients showed significant improvements in symptoms. These positive results were not only immediate, but also long-lasting. Six months after their psychedelic experience, the patients suffering from depression were still going strong, with improvement rates of 79 percent. Regarding end-of-life anxiety, the improvement rate further increased from 76 percent five weeks after the treatment to 83 percent six months after the treatment. What’s more, half a year after the psilocybin session, over 80 percent of all participants stated that the experience had increased their well-being and/or life satisfaction.

"Such a substantial and enduring effect after a single dose is unprecedented in the field of psychiatry," said Roland Griffiths, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins.

"We are looking at a new paradigm for the way mental disorders can be treated,"
said Pharmacologist Dr. David Nichols, President and co-founder of the Heffter Research Institute.
 
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Ketamine infusion therapies for end-of-life care

For a terminal illness ketamine may be a great treatment option. Psychedelic drugs and their derivatives, such as ketamine, help patients cope with existential concerns, and can reduce anxiety leading up to death. Ketamine infusion therapies can offer end-of-life patients peace of mind.

Patients who have access to psychedelic medications as part of treatment for their terminal illness have found that they werent scared of death anymore. They frequently say that the treatment was one of the most meaningful experiences theyve had, ever. They talk about gaining a sense of peace with the universe, and having a sense of universal oneness and serenity. Their anxiety typically decreases significantly.

Palliative and hospice care professionals, as well as all of the individuals who care for their loved ones, do an exceptional job caring for those in the various stages of dying. But often the depression, anxiety, and melancholy that come with having a terminal diagnosis go untreated. Ketamine infusions may be one good option for addressing this part of end-of-life care. In most cases, ketamine works instantly and helps to treat those often-overlooked symptoms in a way that few if any treatments beyond psychedelics can.

An appropriate treatment regime may involve a series of outpatient infusion therapies followed by maintenance treatments from time to time as needed by the patient.

The opportunity to provide some relief from depression, anxiety and fear may be a great gift for many facing death. And for those who are particularly struggling it may be especially welcome.

-Dr. Allison Wells
 
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LSD found to markedly reduce anxiety in terminal patients


by Nancy Wride

A small trial conducted in 2014 in Switzerland demonstrated the potential for LSD-assisted psychotherapy to reduce anxiety stemming from terminal illness. At 2-month follow-up,
participants who were randomly assigned to treatment with LSD showed significant reductions in state anxiety. At one-year follow-up, participants in the LSD group demonstrated
sustained therapeutic benefit with no acute or chronic adverse affects.


The first research in 40 years testing lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) has found that it markedly reduces anxiety in patients facing life-threatening diseases. The results of the study of LSD use as a supplement to psychotherapy were published this month online in the peer-reviewed Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study in 12 subjects found statistically significant reductions in anxiety associated with advanced stage illness following two LSD-assisted psychotherapy sessions, announced MAPS, which sponsored the study. The results also indicate that LSD-assisted psychotherapy can be safely administered in these subjects.
 

mr peabody

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I recently returned from a psilocybin retreat in Jamaica – where Psilocybin is legal. I was provided with psilocybin and safely guided through my experience. I was extremely fortunate to find information on psilocybin through someone who recently joined Durham’s Cornucopia late stage cancer support group. She provided not only information about her experience with psilocybin but also information on psilocybin studies – including a recent study at John’s Hopkins. Even if I had known about psilocybin, I would not have known how to get access to it without that.

I want people to know that the psilocybin IS available and there are clinics with extensive knowledge of psilocybin, great respect for mushrooms and the healing benefits. People can benefit now. My experience was life changing. I have energy, a sense of purpose and joy in my heart. I am no longer on the antidepressants, Ritalin and Valium Cocktail that wasn’t helping me. I am happy and living. I am no longer dying. And I laugh often.

-Eric Osborne

• • •

I am a 58 year old retired small business owner forced into early retirement by cancer, and the traumatic effects, both physical and mental, of the treatment of cancer. I'd gone from a person who worked 12 hours/day 6 days/week, hiked, camped, and fished to a person immobilized by depression, anxiety, and grinding fatigue who relied on a daily cocktail of Ritalin, Ativan, Tramadol, and whatever antidepressants my therapist was currently trying out on me. I was desperate, as a person with Stage 4 Cancer, not to live out whatever time I had left like a drugged vegetable, unable to do the things on my bucket list, crying all the time, thinking only of cancer returning.

A friend gave me Michael Pollan’s New Yorker article, “The Trip Treatment,” which contained information about the clinical trial research that had been done at Johns Hopkins and NYU, showing psilocybin to lift, with durability, depression and anxiety suffered by Stage 4 Cancer patients. But how to find the mushrooms? I found a psilocybin assisted retreat in Jamaica, through a Google search. Magic mushrooms are legal in Jamaica. Impressed and reassured by the healing intent, and the serious emphasis placed on set and setting, I decided to go to Jamaica.

From my first session with the mushrooms, my depression and anxiety lifted and I had no use, craving or need for the drugs I had been taking. My energy returned, the fatigue was gone. And those were just the physical results. The spiritual experience of the sessions was and continues to be almost incommunicable. That said, it was not a recreational experience. It was a hard but absolutely joyous work that continues as I integrate the sessions into everyday life, and it will remain as one of the most significant events of my lifetime. I only wish that young people, healthy people, all people, could benefit from the life affirming lessons of psilocybin mushrooms.

-Diana
 
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Psychedelics and end-of-life anxiety


Few things are as frightening as facing ones own mortality, and the challenges of grappling with the existential make the everyday problems of sickness and pain even more challenging. Terminally ill patients with advanced cancer or other diseases are understandably prone to depression and anxiety, which makes difficult circumstances considerably more difficult for them and their families. To ease this end of life transition, doctors have been researching the therapeutic value of psychedelics as a catalyst for emotional catharsis and acceptance that can allow patients to better come to peace with their situation. Such research gives us a chance at a major and meaningful breakthrough.

This research first started in the 60s with psychiatrist and psychedelic therapy pioneer Stanislav Grof who found very promising results before the cultural backlash against psychedelics made further study impossible. Today, this research is continuing under the guidance of leading edge Swiss and US researchers who are using psilocybin and LSD in clinical trials with terminally ill patients.

Psilocybin

Dr. Charles Grob, a researcher and psychiatrist at the UCLA Medical Center, studied the effects of psilocybin or magic mushrooms in end of life treatment for terminal cancer patients. The study involved 12 subjects who were dying of end-stage cancer. Grobs process involved the double-blind administration of either the psilocybin or a placebo, and gave the patients 7 hours to go on an inward journey in a safe environment with regular checkups by trained staff. After the session, patients were asked to describe their experiences and their levels of anxiety were measured.

The results of Grobs study were highly encouraging. While many of the patients underwent challenging moments during their psychedelic journey, they were cathartic and therapeutically valuable parts of the experience. Grob concluded that psilocybin was safe to administer in such an environment, and that it lead to a significant reduction in anxiety at 1 and 3 months after treatment. He further asserted that the results support the need for more research in this long-neglected field.

LSD

Another psychedelic being studied for end of life care is LSD. Swiss scientist Dr. Peter Gasser recently completed the first controlled trial of LSD in over 40 years, and it too produced very encouraging results. Like the psilocybin study, Dr. Gassers LSD study involved 12 terminally-ill patients who underwent psychedelic journeys in a controlled and safe environment. Gassers patients described emotional rollercoasters and mystical experiences that put their end of life transition in a new light. For those patients who received full doses of LSD, their anxiety went down and stayed down for a year or more after treatment.

New hope for the hopeless

Gasser and Grobs research on psilocybin and LSD should be a wake up call for doctors, caregivers, and families that are dealing with terminal illness. Their studies illustrate that these psychedelics are safe to administer in a proper environment, and they offer highly valuable introspective journeys that lead to measurable positive benefits, such as anxiety reduction.

Caring for those who are facing the end of their life and easing their stress is incredibly important both for the individual and their family. It is universal, and every culture has worked to ease this transition and to make it more understandable. End of life therapy is potentially entering an exciting new stage. It is wonderful news that we are once again studying and embracing psychedelics as important healing tools in these scenarios.

https://psychedelictimes.com/psyched...-life-therapy/
 
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A dose of magic mushroom, and then lasting peace


On a summer morning in 2013, Octavian Mihai entered a softly lit room furnished with a small statue of Buddha, a box of tissues and a single red rose. From an earthenware chalice, he swallowed a capsule of psilocybin, an ingredient found in hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Then he put on an eye mask and headphones and lay down on a couch. Soon, images flew by like shooting stars: a spinning world that looked like a blue-green chessboard; himself on a stretcher in front of a hospital; his parents, gazing at him with aching sadness as he reached out to them with childlike love.

Psilocybin has been illegal in the United States for more than 40 years. But Mr. Mihai, who had just finished treatment for Stage 3 Hodgkins lymphoma, was participating in a study looking at whether the drug can reduce anxiety and depression in cancer patients. Throughout that eight-hour session, a psychiatrist and a social worker from NYU Langone Medical Center stayed by his side.

The results from that study, and a similar small, controlled trial, were striking. About 80 percent of cancer patients showed clinically significant reductions in both psychological disorders, a response sustained some seven months after the single dose. Side effects were minimal.

In both trials, the intensity of the mystical experience described by patients correlated with the degree to which their depression and anxiety decreased.

The studies, by researchers at New York University, with 29 patients, and at Johns Hopkins University, with 51, were released concurrently in The Journal of Psychopharmacology. They proceeded after arduous review by regulators and are the largest and most meticulous among a handful of trials to explore the possible therapeutic benefit of psilocybin.

Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, a past president of the American Psychiatric Association, and Dr. Daniel Shalev of the New York State Psychiatric Institute are among leaders in psychiatry, addiction medicine and palliative care who endorsed the work. "The studies," they wrote, "are a model for revisiting criminalized compounds of interest in a safe, ethical way."

"If research restrictions could be eased," they continued, "there is much potential for new scientific insights and clinical applications."

Although cancer patients will not have access to therapeutically administered psilocybin anytime soon, the findings add vigor to applications to expand research in a multicenter trial with hundreds of participants.

Some medical professionals held the studies at arms length. Dr. William Breitbart, chairman of the psychiatry department at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, questioned this use of cancer patients. "Medical marijuana got its foot in the door by making the appeal that, cancer patients are suffering, they're near death, so for compassionate purposes, let's make it available, he said. And then you are able to extend this drug to other purposes."

Psilocybin trials are underway in the United States and Europe for alcoholism, tobacco addiction and treatment-resistant depression. Other hallucinogens are also being studied for clinical application. This week, the Food and Drug Administration approved a large-scale trial investigating MDMA, the illegal party drug better known as Ecstasy, for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cancer-related psychological distress, which afflicts up to 40 percent of patients, can be resistant to conventional therapy. Mr. Mihais anxiety began when doctors finally told him he was in remission.

