Within the last century we have come up with modern remedies and solutions for many situations that were desolate and unescapable before. Often antibiotics prevent death from diseases that were considered fatal in the past. Worn out hips can be replaced and modern clinical medicine almost seems to be working miracles. But just almost.
At the end of the day, the essential questions are still the same as they have been in preceding millennia. We all come to face death, the inevitability of our own end and the loss of those we love.
Our culture has outsourced the physical processes of birth and death to hospitals and nursing homes. These and other essential experiences no longer naturally come to us as we turn into adults. Many people live their lives without ever really coming face to face with the realization that they, too, are dying bit by bit every day and are eventually headed towards individual extinction.
In this cultural paradigm of negligence concerning death, age and disease, many people are thoroughly unprepared when they face a fatal disease, tumor or accident. Since the essential questions “How do I want to grow old and die?“ and “How can I cope with the existential fear of dying?“ have never been asked, there are no answers when the are desperately needed. People often feel alone, desolate and in despair in the face of disease and death.
Psychedelics have often shown their ability to allow us glimpse beyond the curtain of taboo and fear to do with death and dying. They allow for changes in perspective and help to adjust and clarify what is really important for the individual. The altered states of consciousness surrounding the use of psychedelics have been described similarly to those accompanying (conscious) death processes.
Several of the very successful contemporary scientific studies on classic psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin have been conducted with patients suffering from anxiety to do with terminal illness – often leading to patients reporting a growing sense of calm and lessened fearfulness concerning their immanent deaths.
Peter Gasser who will join the workshop online conducted two studies with LSD assisted treatments in patients with existential distress due to life threatening diseases. He learned that the specific situation in dealing with the anxiety of dying and the fear of suffering at the end of our life, needs a special approach for these patients. Since these fears are not symptoms of an anxiety disorder that should be eradicated. The therapeutic task is to find a way of supporting and coping with these “psychological flags” of the experience of the limitation of our human condition.
Bridging the gap between academic medicine and holistic approaches on death with a special emphasis on the psychedelic state and its possible learnings , our team of facilitators will draw from their broad scope of experience on how altered states of consciousness and especially the psychedelic experience can help us come to terms with our own existential limitation and mortality, including aspects of secular spirituality and personal observations.
The workshop is intended to inspire vivid discussions and exchanges both on the personal and professional level.