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Facing Death With Psychedelics25:00
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One gram of psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms, is seen on a scale at New York University in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
One gram of psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms, is seen on a scale at New York University in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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

More:

This segment aired on May 16, 2012.

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