He would keep touching the nodules on his neck, where the cancer had announced itself. He flew to Europe to celebrate the end of treatment and his graduation from college, but abruptly returned to New York, terrified to be away from oncologists. He began drinking daily, hard, jeopardizing his fragile health.

Alarmed, doctors suggested the psilocybin study.

He took the capsule and began tripping. After seeing himself on a hospital stretcher, he recalled: I had an epiphany.

"Why are you letting yourself be terrorized by cancer coming back? This is dumb. Its in your power to get rid of the fear," he told himself. "That's when I saw black smoke rising from my body. And it felt great."

Three years later, Mr. Mihai, now 25 and a physician assistant in Las Vegas, said, "I'm not anxious about cancer anymore. I'm not anxious about dying. The session," he added, has made my life richer."

In the 1940s and 1950s, hallucinogens were studied in hundreds of trials. But by 1970, when those drugs were placed in the most restricted regulatory category, research ground to a near halt.

Since about 2000, investigators have begun studying them, mostly with private funding. These two studies built on a 2011 UCLA psilocybin pilot project with 12 cancer patients.

Both share similarities. All volunteers had diagnoses of cancer-related anxiety or depression. Patients were randomly given a placebo or synthetic psilocybin, and not told which. Within seven weeks, they were given the other sample.

All patients were educated about the drug, monitored by two people throughout the placebo and psilocybin sessions, and seen for follow-up evaluation.

Researchers created seven-hour music playlists, paced to the anticipated rhythms of the drug reaction. N.Y.U. leaned toward New Age and world music, Brian Eno; sitars; didgeridoos. Johns Hopkins favored Western classical.

At N.Y.U., psychotherapists tried to layer the session into patients memories by asking them to write about their visions in a journal and discuss the experience in meetings. The Johns Hopkins study, led by Roland R. Griffiths, a psychopharmacologist, had monitors who urged participants to trust, let go and be open.

The N.Y.U. researchers assessed patients the next day and found the effects to be immediate in most of them.

Dr. Stephen Ross, the lead investigator and chief of addiction psychiatry at N.Y.U., pointed out that antidepressants, by contrast, can take weeks to show benefit.

"Cancer patients with anxiety and depression need help immediately," he said, "especially if you consider that they are at elevated risk for completed suicide."

Some experts questioned the reliability of the results. Dr. Breitbart said that because diagnoses ranged from early-stage cancer to imminent terminal illness, it was impossible to know which patients might have come through their psychological ordeal without psilocybin, whether some might have adapted to the new norms of their disease; felt stronger once chemotherapy side effects, including depression, had abated; or even experienced an improvement in health.

None of those possibilities fit Kevin, who had a bone-marrow transplant for acute myeloid leukemia. It sent his cancer into remission, but left him with graft-versus-host disease.

Suffering from chronic pain and fatigue, Kevin, 57, who lives in central Michigan and asked that his last name be withheld because he had been in law enforcement, had to retire. Four years after the transplant, he despaired.

"Going through a near-death illness is similar to returning from combat, he said. It damages who you are, to the core of what it is to be human."

"I was hoping to get out of this funk of waiting for the other shoe to drop," he added. "You are looking up to the heavens, saying, What else can I try?"

In 2013, Kevin entered the Johns Hopkins trial. During his session, he saw spirals of iridescent spheres that folded in on themselves.

"The experience didn't restore me to my former life," he said, "but I have a greater sense of peace of what might come. I am very grateful, beyond words, for this trial. But you have to approach the session with the right intentions of why you are doing it. Because you are going to meet yourself."

Researchers do not know why psilocybin has worked in these settings. Neuroimaging scans of healthy volunteers show areas of the brain lighting up or resting during dosing. Hallucinogens activate a serotonin receptor that can lead to the alterations of consciousness reported routinely.

One theory is that psilocybin interrupts the circuitry of self-absorbed thinking that is so pronounced in depressed people, making way for a mystical experience of selfless unity.

The studies received funding from the Heffter Research Institute, an alliance of scientists interested in the medical study of hallucinogens. Dr. George Greer, the co-founder of Heffter, does not see a commercial future for psilocybin, even if it is eventually approved for therapeutic use, because these patients needed only one dose.

Instead, he envisions a nonprofit manufacturer, with distribution restricted to specialized clinics.

Researchers were emphatic that these results should not be interpreted as condoning hallucinogenic mushrooms for self-treatment. Dr. Griffiths noted that patients received extensive support, which may have deepened and secured their life-affirming transformations.

"People will take psilocybin at a rave or at Burning Man, the art and performance desert festival, but the effect," he said, "evaporates like water running through their hands."

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/01/h...epression.html
 
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Psilocybin helps some in coping with cancer

Richard Cone was going to die, just like everybody else. But unlike most, he could foresee his moment of passing. It was coming in 2, maybe 3 more years—at least that’s what his oncologist said.

Cone had just been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. The burden of disease was only exceeded by the excruciating awareness that before very long, he’d meet his untimely end. Following his diagnosis, he lacked the desire or energy to get out of bed. His only motivation to go on living was spurred by the shoddy hope that return visits to the oncology department might produce some new and unexpected breakthrough.

And one day, they did. Following a treatment session, his oncologist approached him with a small pamphlet, only a few pages long, and placed it in his hand. On the cover, Cone read the words, “Coping with Cancer.” There was an opportunity within the folios, his doctor said.

Cone wasn’t convinced. “I had already coped with cancer,” he told MD Magazine. He had lost his 8-year-old daughter Tanya to the disease and was just beginning to move on before the condition began to haunt him, too.

At first, he spurned his doctor’s pamphlet. But as time passed, depression continued to weigh on him. Finally, he picked it up, opened the cover, and was met with something extraordinary.

“The first picture inside was of a mushroom. I guessed right away what it was,” Cone said.

The pamphlet called for volunteers who were depressed and had incurable conditions to enroll in a clinical trial of psilocybin. It was a trial led by Roland R. Griffiths, PhD, a world-renowned professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, known widely for his work with mood-altering drugs.

“I was, low-grade, but continuously depressed. I had an incurable condition. This, I felt, was for me,” Cone said.

A HISTORY OF PSYCHEDELICS IN PSYCHIATRY

Psilocybin is one of several psychedelic drugs that has been studied by physicians for its effects on mood, depression, and trauma. Along with methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as MDMA, and a few others, it has been periodically involved in clinical research as far back as the 1950s.

But in the 1970s, right around the time that clinical trial design began to be more closely reexamined to include placebo controls, blinding, and randomization, these drugs were rescheduled by the United States government to their current designation: Schedule I, no value.

“You have this mountain of studies until about 1970, and then it stops. All human studies stopped, so there were just ongoing animal studies that were trying to understand their abuse liability,” said Charles L. Raison, MD, professor in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “There was a hiatus of 26 or 27 years where research was just killed, and when it started again there were significant difficulties and significant pressure. It was really a challenge.”

Had psychedelics been available to study in the 1980s when modern pharmacology started to take off, people would have studied it, Raison said. Physicians and scientists would have been able to push harder to pursue them for an indication. “I’m almost certain that we’d be in a totally different world,” he said.

Absence of clinical evidence soon became a compounded issue. When there’s no research, attention tends to wane. Not only do clinical trials stop, but meta-analyses and trial reviews cease too. As a result, physician awareness and interest in exploring novel psychedelic therapies dwindles.

“Generally, when you read the reviews, the literature was given a very short shrift, and shown to be ineffective,” said Mike Bogenschutz, MD, professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine. “But when you go back and look, several trials found that, in fact, there was a robust effect of psilocybin over control treatment at the first follow-up and it persisted for at least 6 months.”

That evidence alone is strong enough to warrant continued studies on psychedelics, he said.

DON’T RUN AWAY, RIGHT YOUR WAY

Following the revelatory moment spurred by his oncologist’s pamphlet, Cone enrolled in Griffiths’ trial. As if to make up for the decades-long research drought, Griffiths’ team worked to gather as much concrete and objective data as possible. For Cone, the process was arduous.

“After the dose, they ask you to sit down and write a report, which was helpful for both me and them,” he said. “They don’t know what’s going on inside me, so the reports really cemented the memory. It’s sort of like dream—if you write them down right away, you can capture them. I still have the reports. I look at them occasionally.”

Before his first double-blinded session with psilocybin, he spent time getting to know his “guides,” the physicians who attended to him during his sessions. They would need to be comfortable with each other, they said. If Cone were ever to become afraid or begin experiencing trouble, the guides would be there to help him through it.

“There was one point where I was both moved and afraid, and they sat on either side of me and just held me,” Cone said. “They didn’t say anything, they just held me, and I calmed down and continued. When I was not progressing rapidly, on a couple occasions, they would break in with guided imagery, which really helped unlock me on a few occasions.”

One of Cone’s guides was Bill Richards, MD, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins. Cone said Richards gave him important advice: “If in the middle of your trip, a dragon comes at you with huge jaws and teeth, bellowing fire and fumes, right your way, don’t run away. Ask the dragon what it wants. It’s your unconscious making this dragon.”

“My unconscious is pissed because I’m ignoring something,” Cone said. “It’s a clear example of the editing function of our brains, which filters our subconscious, being relaxed. Out comes this great frustration.”

Raison said that patients often confront their demons—or dragons—in these sessions. It can bring on intense feelings of liberation, he added, because it helps them feel as if they’ve mastered something, or moved beyond a hurdle that was holding them back.

Cone’s dragon was the grief that surrounded his daughter’s death. In his first session, he found himself thinking of Tanya. He had grieved when she got cancer and done his best to cope with her death. But now he found himself grieving and coping all over again. It always seemed to come back to Tanya.

“I thought I had done my grieving, but on that first trip, as I got into it, it reemerged,” Cone said. “I re-experienced the intensity and profundity of the grief that I felt in the immediate aftermath of her death, and I let myself feel that grief even more intensely than I had.”

Laying on a sofa in a living room filled with the soft sounds of classical music, Cone found himself sobbing and howling over his daughter’s death, an event that had passed decades ago.

“When my wife came back into the room afterward, I told her that I had gone through this intense grieving episode, but she said that I seemed very happy,” he said. “I was. I had stored up, for 25 years, some yet-to-be-resolved grief. When I let it go, I felt better. I really felt the intense grief, and that was useful.”

