When I was reading some book about the magic of psychedelic drugs and asked my then-shrink, Jack, why I couldn't just down a tab and skip over all the talk sessions we were going through, he kept a straight face that would have done the Las Vegas poker championship proud. Gently, but firmly, he steered me away from the notion of magic bullets.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The psychedelic drug in "magic mushrooms" can quickly and effectively help treat anxiety and depression in cancer patients, an effect that may last for months, two small studies show.It worked for Dinah Bazer, who endured a terrifying hallucination that rid her of the fear that her ovarian cancer would return. And for Estalyn Walcoff, who says the drug experience led her to begin a comforting spiritual journey.The work released Thursday is preliminary and experts say more definitive research must be done on the effects of the substance, called psilocybin (sih-loh-SY'-bihn).
The upside of epiphanies is that they lay out the potential for a wider vision. The downside is that where there is no capacity or muscle to digest the discovery, a bad-trip sense of failure can enter and fester. I think Jack's point of view was to proceed patiently and deliberately to build the foundation on which an organic understanding might be nourished. A wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am opening, while enticing, was just too iffy by half.
The key phrase in these discussions of psychedelic-drug-use is "under proper circumstances." The trouble is that the people relying on such reasoning imagine such circumstances can be controlled. Sometimes they can. But equally, sometimes the psychedelic takes control and outstrips the capacity of the reasoning and reasonable controller... let alone the patient in question.
But it is interesting, in an age of Facebook and texting and other quick fixes, to see Timothy Leary back in the running. The pain and confusion of psychological black holes are real and compelling. The longing for a Tooth Fairy is compelling.
Compelling ... and then there's the question of what actually works.