- Scientists are taking a second look at the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs, in particular psilocybin. This hallucinogen may offer faster, more effective treatment for individuals in a spiritual deficit state.
- A spiritual deficit state encompasses the severe distress and emotional suffering associated with deeply threatening events, such as a terminal illness. Modern medicine has typically struggled to assuage this condition.
- A few doses of psilocybin, in a carefully tailored setting and with a therapist's guidance, have been shown to calm the psychological turbulence of people afflicted with a number of conditions, including depression and alcohol addiction.
I was lying on a lumpy off-white sofa under a mountain of blankets, wearing an eye mask and listening to a Brahms symphony playing through my headphones. The notes of a violin solo lit three strands of deep red light, which trickled like water in my right visual field. Deeper tones poured from above in huge blue clouds in the middle distance. Another violin flourish turned the sky yellow and brought with it a comet's tail of body parts flying from the upper left of my visual field to the lower right, disappearing behind me.
This all happened within the first hour of my swallowing a capsule of psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” as a study subject at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit (BPRU). Patients with cancer are given the drug to improve mood and outlook and to help regain a sense of existential meaning in the face of a deadly disease.
This article was originally published with the title Calming a Turbulent Mind.