DATA AS FUEL

Since the 1970s and 80s, a slow crawl back to the clinical understanding of psychedelics has been gaining momentum. In the mid-1990s, Rick Strassman, MD, conducted a dimethyltryptamine (DMT) study in New Mexico. In Switzerland, Franz Vollenweider, MD, began trials following in the footsteps of research from the 1960s, with the hypothesis that therapies could be models for psychosis.

Then, in the 2000s, Griffiths began exploring the effectiveness of psilocybin for treating patients with depression, anxiety, and other conditions. “Roland and his crew began doing careful studies and normal controls that showed that it was safe, people did not freak out, and it had beneficial effects on personality,” Raison said.

Institutions like the Usona Research Institute, where Raison is the director of clinical and translational research, and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), where he works as a scientific advisor, and the Heffter Institute, which funded both Griffiths' study and a study on addiction and psilocybin conducted by Bogenschutz, have spearheaded studies and clinical examinations of these drugs. Raison likened his organizations to nonprofit pharmaceutical companies that have been effective in acquiring funding for trials from donations and grants.

Bogenschutz has been spearheading clinical research in alcohol and drug use for 2 decades but was not particularly involved with psychotherapy to start.

“I didn’t know that anyone was giving psilocybin to people in clinical settings,” Bogenschutz said of the recent trials. “Turns out that under carefully controlled conditions, it appears to be safe and well tolerated and cause very minimal persistent adverse effects. For very many people it appears to be, in their estimate, a very positive experience.”

One of the trials that caught his eye was Griffiths’. Another, in 2012, was a meta-analysis that combed through older trials to determine which had produced results that could be deemed statistically significant and clinically relevant based on the standards of modern trials.

“When the results were pooled in that meta-analysis, they were statistically and clinically significant, with an odds ratio close to 2 in favor of the therapy,” Bogenschutz said. “That’s way more effective than any FDA-approved treatment for alcoholism.”

Raison, likewise, has a well known psychiatric researcher for some time, but has been involved psychedelic and psychoactive research now for just about 3 years. While public perception has become more progressive, he admits that the war on drugs still has an impact on how their clinical use is understood.

“It’s interesting. There are some leading institutions that are very much opposed to this work, actually, and then, on the other hand, there are some leading institutions in the United States that are all about it,” Raison said. “If you look at the places that are doing psilocybin work, they are not second rate. They’re Yale, Johns Hopkins, the University of California at San Francisco, and NYU. These are top, top places, all of which [Usona] are actively involved with.”

Both Raison and Bogenschutz agreed that more data is the key to convincing skeptics in the medical community that these therapies are valuable. Physicians are, after all, largely data-driven decision-makers, Bogenschutz said.

New data is already telling a compelling story and the powers that be are tuned-in. In August 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted MDMA a Breakthrough Therapy designation—a huge step for the psychedelic class of drugs.

TEMPERING EXPECTATIONS

Raison admits that as a researcher, he tends to be “out on the far edge of things.” But with a long-standing involvement in the study of psychedelic therapies, he’s become used to—and even welcomes—skepticism.

“I would start something, and people would look at me like I was crazy, and then it would be a couple years later and people would be looking at me like I was innovative, then maybe another couple years and it would be obvious what I was doing,” he said. “For a number of years, we didn’t get any respect in the medical community, but we just kept at it.”

Raison and Bogenschutz agree that it’s not the skeptics that scientists should worry about. Rather, those in favor of the therapies’ approvals are more likely to clog their progress through the pipeline.

“People are so desperate for treatments for things like PTSD [posttraumatic stress disorder] and depression that they are now overselling these treatments,” Raison said. “We haven’t even done the studies yet and they’re being sort of enthroned in heaven as what’s going to be the answer to all of our troubles—which I can promise is not true.”

The truth is that these treatments—just like any other novel therapy—carry risks and rewards. There have been tragic outcomes associated with illicit psychedelics, Bogenschutz said, but that risk can be mitigated or avoided in controlled settings.

“You give a talk and there will be some people who have an entrenched belief that these are dangerous and using them therapeutically is crazy,” Bogenschutz said. “Then there are people who are critical of the war on drugs, and maybe are enthusiastic about potential benefits of psychedelics and want to believe they’re magic cures—and they’re not.”

Most people, Bogenschutz hopes, will let the evidence speak for itself, and come down somewhere in the middle.

A SECOND CHANCE

After his daughter died, Cone dreamed that she became a Buddha. When he awoke, he bought a small Buddha statue to symbolize her memory.

For his second session in the trial, Cone’s guides asked him to bring in an object that was important to him. Naturally, he brought the Buddha. “Richards asked me to consider the Buddha. At the time, I was [able to] view it from an angle I’d never looked at it from,” Cone said. “I stroked its cheek, and [the Buddha] leaned into it, like a cat would. It was animated, and that was a real pleasure. Other things in the room become animated, too. They were not rigid and unchangeable.”

Cone’s depression began to lift, and by the end of the trial, he felt like a new person. The psychedelic therapies helped him confront his demons and properly grieve, he said, for both himself and his daughter.

Years after the trial, Cone’s cancer is now under control. There’s no evidence to suggest that it should be tied to his participation in psychedelic therapy, but the fact remains that psilocybin helped Cone open the door to a new life. “It’s like I’m realizing I am alive and OK,” he said. “I’d like to live life fully and enjoy it, and to be depressed is no way to do that. I feel free to enjoy it and to not be depressed. It was transforming.”

Cone’s oncologist only recommended the trial after he had exhausted his clinical treatment options over a course of 3 years. Whether for personal or scientific beliefs, he wasn’t confident that psychedelic therapy would be useful. The skepticism is warranted, Cone said, but it speaks to the struggles Raison, Bogenschutz and countless other researchers are up against.

Cone speaks about his experience freely. His memory of the time is vivid. Like many others who go through this type of experience, he says it was one of the most meaningful of his life.

“It’s a little like opening up the connections between unconscious and conscious, like putting aside the editing function of your brain. Everything that arises in our unconscious doesn’t emerge—somewhere in there is an editor. But this is like the editor gets relaxed. Not dismissed altogether, but more willing to let things happen,” he said.

With more research, the world may become willing to accept that psilocybin and other psychedelics have benefits that outweigh their risks, especially when delivered in a clinical setting. After all, Griffiths’ study—the one that changed Cone’s life—was a resounding success. In the trial, 80% of the patients maintained a positive clinical response up to 6 months after their dose was administered.

http://www.mdmag.com/medical-news/ru...tric-treatment



Allyson and Alex Grey
 
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mr peabody

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Psilocybin offers relief from cancer-related depression and anxiety

“Psilocybin produces a substantial and sustained decrease in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.”

-Roland Griffiths, Journal of Psychopharmacology

According to researchers, a single large dose if psilocybin helped provide relief for people suffering from cancer related depression and anxiety for up to six months.

In a small double-blind study, Johns Hopkins researchers report that a substantial majority of people suffering cancer-related anxiety or depression found considerable relief for up to six months from a single large dose of psilocybin—the active compound in hallucinogenic “magic mushrooms.”

The Johns Hopkins team released its study results, involving 51 adult patients, concurrently with researchers from New York University Langone Medical Center, who conducted a similarly designed study on 29 participants. Both studies are published today in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

The Johns Hopkins group reported that psilocybin decreased clinician- and patient-rated depressed mood, anxiety, and death anxiety. The compound increased quality of life, life meaning, and optimism. Six months after the final session of treatment:

- About 80% of participants continued to show clinically significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety, with about 60% showing symptom remission into the normal range

- 83% reported increases in well-being or life satisfaction

- 67% of participants reported the experience as one of the top five meaningful experiences in their lives

- About 70% reported the experience as one of their top five spiritually significant lifetime events

“The most interesting and remarkable finding is that a single dose of psilocybin, which lasts four to six hours, produced enduring decreases in depression and anxiety symptoms, and this may represent a fascinating new model for treating some psychiatric conditions,” says Roland Griffiths, professor of behavioral biology in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Griffiths notes that traditional psychotherapy offered to people with cancer, including behavioral therapy and antidepressants, can take weeks or even months, aren’t always effective, and in the case of some drugs, such as benzodiazepines, may have addictive and other troubling side effects.

For the study, the investigators recruited 51 participants diagnosed with life-threatening cancers, most of which were recurrent or metastatic. Each participant had two treatment sessions scheduled five weeks apart, one with a psilocybin dose too low to produce effects taken in a capsule and meant to act as a “control” placebo. In the other session, participants received a capsule with what is considered a moderate or high dose.

The researchers assessed each participant’s mood, attitude about life, behaviors, and spirituality with questionnaires and structured interviews before the first session, seven hours after taking the psilocybin, five weeks after each session, and six months after the second session. Immediately after the sessions, participants completed questionnaires assessing changes in visual, auditory, and body perceptions; feelings of transcendence; changes in mood; and more.

“Before beginning the study, it wasn’t clear to me that this treatment would be helpful, since cancer patients may experience profound hopelessness in response to their diagnosis, which is often followed by multiple surgeries and prolonged chemotherapy,” Griffiths says. “I could imagine that cancer patients would receive psilocybin, look into the existential void and come out even more fearful. However, the positive changes in attitudes, moods, and behavior that we documented in healthy volunteers were replicated in cancer patients.”

http://neurosciencenews.com/psilocyb...-anxiety-5641/
 
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25-2-2018

I love what John Hopkins does with this research. While we are fed politics on public news it would seem humanity is pretty useless. But it is the same humanity that can tells us how far stars are and what they are made of. So thanks Mr Peabody for posting these articles. I usually take my time and do all the questionaires JHU have come out about psychedelics. The video of the people that were dying was touching too. Psilocybin changed their fear to hope and to me that is a win no matter how you look at it. Good to know there is intelligent research going on.
There's this girl I work with whose dad is in bad shape with cancer. He has had it before but relapsed, and this time is not going well, from what she told me today. I've suggested other comfort meds in the past (gabapentin for neuro pain, methadone and its NMDA antagonism as a superior opioid for general discomfort) and she seemed to be relatively appreciative and open minded. I've been wanting to suggest LSD as things have worsened but can never work up the courage. She and her family are pretty "square" and I feel like I will come off as a creepy, dirty hippie. She's extremely nice and a great person and I feel in my position this is really the only thing I can do for them, other than the obvious of trying to just listen and support. Like many others, I find LSD to be .... Cathartic. Leading to epiphanies. Leading to love, acceptance. I hate that it is lumped in with "drugz!" Like coke, alcohol, whatever. It is a magical thing that we should all treat with respect. If I were dying, I would want someone to provide me this opportunity... to connect with life and my family on a deeper level than possible otherwise. To accept what is coming, and to be able to see it clearly, with a mind free of terror. But to someone from a different world, where psychedelics are "drugz!" It would be a huge leap of faith that most wouldn't make, especially if suggested by a random stranger. I'm talking in circles here, I'm just nervous, I mean... What's the harm in suggesting an opportunity? Ugh.. What to do?
Well, I'll try. First of all, loved ones with cancer... this is deeply personal... a family thing. I humbly suggest that unless you are either married to this girl, or in a deeply committed long-term relationship with her, she may not be willing or able to accept your advice in this matter, especially if she has had no experience herself with psychedelics,  which, let's face it, is also deeply personal. My heart goes out to you, it really does, having just been through this with my son-in-law. Sometimes, all we can do, as you put it, is to just be there, listen and support. Warmest wishes now and always.
 

