Researchers take a fresh look at hallucinogens

For decades the study of the therapeutic potential of hallucinogens had been badly discredited by the outsized claims made by researchers back in the 1960s. But now a new generation of scientific inquiry has sprung up to pursue promising leads. And many of the top researchers in the field will be meeting this week in San Jose, CA for the biggest scientific gathering on the subject in four decades.

New research has highlighted the potential therapeutic value of hallucinogens like the mushroom psilocybin for treating depression in cancer victims, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction, end-of-life stress and more. Subjects have described intense spiritual experiences similar to religious mystics.

"It was a whole personality shift for me," one subject that had suffered from depression told the New York Times. "I wasn't any longer attached to my performance and trying to control things. I could see that the really good things in life will happen if you just show up and share your natural enthusiasms with people. You have a feeling of attunement with other people."

"Under the influences of hallucinogens," writes Dr. Charles Grob, a researcher at UCLA, "individuals transcend their primary identification with their bodies and experience ego-free states before the time of their actual physical demise, and return with a new perspective and profound acceptance of the life constant: change."

- here's the article from the New York Times