Tuesday, January 27, 2009

lsd and dying

Digital Seance | Modern pharmacology’s ability to synthesize psychoactive drugs has made the psychedelic experience-one that can encourage memories to arise as well as induce and mimic an ecstatic, mystical state-a common and widespread phenomenon for many Americans, and especially for the baby boom generation. Now, some are beginning to regard these drug experiences as a way to prepare for the shift in consciousness that may occur in dying.

For many, the first glimpses of the transcendent power of dreams or controlled images arose with psychedelic drugs. And so, many therapists and physicians are now beginning to consider using these drugs as a means for helping patients prepare for death. In a way, it is utilizing what many baby boomers have already learned about merging with dream images or using controlled hallucinations, taking that to a next step for use in a far more disciplined and traditionally organized way.

Such preparatory, visionary experiences were once practiced only by Native American or Aborigine shamans or medicine men, within sacred ceremonies, and by non-Western cultures that incorporated as part of their social milieu the nonordinary states of mind that psychotropic plants can create.

The modern synthesis of plant medicines into psilocybin or LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), however, removed the religious moorings from these experiences, opening them to potential abuse as party drugs. At the same time, it introduced vast numbers of people to altered states of mind that previously had been known only through religious rites and visions.