Imagine a family of drugs that could treat addiction, depression and post-traumatic stress: sicknesses of the soul for which modern medicine, in all its surgical wizardry, has few cures. Substances that were a fillip to creativity and could provide those who took them with an experience comparable to seeing God or witnessing the birth of a child. Say these wonder chemicals were found: why would a society make them illegal?
The question has dogged Amanda Feilding since the 1960s, when during her teens and early 20s she first tried psychedelics. Through cannabis, LSD and magic mushrooms she found that the doors of perception were flung wide open. A blissful period of experimentation followed, in the heyday of that swinging decade, before the doors were slammed shut again in what she says was a panic about their dangers.
“It was a tragedy,” she tells me on a wet morning at Beckley Park, her home outside Oxford. “Ann Shulgin [psychedelics pioneer, and widow of its patron saint, Alexander]is a great friend. She said that on the day they heard they couldn’t use LSD or MDMA for their research they were in tears at the loss for the patients. They knew the real value of these substances to aid so many areas that are intractable.”
Feilding has dedicated her life to the reversal of this proscription, first as an artist and latterly as a tireless supporter of scientific research, courtesy of her Beckley Foundation. The dangers of abusing recreational drugs have been well documented since the 1960s, and for many scientists and policy-makers they remain as urgent as ever. Feilding hopes to show that the risks are overstated and that the laws surrounding their use should be relaxed. After decades of perseverance, there are signs that her work is coming to fruition. A handful of studies using LSD and psilocybin (the psychedelic compound found in mushrooms) has turned into a steady trickle, and the results have been promising to her cause. More remarkably, some of the theories thrown about half a century ago might be borne out by modern science.
– Read the entire article at AlterNet.