Can LSD save your soul?

The LA Times has an interesting article on recent experiments using hallucinogenic drugs to treat various ailments.

Janeen Delany describes herself as an “old hippie” who’s smoked plenty of marijuana. But she never really dabbled in hallucinogens — until two years ago, at the age of 59.

A diagnosis of incurable leukemia had knocked the optimism out of the retired plant nurserywoman living in Phoenix. So she signed up for a clinical trial to test whether psilocybin — the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms” — could help with depression or anxiety following a grim diagnosis.

… With two researchers at her side, she embarked on a six-hour journey into altered consciousness that she calls “the single most life-changing experience I’ve ever had.”

Let me state the obvious: only the lamest of hippies would not dabble in hallucinogens until the age of 59.

The article continues…

Delany said her “trip” awakened a deep and reassuring sense of “knowing.” She came to see the universe and everything in it as interconnected. As the music in her headphones reached a crescendo, she held her breath and realized it would OK — no, really easy — not to breathe anymore. She sensed there was nothing more she needed to know and therefore nothing she needed to fear about dying.

And that, paradoxically, has allowed her to live.

This notion that hallucinogenic drugs stimulate the experience of an interconnected universe caught my eye, because it’s very similar to the experience neuroscientist and author Jill Bolte Taylor had upon having a left brain stroke. (Details here.) This opens up an interesting question: does LSD operate on the brain in the same way as a stroke? Does it release certain neural networks from the inhibition put upon them by other neural networks? (In Taylor’s case, her more free-flowing nonsequential right hemisphere was released from the inhibitions of the left hemisphere.) Someone should investigate this fascinating question, if they haven’t already.

2 Responses to “Can LSD save your soul?”


  1. John Saleeby

    She should have had a little mushroom tea, climbed inside a Sensory Deprivation Tank, and turned into a Monkey.

    That’s a Ken Russell reference!

    “John! All the people in this Movie look like you!”

    That’s what the black guys at work said when I showed em that Movie.

    “This Movie sucks!”

    That’s what the black guys at work said when I showed em “Mystery Train”.

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