‘Magic Mushrooms’ Return to Psychology Labs
‘Magic Mushrooms’ Return to Psychology Labs – Bloomberg.
Cancer survivor Lauri Reamer lived in constant dread that her disease would return, until she took a psychedelic drug in a Johns Hopkins University study.
The 48-year mother of three was given psilocybin, the main ingredient in the “magic mushrooms” of the 1960s, as a remedy to ease anxiety. She spent most of her first “trip” crying, then emerged from the next with less anxiety, better sleep and happier relations with family and friends, she recalled.
The experience “really cracked me open,” said Reamer, an anesthesiologist at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore before she was diagnosed with leukemia. “It let me be in life again, instead of this place of fear where I had been living.”
Almost 40 years after Richard Nixon called former Harvard University psychologist Timothy Leary the most dangerous man in America for promoting use of hallucinogenic substances, there is a rebirth of interest in their therapeutic benefits. Reamer was enrolled in a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins to relieve fear of death in cancer patients, one of a half-dozen similar studies under way at New York University, Harvard, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of New Mexico.
The new research, largely driven by the psychiatric community, is also testing psychedelics for use against depression, chronic headaches and addiction as current scientists, much like their 1960s predecessors, seek to understand the “consciousness-expanding” effects of the drugs.
NeilS — Being a cancer survivor myself, I can attest to the fact that the worst part, at least for me, was the anxiety after all the treatment was done. During the treatment I knew I was doing what needed to be done to combat my ailment so I pressed on. After my final end-of-chemo CT, I felt helpless and stricken with anxiety. Cancer isn’t something you “cure” per se. Best case you go into something like indefinite remission. There is always a chance that it might come creeping back up on you and take you unawares. It can be an all-consuming mental struggle where every night as you pull up the covers you wonder if it has come back to finish you.
Yet, as time goes on you learn to cope, but the first few years are the hardest. The first few years when you are still in the “potential danger zone” and the cancer has the highest likelihood of returning. During that time I was lucky enough to have many friends and family that provided the psychological support that I needed. Others, though, may not be so lucky or the anxiety could pressure them in completely different ways. For those people I am infinitely sympathetic and any kind of drug or therapy that may work would be a welcome tool to combat the constant dread. Hopefully the scientific research into the usefulness of these drugs will prevail and help many people with increasing their quality of life.