08.07.18 | Hallucinogens and the Fear of Death
Psilocybin -- the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms -- s enjoying quite a rehabilitation of reputation these days. Once the subject of Timothy Leary's counterculture playground and Nixon's anti-drug vendetta, it has found its way into the research labs at Johns Hopkins, NYU, and the Imperial College in London. The subject of this current research is of a decidedly non-recreational nature i.e. its application to substantially reduce the anxiety and depression attendant to terminal patients' impending death (click:
Early test have been quite encouraging and there is talk of FDA Phase 3 clinical trials
The use of microdose hallucinogenic drugs to overcome the fear of death is just a piece of a broader discussion about the existential dread of our own ultimate demise. We first touched on the subject in a previous Health and Spirit session, taking note of the Epicurean dictum that, as we don't obsess about our existence and our role within the universe before we were born, why should it be any different after we're gone. Our tentative conclusion was that such fear is ego-talk.
And then there was the Member Monday (3/6) discussion over David Foster Wallace "This Is Water" commencement address including the central admonition to escape our respective skull-sized kingdoms. That seems to be at the core of the psilocybin experience -- a soothing sense of oneness beyond oneself that eliminates or mitigates the terror of one's own death.
Please note our discussion will be fundamentally philosophical in nature and participants are free to share as much or as little as they please.