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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

Psychopharmacological Agents for the Terminally Ill and Bereaved.

Goldberg, Ivan K.; Malitz, Sidney; Kutscher, Austin H. (Editors). (1973).
The Foundation of Thanatology: no place.

ISBN: 0-88238-700-6

Description: Hardcover, x + 339 pages.

Contents: Preface, 35 unnumbered chapters divided into 8 unnumbered parts: 1. General, 2. Drugs, 3. Pain, 4. Case Studies, 5. Humanistic and Religious, 6. The Bereaved, 7. Children, 8. Research, contributors, index.

Contributors: Arthur M. Arkin, Madelaine A. Bader, Penelope R. Buschman, Bruce L. Danto, Tamara Ferguson, Elaine A. Finnberg, Ivan K. Goldberg, Paul L. Goldiner, Eda E. Goldstein, Louis E. Goodman, Harvey Gralnick, Stanislav Grof, Henry O. Heinemann, Leo E. Hollister, Donald F. Klein, Gerald L. Klerman, Natha S. Kline, Albert A. Kurkland, Austin H. Kutscher, Harlan A. Kutscher, Lillian G. Kutscher, James B. Landis, David Maddison, Rober P. Maickel, Sidney Malitz, Lester C. Marks, Sidney Merlis, Ralph A. O'Connell, Harry S. Olin, Walter N. Pahnke, Paul R. Patterson, S. N. Pradhan, Elizabeth R. Prichard, Beverley Raphael, W. Dewi Rees, Robert B. Reeves, Jr., Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Arthur H. Schmale, Bernard Schoenberg, John E. Schowalter, Arthur K. Shaprio, Sarah L. Sheets, A. Arthur Sugerman, Robert G. Twycross, Ann Wharton, and Alfred Wiener.

Note: Distributed by Columbia University Press.

Excerpt(s): A professional member of our research department (Mrs. G.), a woman in her early forties, developed a progressive neoplastic disease. She had undergone a radical mastectomy, and subsequent surgery had revealed inoperable metastasis to the liver. Although still ambulatory, she was in considerable distress unable even to breathe deeply without severe pain. She was fully aware of the gravity of her condition and was becoming increasingly depressed and distraught over her steadily worsening course.

Our colleague, while not directly associated with the LSD projects, was conversant with the nature of the work. She requested treatment. (page 87).

These very limited but encouraging observations, plus our own clinical investigative experience with over a hundred psychiatric patients who, by that time, had been treated without serious side effects or sequelae by LSD-assisted psychotherapy, led to a decision to proceed with the treatment of Mrs. G. However, the approach differed from Kast's in that the LSD was administered as an adjunct to psychotherapy and not as a chemotherapeutic procedure. In our own treatment plan, the objective was to achieve a psychedelic peak experience in the context of a framework of brief but intensive psychotherapy, employing the LSD as an adjunct to the psychotherapeutic endeavor.

Preparation for the LSD session occupied somewhat over a week. It focused on the issue of personal identity and the state of important current relationships. Two days after the 200 mcg session, the patient went on a vacation with her husband and children. Upon return, two weeks after the session, she completed a report on her experience which is reproduced below in greatly abbreviated form. (page 88).

"Mainly, I remember two experiences. I was alone in a timeless world with no boundaries. There was no atmosphere, there was no color, no imagery. Suddenly I recognized that I was a moment in time...Again in the void, alone without the time-space boundaries. Life reduced itself over and over again to the least common denominator. I became poignantly aware that the core of life is love. At this moment I felt that I was reaching out to the world to all people but especially to those closest to me. I wept long for the wasted years, the search for identity in false places, the neglected opportunities, the emotional energy lost in basically meaningless pursuits.
"As I began to emerge...I felt joy, not only for myself but for having been able to use the experience of these people (the treatment team) ...Later, as members of my family came, there was a closeness that seemed new. I was radiant, they said. I seemed at peace ... Some of my physical symptoms were gone...the excessive fatigue, some of the pain." MMPI's had been administered to the patient one week prior and two weeks subsequent to her LSD session. The retesting indicated a significant reduction on the depression scale and a general lessening of pathological signs. She returned to work and appeared in relatively good spirits. Five weeks after the date of the session, upon the development of ascites, the patient was rehospitalized. She died quietly three days later. (page 89).

In our approach, LSD was administered in much higher dosages (200-500 mcg), after careful preparation and within the framework of systematic psychotherapy. Analgesia was not the primary goal; the implicit or explicit aim was to relieve not only the physical but also the emotional suffering of the patient and influence favorable his attitude towards death. In spite of the fact that achieving a profound transcendental experience was the ultimate and most desirable objective, the patients were actively encouraged to work through emotionally difficult experiences if these occurred in the sessions. (page 108)

The clinical improvement of the terminal patients in regard to various aspects of emotional distress (such as depression, anxiety, insomnia and social withdrawal) was the least surprising finding for the LSD therapists. Depression, anxiety and social isolation were the most responsive symptoms in our previous studies involving psychedelic therapy of alcoholics, neurotics, and narcotic drug addicts. Dramatic improvements were observed on these parameters both in studies utilizing LSD and DPT. These changes were sometimes observed after successful psychodynamic sessions with good resolution and integration, but they were most striking after sessions characterized by profound psychedelic peak experiences.

Some of the patients who experienced the shattering phenomenon of death and rebirth followed by an experience of cosmic unity seemed to show a radical and lasting change in their fundamental concepts of man's relation to the universe. Death, instead of being seen as the ultimate end of everything and a step into nothingness, appeared suddenly as a transition into a different type of existence; the idea of possible continuity of consciousness beyond physical death seemed to be much more plausible than the opposite. The patients who had the transcendental experiences developed a rather deep belief in the ultimate cosmic unity of all creation and experienced themselves as part of it without regard to the situation they were facing. The encounter with elements of the deep unconscious in the form of transpersonal experiences (such as the Jungian archetypes, racial and collective memories, experience of the cosmic drama, divine and demonic appearances, etc.) enabled them to relate in a very tangible and convincing way to psychic realities that were far beyond their individual framework. It seems that it was this opening of the transpersonal and cosmic panorama that provided a background and referential system against which the fact of individual destruction appeared to be relatively unimportant. ("Psychedelic Drug Assisted Psychotherapy in Patients with Terminal Cancer", Kurland, Grof, Pahnke, and Goodman, page 113).

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