I just listened to a very interesting podcast from Sam Harris the American neuroscientist, philosopher and author. In the podcast he interviews Michael Pollen about his new book ‘How to change your mind‘.
In this discussion Sam talks to Michael about the latest scientific research into the use of psychedelics (specifically LSD and psilocybin – the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) to transform the experience of people suffering with depression, anxiety and the ‘psychospiritual distress’ of an impending death from life threatening illness.
From the Sam Harris site:
“They cover the the resurgence of interest in psychedelics in clinical practice and end-of-life care, the “betterment of well people,” the relationship between thinking and mental suffering, the differences between psychedelics and meditation, the non-duality of consciousness, the brain’s “default mode network,” their experiences with various psychedelics, and other topics.”
Having worked as an ED nurse and seeing many of the often catastrophic negative and wellness disrupting effects of recreational drugs on patients and their families I tend to heap psychedelic drug use into this same basket. I have held a skeptical and somewhat jaded view of their benefit.
Although I must say that my personal experience caring for people under the influence of LSD or magic mushrooms was usually much less onerous (and often a little bit enjoyable) than say methamphetamines, which was usually hectic, sometimes dangerous and always bad.
I found this conversation was really interesting and recommend a listen to challenge your own assumptions and beliefs around the potential use of psychedelic drugs in controlled and guided settings to provide therapeutic and spiritual betterment.
Although personally I would recommend meditation and deeper introspection with an appropriate mentor as an alternative approach, there seems to be a real promise for the use of LSD and psilocybin in some situations.
I will definitely be buying the book for a read.