2:06 – Dr. Griffiths speaks on his published study which involved healthy subjects receiving psilocybin. Subject (who were ready, supported, and prepared) underwent what Dr. Griffiths labeled a “phenomenon” where the subjects experienced profoundly meaningful and deeply spiritual effects. These effects are valued way after the administration; months later, individuals continued to reflect back on that experience Subjects claim that it was one of the most significant moments of their lives. They compare it to the birth of a child or the death of a loved one in regards to profundity.
3:45 – He contrasts psilocybin to most drugs – cocaine, morphine etc. The effects are much more salient – which means that something stands out relative to its neighbors. Other drug experiences may be recalled by the user but subjects in Dr. Griffiths’s studies claim that the experiences felt on psilocybin are remembered with information that is useful to them in the future. They feel as though they have learned something personally important to them. These experiences have been Dr. Griffiths’s focus for the last ten years.
5:19 – Dr. Griffiths goes into detail on how he conducts these psilocybin sessions. It takes eight hours to prepare the subjects; during these eight hours, the administrators try and make the subjects feel comfortable and establish trust. The administered dose is 22mg of synthesized psilocybin per 70kg of bodyweight. These were subjects participating in a cancer trial.
7:37 – Experiences that the subjects have felt have been documented and organized. The core features of those experiences are as follows: Interconnectedness of all people and things, sense of sacredness towards the experiences, a truth value – subjects have claimed that the experience feels more real than waking consciousness, positive mood, transcendence of time and space – past and future seem to collapse into the present moment, ineffable – too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words. Truth value and interconnectedness seem to the be features that underscore the whole existential component that the drug is associated with.
11:37 – They discuss a study involving cancer patients and how with the help of psilocybin, subjects can better cope with news of a life threatening cancer. Anxiety and fear typically follow a diagnosis that reveals a subject has tested positive for cancer. The classic remedy for this fearful state is administration of antidepressants. These are subprime given that many individuals who take these antidepressants suffer from a degraded quality of life. Dr. Griffiths’s focus was to see if there could be beneficial therapeutic effects that can be observed when subjects were given psilocybin.
13:27 – The research on these substances are coming out of a five decade period of stagnation. After the psychedelic revolution of the 60s, these drugs were placed under Schedule I and research significantly slowed; no clinical research was being done. There was speculation regarding the benefits of psilocybin in the 60s.
15:09 – The subjects who recently discovered they had cancer expressed the same feelings of profundity that the healthy patients experienced. They were deeply moved by the experience; they experienced very large and sustained decreases in anxiety and depression. Those who were given the real drug and not the placebo experienced these profound feelings immediately after administration and long after the test – the placebo group only felt some significant effects immediate after administration.
18:47 – They discuss a study published in the UK looking at psilocybin’s effects on depression. 15 volunteers with treatment resistant depression were given psilocybin; they showed large and sustained positive effects out to a couple months [see the graphic in the podcast episode for further details]. The results are significant and this has led to a proposal handed to the FDA to further study psilocybin’s effect on depression (for more on this visit clinicaltrials.gov).