Biography/Memoir

Are psychedelics the answer to depression and addiction?

So he did something bold. He applied to conduct the very first clinical trial on a psychedelic since the ban a whole generation before. He wanted to give psilocybin, a naturally occurring chemical found inside “magic” mushrooms, to “respectable” citizens who had never used it before, to see if they would have a mystical experience — and to discover what the longer-term consequences, if any, would be. “I have to say, frankly, that I was a skeptic,” he told me one afternoon as we drove across Baltimore. When he got the permission to proceed, people were startled. They assumed it was because the regulators thought Roland, with such a solid reputation, could only find that these drugs were harmful.

Professor Griffiths had been a young grad student when he walked away from his attempts at meditation, pissed off. As the years passed, he rose to become a leading Professor of Psychology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Maryland, one of the best academic institutions in the world. He rose, he says, by being “certifiably workaholic,” or “pretty close to it.” He became the leading expert in the world on the effects of caffeine, and he was like a personification of his drug: wired, and tightly-wound. He was succeeding on all the measures of success in his world – but he felt like there was a hole in his life. It was, he told me “as though in some respects I was going through the motions of being a scientist and having a career in science.” He found himself thinking back across the decades, to his aborted stab at mindfulness. He started to look to see if there was any scientific evidence for the benefits of mindfulness – but he quickly saw that in his academic world, it was almost heresy to talk about the deep inner self. This was not regarded as real science. He went to an ashram – and found that this time, he could meditate after all. “This inner world started to open up — and I started to open up,” he said. The people he was meeting who had been meditating for years seemed — as he observed them — to have a spiritual dimension to their lives

Original Article (Salon):
Are psychedelics the answer to depression and addiction?
Artwork Fair Use: Jatlas1

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