Interest in Psychedelics ‘Schrooms
Mike told me doesn’t do mushrooms very often-maybe once or twice a year-but when he does, it’s because he wants to explore a problem in his life that has been troubling him. “When I take them, it may be because I have a decision to make, or maybe I suspect that my outlook toward something is not as healthy or as loving as I would like it to be,” he said. “Psilocybin allows me to see things with a fresh point of view. When I’m on them, [I’m] not as burdened by cynicism or other self-protective layers in my psychology.”
Is Mike delusional about the power of mushrooms to refresh his worldview?
In the last decade, research into the effects of psychedelic drugs on consciousness has become a growing field of study in American academia. Psychologists at UCLA, Johns Hopkins Medical School and NYU, among other places, have published research showing that psychedelics can promote happiness in ordinary people, as well as alleviate depression and anxiety among the terminally ill. The positive effects of taking psilocybin Mike described are similar to many of the case descriptions contained in these studies (though no doubt none of the researchers involved would endorse his actions).
In the fall Charles Grob, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine, published a study in the leading journal Archives of General Psychiatry finding that people with terminal stage-IV cancer reported feeling dramatically less anxiety after taking a small, measured dose of psilocybin during a carefully administered experiment. Grob and his team checked in with their subjects after three months, and then again after six months; in each case, the subjects reported more benefits as time went on.
“Many of the subjects told us that it helped them come to terms with the fact that they were going to die,” Grob said. “It gave them the strength to confront directly what was going on. They told us that their experience helped them to live in the moment, to take each day as it came in the time they had remaining, as opposed to feeling immobilized because of their predicament.”
Grob distinguished between psilocybin and standard issue antidepressants, which he said tend to dampen or suppress psychological problems without necessarily curing them. “The response rates among people with terminal cancer to conventional medications that target symptoms of anxiety and depression are not that impressive,” he said. “Psilocybin is an entirely different mechanism. It has the potential to facilitate what’s been called a psycho-spiritual epiphany.