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MAPS Bulletin Summer 2014: Research Edition
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May 16, 2012

Facing Death With Psychedelics

By: Meara Sharma

Radio Boston

Radio Boston interviews Dr. John Halpern, a researcher at Harvard’s McLean Hospital exploring MDMA-assisted treatment to help people suffering from anxiety associated with advanced-stage illness.

Originally appearing here.

Listen the interview at Radio Boston or download the interview here (mp3).

We all hope we’d be filled with grace and serenity when facing death at the end of a long struggle with a terminal illness. But for many, it is a moment of anxiety, fear and potential psychological trauma. Now, science is turning its interest back to the potential healing power of psychedelic drugs to alleviate end-of-life anxiety.

“The thinking is that with the aid of the psychedelic… it may help bring back memories; it promotes introspection, it can be a touchstone, it can be grounding,” said Dr. John Halpern, a researcher who has used MDMA – also known as ecsatasy – to help relieve end-of-life stresses in two cancer patients.

We’ll talk with Dr. Halpern about the state of the science of psychedelics, and what it says over all about how Americans approach end-of-life care.

Guest: Dr. John Halpern, head of the Laboratory for Integrative Psychiatry at McLean Hospital

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