Thanatology And Psychedellics

Thanatology And Psychedellics

What happens when we die?
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Death is an experience that every human consciousness must undergo, but no one knows exactly what happens. There are religious beliefs of course, but even the devoutly religious can't claim to know exactly what lies ahead. This is where thanatology comes into play. The psychiatric side of this often overlooked science attempts to answer the question of what we experience at the time of deathh. Interestingly enough, people who have undergone extreme psychedelic experiences claim to know the answer to this question. With more research into these fields and substances, maybe humanity can finally know the answer to its oldest question: what happens after death?

Rick Strassman, in his piece Spirit Molecule, describes how at the moment of death, the pineal gland likely releases a large amount of DMT. Some say (based on anecdotal evidence) that because of hallucinogens’ effects of time dilation, suggestibility, and euphoric visions, the viewer may see exactly what they expected to see upon their death. In essence, if you believe in heaven, you’ll see heaven; If you’re worried you’ll be punished, you’ll see hell. Of course, the evidence supporting the “dump of DMT” at the time of death is controversial. It’s currently impossible to prove or disprove this claim, and no further study has been made as to its legitimacy. However, regardless of the cause, it is an undisputed fact that near death experiences (NDEs) often result in hallucination.

In Clifton D. Bryant’s "Handbook of Death and Dying" he puts forth that a buildup of carbon monoxide can produce similar effects to classical hallucinogens (peyote, psilocybin, and LSD). He compares Timothy Leary’s trip reports with Moody’s NDE model, and quotes Jack Provonsha, a specialist in ethics, and the study of hallucinogenic drugs comparing the two because “altered psycho-chemistry is often accompanied by heightened levels of suggestibility.” (143). This is to say, the brain is in very similar chemical imbalance at both the time of death, and while on a hallucinogenic substance. As a result, by studying this state, neuroscientists can uncover if not what happens after death, what the last thoughts are before it.

In continuation of the studies done in the 1960’s on psilocybin, in particular the infamously poorly conducted studies by Timothy Leary, Dr. Roland Griffiths created the Johns Hopkins Psilocybin Cancer Research Project. They have been doing some exciting research on the role of psilocybin and relief of death anxiety. They first released a paper positively correlating mystical-type, religious experiences with psilocybin, resulting in the scientific community viewing experiments in such taboo areas in entirely different ways.

One of their current projects is on how psychedelics can soothe death anxiety, but the experiment isn’t finished so there is nothing published on the subject yet. However, Dr. William Richards explains the study in this lecture, and some very optimistic papers have been published here regarding their other experiments with this drug. What they are attempting to do, is alleviate peoples fear of death by showing them exactly what will happen. When their patients are on heavy doses of psilocybin their brains are in a similar chemical state to how they will be when they die. This soothes anxiety because people report that there is nothing to be afraid of. They believe they've seen exactly what lies ahead.

With continued research, great leaps can be taken in the field of psychedelic therapy. These drugs have been shown to cure a great many ailments, and for the past fifty years the only thing preventing this research has been public ignorance. It is my hope that in the upcoming years more research can be conducted in this field to find the answers to some of mankind’s greatest questions. More research into this field could help find the answer to "the hard problem" (what makes us conscious), if there is a collective intelligence, if absolute morals exist, and of course, what happens after death. Thanatology has been around for hundreds of years, but it seems like now, science is on the cusp of combining the mystical and the logical. Arthur C. Clarke’s famous “3rd Law” states that, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Wouldn’t it be great to scientifically prove the soul, something mankind has always seen as magic?

Cover Image Credit: Alex Grey - Collective Vision

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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I Spent 10 Hours In The ER And This Is What It Taught Me

I am fortunate--so fortunate.

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Going to the emergency room is never fun. In fact, it's scary as hell, but on Thursday I came face to face with it once again.

That morning, I had passed out and was having extreme chest pains, something that concerned both me and my loved ones, so I was taken to the emergency room to see what was wrong.

When admitted, I was forced to witness the stresses and sicknesses of others in addition to my own worries, but I soon realized that what I was going through wasn't nearly as bad as what others had to go through that day.

Between getting tests run on me and my body, I saw the distraught faces of other family members waiting for their mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters to be released. I saw them wide-eyed and worried, hoping that nothing was too terribly wrong—hoping that they would hear good news rather than bad. I saw so many faces that day—faces that were tired and possibly fighting sleep from hours before I had arrived.

And that's when it hit me, how lucky I was to be in the position I was in. Yes, I felt terribly sick, and I was worried myself that I would be given bad news, but I didn't have to worry about where I would get the money from to pay for my tests because I was fortunate enough to have health insurance—something that not everyone can afford.

Sitting in my bed, after being released with test results that came back 100% normal, I was forced to think about my experience in depth. I was fortunate beyond measure. Not only was I fortunate to be healthy, but I was fortunate to get treated without worrying about how I would pay for it.

Of the many faces I saw Thursday morning through afternoon, I know that not all of them received the same good news that I did. Some of them may have had extra weight on their shoulders because they didn't know how they would pay for their treatments, and more than that, some of the people I saw that day could have been fighting for their lives.

Spending 10 hours in the ER taught me to be more grateful for the life I have.

It taught me to not take anything for granted, especially my being fortunate enough to have health insurance. And most of all, it taught me to never go a day without telling those who are close to me how much I love and appreciate them, whether it be friends or family.

It's easy to take things for granted, but we only have one life to live, so we need to live a life of gratitude and appreciation because we never know when our last day may be.

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