Can LSD Make Dying Easier?

Photo: The New York Times

When you think about LSD you probably picture the 60s and a bus full of hippies, Grateful Dead playing softly, revolutions being planned telepathically. What I bet you aren’t thinking about is a quiet psychiatrist’s office.

In the 50s and 60s LSD had a totally legit place in psychotherapy. It was used it to treat things like cluster headaches, alcoholism, kids with autism, and Cary Grant. But in 1966 the government harshed everyone’s buzz by making LSD illegal. Since then, most psychiatrists haven’t touched the stuff.

One group in Switzerland, the birthplace of LSD, is hoping to change that.

Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Gasser found a group of people suffering from terminal cancer, and what often comes along with that: depression and anxiety. He couldn’t do anything about their cancer but he had an idea about helping them cope with their situation: an epic acid trip.

See also: People With Higher IQ’s Are More Likely to Use Illegal Drugs… Why?

Let’s get this straight. This was not a group of ex-hippies from the 60s, these guys were terrified by the idea but they were willing to try it because they already faced something more terrifying: death.

Each person had two acid trips under the guidance of Dr. Gassen and his assistants. His role was half Ayahuasca shaman, half researcher, talking them though the trip and observing their experience.

Ten hours later, they saw things differently and felt less anxious about the time they had left. The best part? A follow-up study done one year later showed that this wasn’t just a fleeting change. LSD, it seems, worked its magic.

Timothy Leary said it best: “(LSD) can be very, very helpful in our society if used properly.” Oh wait, that was actually sitting Senator Bobby Kennedy speaking to congress in 1966 about the success of his wife’s psychedelic therapy. Today’s advocates hope this study is just the first step in getting the mainstream back on board with LSD.

See also: 10 famous geniuses and their drugs of choice


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