When O.M. was 21 he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was a pre-med student at the time. His first reaction was denial, followed by an overwhelming and lasting anxiety, as described in an April 22 Atlantic article by Roc Morin. Even after six rounds of chemotherapy helped O.M. kick the cancer, he was plagued with a devastating fear that the disease might return. He checked his lymph nodes so often to see if they’d grown that he developed callouses on his neck.
He experienced this debilitating end-of-life anxiety from the moment he was diagnosed until the day he ingested psilocybin, extracted from hallucinogenic mushrooms while laying on a psychiatrist’s couch during a New York University study. O.M. is one of 35 study participants, all of whom suffered from severe anxiety due to cancer.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study, which is still ongoing, looks at the potentials for psilocybin to treat anxiety and other psychological distress stemming from advanced cancer. The second half of the study will look at the effect of psilocybin on “pain perception, depression, existential/psychospiritual distress, attitudes toward disease progression, quality of life, and spiritual/mystical states of consciousness.”
O.M. told the Atlantic that when he ate the mushrooms, it was “like a switch went on.”
“I went from being anxious to analyzing my anxiety from the outside,” he said. “I realized that nothing was actually happening to me objectively. It was real because I let it become real. And, right when I had that thought, I saw a cloud of black smoke come out of my body and float away.”
– Read the entire article at AlterNet.