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Psychedelics help cancer patients let go


It was only a few months ago that researchers showed that combining psychotherapy with psilocybin, the psychedelic compound found in "magic" mushrooms, could relieve anxiety and depression in patients with advanced cancer. But many of the effects of psychedelics remain poorly understood, and why patients felt better was an open question.

For a recent paper, the same researchers from New York University interviewed patients about their experience of psilocybin-assisted therapy. They described transformed relationships with their loved ones, finding themselves able to let go of resentments and offer forgiveness. The psychedelic experience sparked emotional catharsis for all the participants, and many felt a greater sense of connectedness with the rest of the world. Their experiences, in other words, sound very much like your typical psilocybin trip.

But the study's authors point out that this may be the first qualitative analysis of patients in psychedelic therapy. Recent research has shown psychedelics may reduce suicide risk, help treat addiction, and even alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder. Quantitative studies that measure treatment effects, the researchers note, are valuable for testing hypotheses, but they don't help us generate hypotheses. In a field that's barely been explored, qualitative accounts can challenge preconceptions and reveal new information. What we need, the paper suggests, is new and more nuanced ways of understanding the subjective psychedelic experience.

To add to that understanding, researchers interviewed 13 adults aged 22 to 69 who participated in a previous NYU study which served as a phase II clinical trial for psilocybin-assisted therapy. They all had anxiety related to a cancer diagnosis at the start of the trial, and received a moderate dose of psilocybin in conjunction with psychotherapy sessions. More than half had never taken psychedelics before.

The earlier study showed impressive and enduring benefits, with both anxiety and depression decreasing dramatically. For the qualitative follow-up, researchers conducted semi-structured interviews, asking participants to talk about the before, during, and after of their experience. They didn't specifically ask people about their relationships, but everyone said the treatment resulted in them seeing their loved ones in a new way. Researchers coded and compiled their responses, finding those broad themes of emotional catharsis and improved relationships.

"I felt like I let go of a lot of anger and resentment towards my parents," one participant said. "I mean, I thought I had already done that, but I really hadn't, and I kind of saw them more as, like, these flawed human beings who did the best they could." Another described seeing his daughters in a new light: "Bit by bit, my daughters were turning into these radiant beings, cleansed of all these fears. It was incredibly emotional, because it was something I have, as their father, long known, but it's a very great pain when you see your children being victimized by fears … to see these beautiful beings not realizing their essence."

Others said the treatment helped them shift their priorities. One person said: "We forget what's really important; we get carried away with work and making our money and paying our bills, and this is just not what life is about."

But not everything was sweetness and light. Many participants reported feeling challenged by their experience—nine out of 13 described losing their sense of self. (Another not uncommon occurrence.) They felt disorientingly unmoored from themselves before passing through self-doubt into a greater understanding and acceptance of themselves, a process the researchers suggest may be a necessary part of the experience.

Again, so far, so familiar. But while the study may read like a collection of typical (if affecting) trip reports, understanding how psychedelics work on the individual mind may prove as important as measuring their outward effects. Psychedelic therapy is an emerging field, and studies like this push forward the frontier.

https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/zmma3y/psychedelics-help-cancer-patients-let-go-of-distress


 
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Aldous and Laura Huxley


Aldous Huxley’s deathbed experiment - Letter from his wife


December 8, 1963

Dearest Julian and Juliette:

There is so much I want to tell you about the last week of Aldous’ life and particularly the last day. What happened is important not only for us close and loving but it is almost a conclusion, better, a continuation of his own work, and therefore it has importance for people in general.

First of all, I must confirm to you with complete subjective certainty that Aldous had not consciously looked at the fact that he might die until the day he died. Subconsciously it was all there, and you will be able to see this for yourselves because beginning from November 15th until November 22nd I have much of Aldous’ remarks on tape, For these tapes I know we shall all be immensely grateful. Aldous was never quite willing to give up his writing and dictate or makes notes on a recorder. He used a Dictograph, only to read poetry or passages of literature; he would listen to these in his quiet moments in the evening as he was going to sleep. I have had a tape recorder for years, and I tried to use it with him sometimes, but it was too bulky, and particularly now when we were always in the bedroom, and the bed had so much hospital equipment around it. (We had spoken about buying a small one, but the market here is flooded with transistor tape recorders, and most of them are very bad. I didn’t have time to look into it, and this remained just one of those things like many others that we were going to do.) At the beginning of November, when Aldous was in the hospital, my birthday occurred, so Jinny looked carefully into all the machines, and presented me with the best of them – a small thing, easily manageable and practically unnoticeable. After having practiced with it myself a few days, I showed it to Aldous, who was very pleased with it, and from the 15th on we used it a little every day recording his dreams and notes for future writing.

The period from the 15th to the 22nd marked, it seems to me, a period of intense mental activity for Aldous. We had diminished little by little the tranquilizers he had been taking four times a day a drug called Sperine which is akin, I understand, to Thorazine. We diminished it practically to nothing only used painkillers like Percodan a little Amitol and something for nausea. He also took a few injections of 1/2 cc of Dilaudid, which is a derivative of morphine, and which gave him many dreams, some of which you will hear on the tape. The doctor says this is a small intake of morphine.

Now to pick up my point again, in these dreams as well as sometimes in his conversation, it seemed obvious and transparent that subconsciously he knew that he was going to die. But not once consciously did he speak of it. This had nothing to do with the idea that some of his friends put forward that he wanted to spare me. It wasn’t this because Aldous had never been able to play a part, to say a single lie; he was constitutionally unable to lie, and if he wanted to spare me, he could certainly have spoken to Jinny.

During the last two months I gave him almost daily an opportunity, an opening for speaking about death, but of course, this opening was always one that could have been taken in two ways – either towards life or towards death, and he always took it towards life. We read the entire manual of Dr. Leary extracted from The Book of the Dead. He could have, even jokingly said don’t forget to remind me. His comment instead was only directed to the way Dr. Leary conducted his LSD sessions, and how he would bring people, who were not dead, back here to this life after the session. It is true he sometimes said phrases like, “If I get out of this,” in connection to his new ideas for writing, and wondered when and if he would have the strength to work. His mind was very active, and it seems that this Dilaudid had stirred some new layer which had not often been stirred in him.

The night before he died, (Thursday night) about eight o’clock, suddenly an idea occurred to him. “Darling,” he said, “it just occurs to me that I am imposing on Jinny having somebody as sick like this in the house with the two children, this is really an imposition.” Jinny was out of the house at the moment, and so I said, “Good when she comes back I will tell her this. It will be a nice laugh.” “No,” he said with unusual insistence, “we should do something about it.” “Well,” I replied, keeping it light, “all right, get up. Let’s go on a trip.” “No”, he said, “It is serious. We must think about it. All these nurses in the house. What we could do, we could take an apartment for this period. Just for this period.” It was very clear what he meant. It was unmistakably clear. He thought he might be sick for another three or four weeks, and then he could come back and start his normal life again. This fact of starting his normal life occurred quite often. In the last three or four weeks, he was several times appalled by his weakness, when he realized how much he had lost, and how long it would take to be normal again. Now, this Thursday night he had remarked about taking an apartment with an unusual energy, but a few minutes later and all that evening I felt that he was going down, he was losing ground quickly. Eating was almost out of the question. He had just taken a few spoonsful of liquid and puree, in fact, every time that he took something, it would start a cough.

Thursday night I called Dr. Bernstein, and told him the pulse was very high – 140, he had a little bit of fever and whole feeling was one of immanence of death. But both the nurse and the doctor said they didn’t think this was the case, but that if I wanted him the doctor would come up to see him that night. Then I returned to Aldous’ room, and we decided to give him an injection of Dilaudid. It was about nine o’clock, and he went to sleep, and I told the doctor to come the next morning. Aldous slept until about two a.m., and then he got another shot, and I saw him again at six-thirty. Again I felt that life was leaving, something was more wrong than usual, although I didn’t know exactly what, and a little later I sent you and Matthew and Ellen and my sister a wire. Then about nine a.m. Aldous began to be so agitated, so uncomfortable, so desperate really. He wanted to be moved all the time. Nothing was right. Dr. Bernstein came about that time and decided to give him a shot which he had given him once before, something that you give intravenously, very slowly – it takes five minutes to give the shot, and it is a drug that dilates the bronchial tubes, so that respiration is easier.

This drug made him uncomfortable the time before, it must have been three Fridays before when he had that crisis, I wrote you about. But then it helped him. This time it was quite terrible. He couldn’t express himself but he was feeling dreadful, nothing was right, no position was right. I tried to ask him what was occurring. He had difficulty in speaking, but he managed to say, “Just trying to tell you makes it worse.” He wanted to be moved all the time – “Move me.” “Move my legs.” “Move my arms.” “Move my bed.” I had one of those push-button beds, which moved up and down both from the head and the feet, and incessantly, at times, I would have him go up and down, up and down by pushing buttons. We did this again, and somehow it seemed to give him a little relief, but it was very, very little.

All of a sudden, it must have been then ten o’clock, he could hardly speak, and he said he wanted a tablet to write on, and for the first time, he wrote – “If I die,” and gave a direction for his will. I knew what he meant. He had signed his will as I told you about a week before, and in this will there was a transfer of a life insurance policy from me to Matthew. We had spoken of getting these papers of transfer, which the insurance company had just sent, and that actually arrived special delivery just a few minutes before. Writing was very, very difficult for him. Rosalind and Dr. Bernstein were there also trying to understand what he wanted. I said to him, “Do you mean that you want to make sure that the life insurance is transferred from me to Matthew?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “The papers for the transfer have just arrived, if you want to sign them you can sign them, but it is not necessary because you already made it legal in your will." He heaved a sigh of relief in not having to sign. I had asked him the day before even, to sign some important papers, and he had said, “Let’s wait a little while,” this, by the way, was his way now, for him to say that he couldn’t do something. If he was asked to eat, he would say, “Let’s wait a little while,” and when I asked him to do some signing that was rather important on Thursday he said, “Let’s wait a little while” He wanted to write you a letter – “and especially about Juliette’s book, is lovely,” he had said several times. And when I proposed to do it, he would say, “Yes, just in a little while” in such a tired voice, so totally different from his normal way of being. So when I told him that the signing was not necessary and that all was in order, he had a sigh of relief.

