August 14, 2008

70's Flashback

I recently found an article on guardian.co.uk that explained how scientists were again testing psychedelic drugs on patients with mortal illnesses, just like the Swiss LSD trials in the 1970's. They hope to discover whether or not psilocybin, the active ingredient found in magic mushrooms, will help these patients faced with death discover a more optimistic point of view. One woman, Pamela Sakuda, who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, was a part of these trials and describes her psilocybin experience as very mind-opening and cleansing. (The video is a little lengthy, but I quoted an edited portion of what she says underneath.)

"As the session began, and as it built up, I felt this lump of emotions welling up and firming up almost like an entity. I started to cry a little. Then it started to dissipate and I started to look at it differently and I think that is the beauty of being able to expand your consciousness. I don't think the drug is the cause of these things. I think it is a catalyst that allows you to release your own thoughts and feelings from some place that you have bound them to very tightly. I began to realise that all of this negative fear and the guilt was such a hindrance to making the most of and enjoying the healthy time that I'm having - however long it may be. I was not utilising it to the best and enjoying my life because I was so afraid of what wasn't there yet. These substances occur in our natural world and people have been using them for thousands of years to treat physical illness, to treat social and behavioural problems."
After listening to her describe her experience on the drug, and her outlook on how it can help other patients with situations similar to her own, I began to think that this would be a good idea. I in no way agree with using it as a recreational drug. But I know that if I were to hear that I only had a year, a couple months, or even a few weeks left to live, my mind would be flooded with worries, as Sakuda explained. I would much rather be put into the mindset that I should make the most of the time I have left--something I imagine is very difficult to achieve on one's own. If the scientific community decides to support this endeavor, I would support it. I would want it for myself, for my family members, and for those I love if they were ever faced with the horrible news of impending death.

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