[to top of second column]
The homey NYU room where Edlich had been getting psychotherapy was the setting for her drug experiences. She had brought along photos of her son, grandchildren and partner. She met with two therapists she'd come to trust, knowing they would stay with her through her hours under the influence.
Taking the drug followed a ritual, including the chalice and the hand-holding, because ritual has been part of psilocybin's successful use for centuries by traditional cultures, said Ross, the lead researcher.
After swallowing the white pill, Edlich perused an art book for about a half-hour while waiting for the psilocybin to take effect. Then she lay on the couch with headphones and listened to music with eyeshades over her eyes.
After her vision of the brilliantly colored dome, Edlich went on to two more experiences involving parts of her life. She won't describe those much, even to friends. They "brought me profound sadness and profound grief" but also transformed her understanding of what was important to her in the areas of relationships and trusting, she says.
She sat up and talked with her psychotherapists about what had gone on. And after nine hours in that room, she went home and wrote 30 pages in a diary about what had happened. And she thought about it for weeks afterward.
Did the drug experience help?
It let her view the issues she was working on through a different lens, she said.
"I think it made me more aware of what was so important and what was making me either sad or depressed. I think it was revelatory."
All three people in the study so far felt better, with less general anxiety and fear of death, and greater acceptance of the dying process, Ross said. No major side effects have appeared. The project plans to enroll a total of 32 people.
Ross' work follows up on a small study at the University of California, Los Angeles; results haven't been published yet, but they too are encouraging, according to experts familiar with it.
Yet another study of psilocybin for cancer anxiety, at Johns Hopkins University, has treated 11 out of a planned 44 participants so far. Chief investigator Roland Griffiths said he suspected the results would fall in line with the UCLA work.
In interviews, some psychiatrists who work with cancer patients reacted coolly to the prospects of using psilocybin.
"I'm kind of curious about it," said Dr. Susan Block of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. She said it's an open question how helpful the drug experiences could be, and "I don't think it's ever going to be a widely used treatment."
Ross, meanwhile, thinks patients might benefit from more than one dose of the drug during the psychotherapy. The study permits only one dose, but all three participants asked for a second, he said.
Edlich said her single dose "brought me to a deeper place in my mind, that I would never have gone to ... I feel a second session would even take me to more important places.
"I would do it a second time in a New York minute."
On the Net:
NYU experiment: http://bit.ly/dBZVGs
Johns Hopkins experiment:
Psychedelic research organization:
Heffter Research Institute: http://www.heffter.org/
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
< Recent articles
Back to top
News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries
Law & Courts |
Spiritual Life |
Health & Fitness |
Calendar | Letters to the Editor