“If I die.” This was the first time that he had said that with reference to NOW. He wrote it. I knew and felt that for the first time he was looking at this. About a half an hour before I had called up Sidney Cohen, a psychiatrist who has been one of the leaders in the use of LSD. I had asked him if he had ever given LSD to a man in this condition. He said he had only done it twice actually, and in one case it had brought up a sort of reconciliation with Death, and in the other case, it did not make any difference. I asked him if he would advise me to give it to Aldous in his condition. I told him how I had offered it several times during the last two months, but he always said that he would wait until he was better. Then Dr. Cohen said, “I don’t know. I don’t think so. What do you think?” I said, “I don’t know. Shall I offer it to him?” He said, “I would offer it to him in a very oblique way, just say ‘what do you think about taking LSD [sometime again]?’” This vague response had been common to the few workers in this field to whom I had asked, “Do you give LSD in extremes?” ISLAND is the only definite reference that I know of. I must have spoken to Sidney Cohen about nine-thirty.

Aldous’ condition had become so physically painful and obscure, and he was so agitated he couldn’t say what he wanted, and I couldn’t understand. At a certain point he said something which no one here has been able to explain to me, he said, “Who is eating out of my bowl?” And I didn’t know what this meant, and I yet don’t know. And I asked him. He managed a faint whimsical smile and said, “Oh, never mind, it is only a joke.” And later on, feeling my need to know a little so I could do something, he said agonizingly, “At this point, there is so little to share.” Then I knew that he knew that he was going. However, this inability to express himself was only muscular – his brain was clear and in fact, I feel, at a pitch of activity.

Then I don’t know exactly what time it was, he asked for his tablet and wrote, “Try LSD 100 intramuscular.” Although as you see from this photostatic copy it is not very clear, I know that this is what he meant. I asked him to confirm it. Suddenly something became very clear to me. I knew that we were together again after this torturous talking of the last two months. I knew then; I knew what was to be done. I went quickly into the cupboard in the other room where Dr. Bernstein was, and the TV, which had just announced the shooting of Kennedy. I took the LSD and said, “I am going to give him a shot of LSD, he asked for it.” The doctor had a moment of agitation because you know very well the uneasiness about this drug in the medical mind. Then he said, “All right, at this point what is the difference.” Whatever he had said, no “authority,” not even an army of authorities could have stopped me then. I went into Aldous’ room with the vial of LSD and prepared a syringe. The doctor asked me if I wanted him to give him the shot – maybe because he saw that my hands were trembling. His asking me that made me conscious of my hands, and I said, “No I must do this.” I quieted myself, and when I gave him, the shot my hands were very firm. Then, somehow, a great relief came to us both.

I believe it was 11:20 when I gave him his first shot of 100 microgrammes. I sat near his bed, and I said, “Darling, maybe in a little while I will take it with you. Would you like me to take it also in a little while?” I said a little while because I had no idea of when I should or could take it, in fact, I have not been able to take it to this writing because of the condition around me. And he indicated “Yes.” We must keep in mind that by now he was speaking very, very little. Then I said, “Would you like Matthew to take it with you also? And he said, “Yes.” “What about Ellen?” He said, “Yes.” Then I mentioned two or three people who had been working with LSD, and he said, “No, no, basta, basta.” Then I said, “What about Jinny?” And he said, “Yes,” with emphasis. Then we were quiet. I just sat there without speaking for a while. Aldous was not so agitated physically. He seemed – somehow I felt he knew, we both knew what we were doing, and this has always been a great relief to Aldous. I have seen him at times during his illness very upset until he knew what he was going to do, then even if it were an operation or X-ray, he would make a total change. This enormous feeling of relief would come to him, and he wouldn’t be worried at all about it, he would say let’s do it, and we would go to it, and he was like a liberated man. And now I had the same feeling – a decision had been made, he made the decision again very quickly. Suddenly he had accepted the fact of death; he had taken this moksha medicine in which he believed. He was doing what he had written in ISLAND, and I had the feeling that he was interested and relieved and quiet.

After half an hour, the expression on his face began to change a little, and I asked him if he felt the effect of LSD, and he indicated no. I think that something had taken place already. This was one of Aldous’ characteristics. He would always delay acknowledging the effect of any medicine; even when the effect was quite certainly there, unless the effect was very, very strong, he would say no. Now, the expression of his face was beginning to look as it did every time that he had the moksha-medicine when this immense expression of complete bliss and love would come over him. This was not the case now, but there was a change in comparison to what his face had been two hours ago. I let another half-hour pass, and then I decided to give him another 100 mg. I told him I was going to do it, and he acquiesced. I gave him another shot, and then I began to talk to him. He was very quiet now; he was very quiet, and his legs were getting colder; higher and higher I could see purple areas of cyanosis.

Then I began to talk to him, saying, “Light and free,” Some of these thing I told him at night in these last few weeks before he would go to sleep, and now I said it more convincingly, more intensely – “go, go, let go, darling; forward and up. You are going forward and up; you are going towards the light. Willing and consciously you are going, willingly and consciously, and you are doing this beautifully; you are doing this so beautifully – you are going towards the light; you are going towards a greater love; you are going forward and up. It is so easy; it is so beautiful. You are doing it so beautifully, so easily. Light and free. Forward and up. You are going towards Maria’s love with my love. You are going towards a greater love than you have ever known. You are going towards the best, the greatest love, and it is easy, it is so easy, and you are doing it so beautifully.” I believe I started to talk to him – it must have been about one or two o’clock. It was very difficult for me to keep track of time. The nurse was in the room and Rosalind and Jinny and two doctors – Dr. Knight and Dr. Cutler. They were sort of far away from the bed. I was very, very near his ears, and I hope I spoke clearly and understandingly. Once I asked him, “Do you hear me?” He squeezed my hand. He was hearing me. I was tempted to ask more questions, but in the morning he had begged me not to ask any more question, and the entire feeling was that things were right. I didn’t dare to inquire, to disturb, and that was the only question that I asked, “Do you hear me?” Maybe I should have asked more questions, but I didn’t.

Later on, I asked the same question, but the hand didn’t move anymore. Now from two o’clock until the time he died, which was five-twenty, there was complete peace except for once. That must have been about three-thirty or four when I saw the beginning of the struggle in his lower lip. His lower lip began to move as if it were going to be a struggle for air. Then I gave the direction even more forcefully. “It is easy, and you are doing this beautifully and willingly and consciously, in full awareness, in full awareness, darling, you are going towards the light,” I repeated these or similar words for the last three or four hours. Once in a while, my own emotion would overcome me, but if it did, I immediately would leave the bed for two or three minutes and would come back only when I could dismiss my emotion. The twitching of the lower lip lasted only a little bit, and it seemed to respond completely to what I was saying. “Easy, easy, and you are doing this willingly and consciously and beautifully – going forward and up, light and free, forward and up towards the light, into the light, into complete love.” The twitching stopped, the breathing became slower and slower, and there was absolutely not the slightest indication of contraction, of struggle. It was just that the breathing became slower – and slower – and slower, and at five-twenty, the breathing stopped.

I had been warned in the morning that there might be some up-setting convulsions towards the end, or some sort of contraction of the lungs, and noises. People had been trying to prepare me for some horrible physical reaction that would probably occur. None of this happened the ceasing of the breathing was not a drama at all because it was done so slowly, so gently, like a piece of music just finishing in a sempre piu piano dolcemente. I had the feeling actually that the last hour of breathing was only the conditioned reflex of the body that had been used to doing this for 69 years, millions and millions of times. There was not the feeling that with the last breath, the spirit left. It had just been gently leaving for the last four hours. In the room the last four hours were two doctors, Jinny, the nurse, Rosalind Roger Gopal – you know she is the great friend of Krishnamurti and the directress of the school in Ojai for which Aldous did so much. They didn’t seem to hear what I was saying. I thought I was speaking loud enough, but they said they didn’t hear it. Rosalind and Jinny once in a while came near the bed and held Aldous’ hand. These five people all said that this was the most serene, the most beautiful death. Both doctors and nurse said they had never seen a person in similar physical condition going off so completely without pain and without struggle.

We will never know if all this is only our wishful thinking, or if it is real, but certainly all outward signs and the inner feeling indicated that it was beautiful and peaceful and easy.

And now, after I have been alone these few days, and less bombarded by other people’s feelings, the meaning of this last day becomes clearer and clearer to me and more and more important. Aldous was, I think (and certainly I am) appalled at the fact that what he wrote in ISLAND was not taken seriously. It was treated as a work of science fiction when it was not fiction because each one of the ways of living he described in ISLAND was not a product of his fantasy, but something that had been tried in one place or another and some of them in our own everyday life. If the way Aldous died were known, it might awaken people to the awareness that not only this but many other facts described in ISLAND are possible here and now. Aldous asking for moksha medicine while dying is a confirmation of his work, and as such is of importance not only to us but to the world. It is true we will have some people saying that he was a drug addict all his life and that he ended as one, but it is history that Huxleys stop ignorance before ignorance can stop Huxleys.

Even after our correspondence on the subject, I had many doubts about keeping Aldous in the dark regarding his condition. It seemed not just that, after all, he had written and spoken about death, he should be let to go into it unaware. And he had such complete confidence in me – he might have taken it for granted that had death been near I certainly would have told him and helped him. So my relief at his sudden awakening at his quick adjusting is immense. Don’t you feel this also?

Now, is his way of dying to remain our, and only our relief and consolation, or should others also benefit from it? What do you feel?
 
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mr peabody

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In 1965, Gloria, a woman in her early forties, developed breast cancer. She had undergone a radical mastectomy; subsequent surgery revealed inoperable metastases of the liver. Although still ambulatory, she was in severe physical and emotional distress. She was fully aware of her condition and her prognosis and shared her feelings of despair with staff members. After discussions with her husband, a course of psychedelic therapy was initiated. The outcome of this experiment was quite remarkable: A single LSD experience seemed to change the quality of Gloria's remaining days. Shortly after the LSD session she completed the following report:

''The day prior to LSD, I was fearful and anxious. I would at that point have gratefully withdrawn. By the end of the preparatory session practically all anxiety was gone; the instructions were understood and the procedure clear. The night was spent quietly at home; close friends visited and we looked at photograph albums and remembered happy family times. Sleep was deep and peaceful. I awakened refreshed, and with practically no fear. I felt ready and eager. The morning was lovely, cool and with a freshness in the air. I arrived at the LSD building with the therapist. Members of the department were around to wish me well. It was a good feeling."

