The existential medicine
“Ultimately, his friends and daughter—entering college by this time—convinced him that he needed to address his mental wellbeing. He tried counseling, but it didn’t improve his outlook. Neither did antidepressants. After several screening and counseling visits, Martin found himself sitting on a couch in a converted medical office/living room on Hopkins’ Bayview campus.”
Meanwhile, early returns from other university studies are indicating that psilocybin has the potential to become a revolutionary tool in treating alcoholism, drug addiction, OCD, as well as anxiety and depression associated with cancer diagnoses such as Martin suffered. Other studies show psychedelic treatment could be useful therapy for ex-offenders, in terms of reducing recidivism, by reducing substance abuse and domestic violence. Researchers acknowledge it’s not exactly clear how psilocybin manages to reduce, and in some cases eliminate, depression and the fear of death, or, ironically cravings for other drugs and substances. What is known is new fMRI imaging shows one of the immediate effects of psilocybin is decreased activity in the region of the brain that involves habitual behaviors and thinking patterns (known as the default mode network) and the perception of the self—the ego, in other words. And, that throughout recorded history, transcendent mystical experiences have produced life-altering changes in human beings. Think St. Paul’s white-light conversion on the road to Damascus; the visions of the peasant girl Joan of Arc in France; Siddhartha Gautama’s awakening beneath the Bodhi tree.