A Profound Video on Healing Rape Brings Hope
Wow!!! I worked as a nurse on a locked psych ward for seven years. This is by far the best video I've ever seen showing how screwed up things can be for people in that world. Yet it also shows how even in the midst of incredible despair, healing and even transformation is entirely possible. What a powerful, profound video! What a beautiful and courageous young woman this is for sharing her incredible story. Thank you, Anna!!!
The facebook version of this six-minute video has been viewed over 38 million times as of the time I write this (Feb. 27th) since Anna posted it on Jan. 19th. Please take the time to experience both this young woman's pain and her eventual healing and transformation. May we all find the courage to face our challenges with such openness and grace.
Another sign of how the global paradigm is shifting comes in the form of a beautifully written article in the esteemed magazine New Yorker. Written by UC Berkeley Professor Michael Pollan, a New York Times best selling author, this profound article describes the beautiful healing of anxiety and depression among those facing death from cancer as a result of innovative trials of psychedelic therapy approved by the FDA. The title of the article is "The Trip Treatment: Research into psychedelics, shut down for decades, is now yielding exciting results."
As this engaging article is quite long and many won't be able to find the time to read the whole story, I've selected a few key passages here below to give a good taste of the richness presented. First, a paragraph discussing a landmark 1962 study as a historical background:
Perhaps the most influential and rigorous of [early psychedelic] studies was the Good Friday experiment, conducted in 1962 by Walter Pahnke, a psychiatrist and minister working on a Ph.D. dissertation ... at Harvard. In a double-blind experiment, twenty divinity students received a capsule of white powder right before a Good Friday service at Marsh Chapel; ten contained psilocybin, ten an active placebo. Eight of the ten students receiving psilocybin reported a mystical experience, while only one in the control group experienced a feeling of "sacredness" and a "sense of peace." Pahnke concluded that the experiences of eight who received the psilocybin were "indistinguishable from, if not identical with," the classic mystical experiences reported in the literature by William James, Walter Stace, and others.
Referring to recent studies with psychedelics and particularly psilocybin:
The recreational use of psychedelics is famously associated with instances of psychosis, flashback, and suicide. But these adverse effects have not surfaced in the trials of drugs at N.Y.U. and Johns Hopkins. After nearly five hundred administrations of psilocybin, the researchers have reported no serious negative effects.
N.Y.U. (New York University) has had a training program in psychedelic therapy since 2008. Research scientist Stephen Ross of N.Y.U. commented on the results of one study where psilocybin was being given to cancer patients to treat anxiety and depression with incredible results:
“They were saying things like ‘I understand love is the most powerful force on the planet.’ People who had been palpably scared of death—they lost their fear. The fact that a drug given once can have such an effect for so long is ... unprecedented. We have never had anything like it in the psychiatric field.”
Thirty-six volunteers, none of whom had ever taken a hallucinogen, received a pill containing either psilocybin or an active placebo (methylphenidate, or Ritalin); in a subsequent session the pills were reversed. "When administered under supportive conditions," the paper concluded, "psilocybin occasioned experiences similar to spontaneously occurring mystical experiences." Participants ranked these experiences as among the most meaningful in their lives, comparable to the birth of a child or the death of a parent. Two-thirds of the participants rated the psilocybin session among the top five most spiritually significant experiences of their lives; a third ranked it at the top. Fourteen months later, these ratings had slipped only slightly.
Furthermore, the "completeness" of the mystical experience closely tracked the improvements reported in personal well-being, life satisfaction, and "positive behavior change" measured two months and then fourteen months after the session. A follow-up study by Katherine MacLean, a psychologist in Griffiths's lab, found that the psilocybin experience also had a positive and lasting effect on the personality of most participants. This is a striking result, since the conventional wisdom in psychology holds that personality is usually fixed by age thirty and thereafter is unlikely to substantially change.
"I don't want to use the word 'mind-blowing,'" Griffiths [commented], "but, as a scientific phenomenon, if you can create conditions in which seventy per cent of people will say they have had one of the five most meaningful experiences of their lives? To a scientist, that's just incredible."
When, in 2010, [U.K. neuroscientist Robin] Carhart-Harris first began studying the brains of volunteers on psychedelics, neuroscientists assumed that the drugs somehow excited brain activity–hence the vivid hallucinations and powerful emotions that people report. But when Carhart-Harris looked at the results of the first set of fMRI scans–which pinpoint areas of brain activity by mapping local blood flow and oxygen consumption–he discovered that the drug appeared to substantially reduce brain activity in one particular region: the "default-mode network."
"The N.I.M.H. [National Institute of Mental Health] is not opposed to work with psychedelics, but I doubt we would make a major investment," Tom Insel, the institute's director, [said]. He said that the N.I.M.H. would need to see "a path to development" and suspects that "it would be very difficult to get a pharmaceutical company interested in developing this drug, since it cannot be patented." It's also unlikely that Big Pharma would have any interest in a drug that is administered only once or twice in the course of treatment. There's not a lot of money here when you can be cured with one session.
Rick Doblin, the director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) [was asked if] he worries about another backlash. He suggested that the culture has made much progress since the nineteen-sixties. "That was a very different time," he said. "People wouldn't even talk about cancer or death then. Women were tranquillized to give birth; men weren't allowed in the delivery room. Yoga and meditation were totally weird. Now mindfulness is mainstream and everyone does yoga, and there are birthing centers and hospices all over. We've integrated all these things into our culture. And now I think we're ready to integrate psychedelics."
For a great seven-minute video following one participant in the study featured in the above article, see this webpage. Then watch a fascinating six-minute video of what happened back in the 1960s when a housewife was given LSD in a controlled experiment before the drug was made illegal.
When used for purely recreational purposes, psychedelics can be dangerous and have been known to even cause some deaths. Yet when used under carefully controlled conditions in scientific experiments conducted both in the 1950s and 60s and in the last decade or so, the results have been consistently positive, particularly in relieving anxiety and fear in a significant way. You can read about many of the sometimes astounding results of these studies in the summaries of major media articles at this link.
The craze for psychedlics in the 1960s and careless abandon for their use led to throwing the baby out with the bath water. Psychedelics were made illegal across the board, even though many scientific studies of the time had shown great promise in treating addiction, psychosis, and much more. Only recently are government and scientists reviving efforts to explore the incredible healing potential of these drugs. Maybe it's finally time to support funding for more studies to determine the risks and the benefits of these powerful substances. To learn more, read the full article at the link above and consider supporting the good work of MAPS in promoting this important work.
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