"In the treatment room was a beautiful rosebud, deep red and dewy. A bowl of fruit, moist, succulent, also reposed on the table. I was immediately given the first dose and sat looking at pictures from my family album. Gradually, my movements became fuzzy and I felt awkward. I was made to recline with earphones and eyeshades. At some point the second LSD dose was given to me. This phase was generally associated with impatience. I had been given instructions lest there be pain, fear, or other difficulties. I was ready to try out my ability to face the unknown ahead of me and to triumph over my obstacles. I was ready, but except for the physical sensations of awkwardness and some drowsiness nothing was happening."

"At about this time, it seems, I fused with the music and was transported on it. So completely was I one with the sound that when the particular melody or record stopped, however momentarily, I was alive to the pause, eagerly awaiting the next lap of the journey. A delightful game was being played. What was coming next? Would it be powerful, tender, dancing, or somber? I felt at these times as though I were being teased, but so nicely, so gently. I wanted to laugh in sheer appreciation of these responses, regardless of where I had just been, how sad or awed. And as soon as the music began, I was off again. Nor do I remember all the explorations."

"Mainly I remember two experiences. I was alone in a timeless world with no boundaries. There was no atmosphere; there was no color, no imagery, but there may have been light. Suddenly I recognized that I was a moment in time, created by those before me and in turn the creator of others. This was my moment, and my major function had been completed. By being born, I had given meaning to my parents' existence."

"Again in the void, alone without the time-space boundaries. Life reduced itself over and over again to the least common denominator. I cannot remember the logic of the experience, but I became poignantly aware that the core of life is love. At this moment I felt that I was reaching out to the world--to all people--but especially to those closest to me. I wept long for the wasted years, the search for identity in false places, the neglected opportunities, the emotional energy lost in basically meaningless pursuits."

"Many times, after respites, I went back, but always to variations on the same themes. The music carried and sustained me. Occasionally, during rests, I was aware of the smell of peaches. The rose was nothing to the fruit. The fruit was nectar and ambrosia (life); the rose was only a beautiful flower. When I finally was given a nectarine it was the epitome of subtle, succulent flavor."

"As I began to emerge, I was taken to a fresh, windswept world. Members of the department welcomed me and I felt not only joy for myself, but for having been able to use the experience these people who cared for me wanted me to have. I felt very close to a large group of people. Later, as members of my family came, there was a closeness that seemed new. That night, at home, my parents came, too. All noticed a change in me. I was radiant, and I seemed at peace, they said. I felt that way too. What has changed for me? I am living now, and being. I can take it as it comes. Some of my physical symptoms are gone. The excessive fatigue, some of the pains. I still get irritated occasionally and yell. I am still me, but more at peace. My family senses this and we are closer. All who know me well say that this has been a good experience."


Five weeks after the session Gloria was suddenly hospitalized; she died quietly three days later.

http://www.psychedelic-library.org/dying.htm
 
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mr peabody

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The Power of DMT and my experience of the afterlife

I'm not a drug taker, or drinker for that matter. I had heard of DMT but it wasn’t until I was ready did DMT find me. I only took it a handful of times and this experience I am sharing here with you was the final one, the one that gave me the answers. After this experience my life changed completely, my questions had answers and I no longer needed DMT…

My final experience was reality shattering, ego destroying and fear eliminating. What you may witness if you break through is a peak into the after-life. If you push all the way through, you might not only see the after-life, but you may also understand the how and whys (including where do we come from and why we are here).

That sounds hard to believe I know. Governments have known about DMT for decades and have banned it. Answer me this; how can a chemical that we ALL produce each and every night be illegal? The problem they face with DMT is that it is life changing.

Once you’ve broken through and come back, you see the World for what is truly is and your role within it. No longer are there any controls, fears, labels, separation.

A person, devoid of the DMT experience, will never understand the sheer scale of what has been witnessed by the person taking it. It is easy to postulate that what was witnessed was what the mind created. I know it is impossible for any mind, on any type of level, to create what is shown. It's a non-human reality where my own mind was just a bystander, an observer, to layers and layers of simultaneous impossibilities all interwoven to create the fabric of existence on many different levels and dimensions at the same time.

The problem for the person taking DMT is that there are no words in any language to accurately describe much of what was seen.

How do I know it isn’t just a psychedelic drug?

Even on a good experience you’ll be lucky to bring back 10% of what you saw. This is because our matter-based reality is too condensed (squashed) to be able to understand the complexity of creation. Up there it is incredibly easy to understand everything and you get all the answers. You’ll come back remembering the emotions of having these big questions answered, you may even see the answers still in your mind, but there is simply no way of conveying most of them.

With DMT you are in complete control of your faculties the whole way through. At no stage do you feel you are “tripping”. You are fully awake and aware that you’ve just been hurled through our spec of reality into the immense “place” behind this reality. You move into a World outside of time and outside of any boundaries your mind can deal with or create.

How do you describe the indescribable? How do you explain the impossible? The experience-teller is so limited by words that often what was seen cannot be said. With DMT it is the world that is replaced, instantly, it’s all gone! Reality is completely swapped out for something else vastly greater. It doesn’t even retain organic matter, 3-dimensional space or linear time as reference points.

I have seen what many would describe as an angel, but the moment I say that, people conjure up images of winged humans. That is infinitely understating what “it” is. This “angel” is not solid, the outline can barely be seen. Her brightness, yet super-sharp clarity, cannot ever be justly described. Her touch made every single last atom in my body below and my soul up there explode in the most intense joy and happiness.

The light-energy surrounding us changed when my soul realized who it was and she smiled. On this final DMT journey I was taken to where they/we come from, our life-between-life. There are no words to describe what this place is because it sits outside of words. It is the energy of everything that creates it, the higher level feelings that control it. Simply describing it isn’t enough because you need to also experience the energy, emotion and harmony to fully understand how it works.

No longer does fear play a part in your life. Controls? Gone. Ego? Gone. It is life-changing, indescribable, and the most intense experience you will ever have on this planet.

DMT is NOT a party drug, and it should not be used if you just fancy something different. If you think you are strong enough to handle an experience that will completely change your life, then and only then would I advise it. If you are not ready you may experience a bad trip. My advice is to let DMT find you because it will once you’re truly ready.

The clarity is something so incredible that I have not seen any image of a DMT experience being close to what you see once broken through. The reason is it cannot be drawn. I have however found one image that may give you a tiny idea of the scale of clarity.

This is an image of a sunflower as we see it and a sunflower as you may see it on DMT…



What I’m trying to show is that what you see isn’t “man, that’s trippy” but more like “how can everything have a clarity so far beyond what we can see!” The picture isn’t an exact visual,
but it’s heading in the right direction.

Is it dangerous?

Only if you fear death by astonishment (thank you Terence!) You don’t change but the World is instantly replaced, it dissolves this boundary and pushes you through to a place of few words. You don’t expect to be greeted by a being who tells you how vitally important it is that you are there and not to give in to astonishment. You don’t expect to have the most difficult asked questions answered. The questions are not only answered but completely understood.

The problem is our language cannot express what the afterlife is. You can see and feel the answers, but you can’t come back and DESCRIBE the answers well enough to do them justice.

My DMT Experience

On this occasion I took a big hit because I wanted to push through the veil we are trapped in to discover what is on the other side.

Initially I saw the usual geometric shapes but this time I felt a much greater pull as my soul pushed hard to leave my body suit. There was so much pressure against my body it felt like I could hardly breathe but as I lifted out everything changed!

All emotion had gone except for peace. Everything that seemed to matter in life now felt meaningless and laughable. I felt as if I had woken from a dream. I had moved from this tiny little sliver of reality back home to the full expanse of our true reality.

How difficult it is to describe that we are the universe observing itself, how difficult for many to believe that we are all connected, we are all one with all things. We are each an infinite flow of energy that can slow down its pulse or vibration enough to experience the universe through ourselves via these body-suits.

I felt my soul leave my body, lifting upwards towards the geometric shapes in front of me. As I was almost on top of them a sort of gateway opened up and these geometric shapes seeped through into the next dimension, our home. It was truly the most incredible thing I have ever seen!

The meeting of the entity

The first thing I noticed was that time had stopped. I immediately became aware that I was now in a place where time and distance no longer had any meaning.

Emotionally all I could feel was a kind of love and peace but more advanced, more powerful. There were no negative emotions here. It was like being inside a blanket of calm.

I was now in the same location but in the afterlife—pure energy and frequency, all things connected to each other in a way I cannot put into words. Visually I could see, and not see, the connections both at the same time which I know makes no sense at all.

I was still trapped in the geometric grid as it followed me through and I saw a transparent, blue glowing hand reach down in front of me. I looked up and saw the most beautiful, incredible entity. My soul and body below literally wept as this being smiled at me. This being was so bright and translucent that I could barely make out any features.

I could see through this being and yet her glow was magnificent! Her touch made every atom inside me come alive, both soul and my body suit below. It was as if my entire existence was dancing with joy and love that smothered everything.

My soul instantly knew that I had been connected to this being for aeons, she was the one who stayed there for each of my lives to assist me when needed. My Brain couldn’t understand how this could be so but my soul was dancing with immense joy to see her again.

She took my hand and guided me up. The geometric shapes restricting me fell behind but I still had some kind of barrier, like a coral, in front of me. I asked what it was for and she said that I was always welcome here, but for their and my true-self’s safety I was to be an observer and I wasn’t allowed too near, or to access the places I use between lives.

I could see other beings like her but further away moving about in this place. It was light but in a way that is hard to explain. The energy/emotion of everything created the light. There was no real distance, and it felt like I could be in all places at all times.

Still holding my hand she led me to near where they/we come from. Inside this energy building (the word ‘building’ does it no justice at all) I could feel ‘my’ presence. I am a fragment of this whole, experiencing a matter-based existence through myself. I no longer felt alone in this place—I was this place, a part of the whole.

Our material existence is an illusion, but one which we've created. It is not possible for our matter-based brains to comprehend this place when we are living in our bodies. In our real home, all the answers are found. All questions become clear because we already knew them, I just needed to remember that I knew them.

When I say answers it wasn’t one after another, it was thousands of answers all at the same time flowing through my soul. My brain could not keep up with even a tiny fraction but my soul was absorbing it all, glowing with joy as the energy of the answers flowed through it.

I knew where we come from, I understood how it works, why we don’t remember, what happens before we are born and what happens after we die. I was looking at the energy force I knew so well because this is where it all happens—where I’ve come from and gone many, many times.

As questions came into my head they were answered before I finished the question. Everything was SO clear and easy to understand. I was laughing at myself because my brain was trying to rationalize the impossible so in the end it gave up and just went from astonishment to amazement as the answers flew through my soul.

I started moving away from this place and my very old friend released me and smiled the warmest of smiles because we both knew it was time to go back. The way back was slow and in my mind I was desperate to retain the knowledge I had discovered. She knew what I was thinking before I finished thinking it and told me it was not possible to take with me what I found there because everything has to be condensed (squashed?) down so much that it is not possible to retain it on matter-based dimensions. My soul can, my brain can’t. She also pointed out that I already knew and I would know again. “Your mind will remember the feelings and emotions you had as the answers came to you.” she said warmly.

---

I didn’t find DMT. It found me... when I was ready. The few people I have spoken to about it said exactly the same thing. It is absolutely not a play-thing for your mind. It rips apart the very foundations of beliefs and can… no, probably will, change every aspect of your life.

Final thought..

Life on earth has changed for me completely. I care much more about living things. None of the troubles in this life amount to anything. When we are reborn we bring with us some of the emotion and experiences of other lives but they are locked in the soul and hidden from the consciousness mind. This “data” isn’t in the mind, it’s in atoms spread across time and space. Everything is connected and so is the data.

Some more for you to ponder…

We join these bodies during pregnancy at around the 3 month mark but during the pregnancy, and for a few months after birth we tend to leave the body quite often. We are here and there at the same time. My soul in this body is simply a piece of the whole. The remainder on the other side cannot participate in much else because it is focused on what’s happening here.

Seventy years may seem like a long time here, but there it ends almost as quickly as it starts.

We do choose our parents (we each have a goal we need to reach when we come into this life) and we base our choice on which parents would help us towards that “goal.” There could be a couple of options for parents or several. We tend to choose the ones that would help us with the “goal” rather than the ones who may be the best parents to raise us.

Whatever this goal is your life will keep steering you towards it until you have either accomplished it or you pass away before you could achieve it. If your life is forever taken down the same path then there is a high likelihood that something on this repeating path is the one you need to learn.

There is no hell or damnation. If you commit suicide you will come back and repeat the same experience again and again, life after life until you reach your goal, through choice and not force. You cannot progress if you don’t reach your goal, so you will want to keep going at it until you succeed.

Humanity tends to think that being rich or successful are the things to strive for but it is those who reach their goals that find real success, because whatever hardship was faced in this life won’t need to be faced again.

We think of suffering as a bad thing, but 70 years is just a heartbeat in the grand scheme of things. The body may suffer but the soul is simply experiencing it and cannot be harmed.

There could be one to five people in your life who have been connected to you many times before. It appears to me that there may be a small core group who can come in together to help each other, planned before we enter this World again. Personally I have discovered two in my life that are in this category.

At the moment of death there will be no fear and no doubt. You will start to wake up from this dream hidden from humanity…

http://hiddenfromhumanity.com/though...the-afterlife/
 
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mr peabody

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How psychedelics are helping cancer patients fend off despair

Researchers are giving psychedelics to cancer patients to help alleviate their despair — and it’s working.

On a bone-chilling morning in February last year, Nick Fernandez bundled up and took the subway from his Manhattan apartment to the Bluestone Center for Clinical Research, which is located in an art deco-style building on the Lower East Side. A 27-year-old graduate student in psychology with dark, wavy hair and delicate, bird-like features, Fernandez was excited and nervous. He had eaten a light breakfast consisting of a bagel and industrial-strength coffee in preparation for another journey he was about to take. Fernandez had signed up to be a subject in a New York University study into the use of psilocybin to relieve mental anguish in people with terminal or recurrent cancer.

Fernandez hoped that the drug would lift the shroud of melancholy and free-floating anxiety that had enveloped him ever since he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2004 during his senior year in high school. Two and a half years of almost continuous chemotherapy vanquished the disease, but left him drained and traumatized. The former soccer star dropped more than 50 lbs from an already lean frame. ‘It was pretty brutal and forces you to grow up fast,’ said Fernandez, who became intensely interested in spiritual philosophy during this period, and went on to dabble in psychedelics in college. For years afterward, every sneeze and sniffle, every day that he felt tired or out of sorts, filled him with an unshakeable dread that the cancer had returned. When he heard the study mentioned on a radio show, he immediately signed up.

Jeffrey Guss and Erin Zerbo, the two NYU psychiatrists who would quietly monitor Fernandez’s progress throughout the day, greeted him when he arrived. After they took his vital signs, Fernandez changed into sweat pants and a shirt, and settled into a converted dental exam room that had been transformed into a hippie-style sanctum: tricked out with fresh flowers and fruits, a comfy sofa littered with plush pillows, Buddhist and shamanistic totems, and a high-tech sound system. Stephen Ross, an associate professor of psychiatry at NYU and the lead investigator for the study, made a brief appearance in the trip room. He was holding a glass vial that had been retrieved earlier that morning from a massive safe located inside a high-security storage room. It contained a single white capsule, and no one could be sure if it was a placebo – a dummy pill – or a 30 milligram dose of synthesized psilocybin.

‘Good luck,’ Ross said, handing Fernandez the pill, which he washed down with water that he drank from a large antique chalice. Then he slipped on the headphones, put on a face mask to block out the light, lay down on the couch and waited.

About an hour later, as the drug began to take effect, the blackness inside his head turned into an onrushing cascade of white dots that swiftly morphed into a kaleidoscope of geometric patterns – gears, stars, triangles, trapezoids – in all the colours of the rainbow. He started to hear an insistent voice in his head, telling him over and over: ‘I’m going to show you what I can do.’ Fernandez slowly suspended his skepticism and reluctantly surrendered to the experience. What he perceived to be his spirit guide took him on a Marley’s ghost-style journey, with stops at his own funeral, a hellish place littered with skulls that smelled of death where he was in excruciating pain. Once his agony reached an almost unbearable crescendo, his spirit guide catapulted him through hundreds of light years of space, allowing him to escape the pain. ‘I went into this mystical state, and this intense visual palate took over my mind,’ Fernandez said.

He suddenly found himself in Grand Central Terminal, which was filled with hundreds of people he knew dressed in tuxedos and ball gowns, dancing happily to symphonic music. He spied his girlfriend, Claire, across the dance floor. They walked towards each other and embraced, which filled him with intense feelings of bliss and joy. Soon he was again catapulted, down into the sewers of the city, and then to the top of the Empire State Building where he serenely surveyed the city just as dawn broke its rosy glow over the skyscrapers. The spirit guide took him from there to a cave in the forest where he went shopping for another body, but the only body to be had was his own. This realization gave Fernandez a new appreciation of his body, and all it had been through: the workouts, the swims, the bike rides, the sickness when the cancer cells had taken over, and the chemotherapy drugs that had destroyed them. ‘For the first time in my life, I felt like there was a creator of the universe, a force greater than myself, and that I should be kind and loving,’ he said. ‘Something inside me snapped and I experienced a profound psychic shift that made me realise all my anxieties, defenses and insecurities weren’t something to worry about.’

The insights gleaned under the influence of psilocybin often lead to lasting changes because participants seem to experience spiritual awakenings and substantial shifts in their perceptions of the world. When Gina Baker (not her real name) underwent a psilocybin session, like Nick Fernandez, at NYU in October 2012, she was riddled with constant worries that her ovarian cancer would return. The anxiety, along with her tough childhood, had caused her to lose control of her emotional eating, but during her psychedelic session, she was able to get past both. ‘I spent my entire life feeling like an outsider and that the world was a hostile place,’ said the 67-year-old Brooklyn native. ‘But under the influence of the drug, I saw my fear as a big black mass and I felt like I was going to be eaten alive. And then suddenly, the fear just disappeared and I felt enveloped in intense love, more deep and profound than I have ever felt, and not just for my family and dear friends but I felt at one with the universe. It was a moment of complete peace and lack of self consciousness.’ These changes in her perceptions endured. ‘It liberated me from my anxieties, I stopped overeating, and I even made a whole new group of friends in my neighborhood, something I never would have done before,’ she said. ‘It was a transformative experience.’

‘When people are diagnosed with cancer, their lives can become constricted. They sometimes cope with terror and sadness by shutting down – they start to die before they actually do die,’ said Guss. ‘But with psychedelics, there is a flood of information, making people feel less like shutting down and more awake and alive.’

https://aeon.co/essays/how-psychedelics-are-helping-cancer-patients-fend-off-despair



Ann and Alexander Shulgin
 
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mr peabody

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LSD, psilocybin and depression: Lasting effects

The NYU study used a therapeutic approach and clinical setting similar to the one used in the JHU study, the main difference being the use of niacin (vitamin B3) as placebo instead of low-dose psilocybin.

The study documented dramatic symptom reductions, with large effect sizes comparable to the JHU study, and efficacy sustained for 6 months after treatment.

The authors gave a single moderate psilocybin dose along with psychotherapy to patients with life-threatening cancer and saw acute and sustained anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects. Here, too, they said, the intensity of the mystical experience correlated with clinical benefit, including improved attitudes toward disease progression and death, improved quality of life, and increased spiritual well being.

In a 2014 study, P Gasser and colleagues used LSD-assisted therapy in 12 patients with anxiety related to being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. Positive trends lasted for 12 months after treatment.

In 2015, Gasser and colleagues followed up the same participants 12 months later to examine long-term effects on anxiety and explore experiences and lasting psychological effects. Nine of the original subjects participated.

In semi-structured interviews, seven of nine participants reported a sustained reduction in anxiety. None reported lasting negative effects. The authors concluded that LSD-assisted psychotherapy in patients with a life-threatening illness showed safety and positive stable treatment outcomes at long-term follow-up.

http://cherylpellerinscience.com/pro...ty-depression/
 
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mr peabody

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LSD research makes biggest headway in 40 years

Clinical trials reveal the therapeutic effects of psychedelics on those nearing death.

Now that the fall-out of from the ‘60s has settled, scientists are taking a serious, second look at LSD. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease just reported that Swiss psychiatrist Peter Gasser used LSD to successfully assuage the end of life anxiety for 12 individuals who were approaching death. British psychiatrist David Nutt applauds the re-entry of LSD and psychedelics into the medical community, saying that their ban is “the worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo.”

Simply put, according to researcher Stanislav Grof, LSD is an incredible accelerator of mental treatment for those with addiction or depression. Grof was one of the earliest researchers of the LSD’s benefits in the ‘50s. He told NPR that the drug’s efficacy was “was quite extraordinary…there was a tremendous deepening and acceleration of the psychotherapeutic process; and compared with the therapy in general, which mostly focuses on suppression of symptoms, here we had something that could actually get to the core of the problems.”

Those nearing death often experience a surge of what are called “the top five regrets of the dying,” and implementing LSD could help open up a positive, pointed discussion about those fears.

http://blog.sevenponds.com/something...ay-in-40-years

• • •

Psychedelics easing anxiety and depression in people with cancer

"I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009," says Erica Rex. "I went through chemotherapy, and some of those drugs have terrible side effects."

Those side effects can include depression, which Rex experienced. She became obsessed with the possibility of her death, and it was crippling. Then Rex found she might qualify for a study on the experimental drug psilocybin, an active compound in psychedelic mushrooms.

To determine her eligibility, Rex took a series of lab tests, spent days at the hospital and went through an intense psychological workup with some probing questions. But in the end she was approved for the study. She was given two doses of the psychedelic in two separate sessions, with trained guides sitting with her as the drugs took effect.

The session began in a windowless room, with Rex wearing eye shades and headphones with music. She experienced moments of laughter, memories of the past and emotional highs and lows. But it was not, Rex says, like a dream.

"People describe it as a dream, but it's not — it is actual," she says. "It is all entirely real."

Once the session was over, Rex says, she spent time writing up everything that she remembered. And in the end, she says, it helped her depression.

"I'm much better," she says. "I am able to plan; I don't sit around obsessing about what the future may hold nearly as much."

https://www.npr.org/2014/03/09/28828...trip-continues


 
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mr peabody

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'Reluctant psychonaut' Michael Pollan embraces the 'new science' of psychedelics

Author Michael Pollan had always been curious about psychoactive plants, but his interest skyrocketed when he heard about a research study in which people with terminal cancer
were given a psychedelic called psilocybin — the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms" — to help them deal with their distress.

"This seemed like such a crazy idea that I began looking into it," Pollan says. "Why should a drug from a mushroom help people deal with their mortality?"

Pollan started researching different experimental therapeutic uses of psychedelics, and found that the drugs were being used to treat depression, addiction and the fear of death.

Then he decided to go one step further: A self-described "reluctant psychonaut," Pollan enlisted guides to help him experiment with LSD, psilocybin and 5-MeO-DMT.

Each of Pollan's experiences with psychedelics was preceded by worry and self-doubt. "I realized later that was my ego trying to convince me not to do this thing that was going to challenge my ego," he says.

Pollan's new book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, recounts his experiences with the drugs and also examines the history of psychedelics as well as their possible therapeutic uses.

The way psilocybin is being used is in a very controlled or guided setting... They don't just give you a pill and send you home; you're in a room. You're with two guides, one male, one female. You're lying down on a comfortable couch. You're wearing headphones listening to a really carefully curated playlist of music, instrumental compositions for the most part, and you're wearing eyeshades, all of which is to encourage a very inward journey.

Someone is kind of looking out for you, and they prepare you very carefully in advance. They give you a set of "flight instructions," as they call them, which is what to do if you get really scared or you're beginning to have a bad trip. If you see a monster, for example, don't try to run away. Walk right up to it, plant your feet and say, "What do you have to teach me? What are you doing in my mind?" And if you do that, according to the flight instructions, your fear will morph into something much more positive very quickly.

The drugs foster new perspectives on old problems. One of the things our mind does is tell stories about ourselves. If you're depressed, you're being told a story perhaps that you're worthless, that no one could possibly love you, you're not worthy of love, that life will not get better. And these stories — which are enforced by our egos really — trap us in these ruminative loops that are very hard to get out of. They're very destructive patterns of thought.

What the drugs appear to do is disable for a period of time the part of the brain where the self talks to itself. It's called the default mode network, and it's a group of structures that connect parts of the cortex — the evolutionarily most recent part of the brain — to deeper levels where emotion and memory reside. And it's a very important hub in the brain and lots of important things happen there: self-reflection and rumination, time travel. It's where we go to think about the future or the past, and theory of mind, the ability to imagine the mental states of other beings and, I think, most importantly, the autobiographical self. It's the part of the brain, it appears, where we incorporate things that happen to us, new information, with a sense of who we are, who we were and who we want to be. And that's where these stories get generated. And these stories can be really destructive, they trap us...

This network is downregulated with psychedelics, it sort of goes offline for a period of time. And that's why you experience this dissolution of self or ego, which can be a terrifying or liberating thing, depending on your mindset. This is what allows people, I think, to have those new perspectives on themselves, to realize that they needn't be trapped in those stories and they might actually be able to write some new stories about themselves. That's what's liberating, I think, about the experience when it works.

---

For years, the field of mental health has been largely barren of meaningful treatment advances. But now, scientists have new hope. Recent research suggests that psychedelics can help relieve anxiety, depression and the fear surrounding a terminal diagnosis. In the interview below, Michael Pollan talks with TIME about their therapeutic promise.

What do psychedelics do to the human mind?

Psychedelics appear to diminish activity in one very important brain network called the Default Mode Network, which is very involved with operations having to do with our sense of self, with how we integrate what’s happening to us in any given moment, with our abiding sense of who we are.

The interesting thing about psychedelics is that they take this network offline. When that happens, you have this sensation of ego-dissolution, and that seems to lead to new connections in the brain. Your emotion center starts talking directly to your visual cortex, let’s say, and you see things that you’re hoping or fearing. New connections are made that could produce new insights, new perspectives, new ways of looking at the world.

Your book talks a lot about the scientific approach to psychedelics. What do scientists believe that psychedelics can offer people?

The feeling among the scientists is that these chemicals allow us to essentially reboot the brain. If the brain is stuck in these narrow grooves of thought — whether it’s an obsession or a fear or the story you tell yourself — all those deep grooves that lock us into patterns of both thought and behavior are dissolved and temporarily suspended in a way that allows us to break those patterns.

What psychedelics do you think show some therapeutic potential?

There are two drugs that show the most potential and will probably be legalized for medical use soon. One is a drug that isn’t always considered a psychedelic, MDMA, has been shown to be incredibly useful in the treatment of trauma, including PTSD in soldiers or in rape victims. A recent study showed great effectiveness at treating those problems. That’s very encouraging, and MDMA may be the first of these drugs to get approved.

The second is psilocybin. It appears to be very useful in the treatment of anxiety and depression.

What happens to a person who has these mental health issues after they take a dose of psilocybin in clinical trials?

Well, it’s important to remember that when psilocybin is used in a medical and healing context, it’s very different than the recreational use of the drug. This isn’t doctors giving you a pill and sending you out into the world. For a period of four or five hours, you are in a room that’s decorated like a cozy den or study. You’re lying down on a couch, you have eye shades on and headphones, which are playing a very carefully curated playlist to make you go inside to have an internal experience. And you’re with two guides at all times, who are there looking out for your interests. It’s an incredibly safe environment in which to let down your defenses, and that’s essentially what happens.

The defenses we use to deal with life and the world are suspended for a period of time, and that creates this opening, this plastic moment where people can re-examine themselves and get some perspective on their habitual ways of thinking and doing. With the help of the guides, you use that material and try to understand it. After the session, you always come back the next day and have what’s called a period of integration, where the guides, who are trained therapists, help you interpret what happened and figure out ways to put it to good use in changing your life.

How do some people change after taking psilocybin in clinical trials?

One of the big questions about this is: what endures from this experience? One of the interesting studies they did when they crunched the data on the first groups of people who had had a guided psilocybin session was that these were adults, but one of their personality traits that psychologists call openness — openness to other people’s views, openness to new experience, openness to new ideas — increased. To find an actual measurable change in personality as adults is very unusual. Normally, our personalities are fixed by the time we’re in our 20s, but here is a very positive aspect of personality that could change and did change.

You tried various psychedelics for the book. Tell me about your best journey. What did it feel like?

My best was a fairly high-dose psilocybin journey that I had with a guide, a woman in her 50s who was a very skilled therapist and who worked in other modalities as well. I had to work with someone illicitly, and I learned that there is a thriving underground of psychedelic therapists.

What was stunning about it was I experienced complete ego-dissolution. I reached a point where my “self” just kind of fell apart into these little pieces of paper. I saw myself get scattered to the wind, but I was alright with that.

The consciousness that was perceiving all of this was not my usual ego. It wasn’t upset or defensive or trying to do anything. It was dispassionate, objective. And I learned a really important lesson in that moment, which is that I am not identical to my ego.

Did you feel your personality changed after trying these drugs?

I kind of feel like I went back to baseline. My wife thinks it’s changed me in some ways. Not in a profound way, but I think she would say that I’m more open and more patient, that I deal with emotional situations with a little more availability.

I think she may well be right. Simply spending this much time observing my mind and having experiences where I got to sneak up on it in various ways does have an effect. It’s the same effect that 10 years of psychoanalysis probably would have, although it didn’t take me nearly that long.

How do you feel psychedelics bring together the worlds of science and spirituality?

We often think about science and spirituality as these opposed terms, but in fact a lot of this research is forcing scientists to deal with spiritual questions, and some spiritual people to deal with scientific questions, which is very exciting.

The very first study in the modern era of psychedelic research, of any importance, was a 2006 study done at Johns Hopkins by a scientist named Roland Griffiths, a very prominent drug-abuse scientist. He found that what the psychedelics did in about 80% of cases was induce a mystical experience, which is a spiritual experience that was studied closely by William James 100 years ago. It has various aspects to it. Prominent among them is this dissolving of a sense of self, but that is followed by a merging with the universe, or with nature, or other people. It’s called the noetic sense — this sense that what you’re seeing or feeling or learning on this experience has the status of revealed truth. It’s not just an opinion — it’s objectively true.

We see this experience all over religious literature: people who have had an experience of meeting with the divine. These traits are common, and the fact that you could induce such a spiritual experience with a single administration of a drug was quite remarkable. These people reported that this experience was one of the top two or three in their lives, comparable to the birth of a child or the death of a parent. Now that we can actually induce a spiritual experience using a drug, we can study the phenomenon.

How has the experience of writing this book changed your mind about death?

On this psilocybin trip, I saw the faces of people close to me who had died. You understand why traditional cultures would take plant medicines to reconnect with the dead. You can see them and talk to them and they can talk to you. I’m not saying this is a supernatural phenomenon. It’s a psychological phenomenon — at least that’s how I understand it. It made people who were gone more present in my life, and I’m happy for that. I wrote this book during a period when my dad was dying. He had terminal cancer, and I dedicated the book to him before he died.

Psilocybin research is helping open that conversation — to make people more comfortable talking about it, to get patients to actually deal with it. Oncologists don’t do a very good job at that, and we have very little for the treatment of the psychology of people who are dying. So a drug that takes you into these spiritual realms where you can begin to think it through seems to me an enormous gift.

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-...f-psychedelics
http://time.com/5278036/michael-pollan-psychedelic-drugs/
 
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