End-of-life Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Psychedelics Awareness

Why am I writing a post on Psychedelics? A good friend Michael Ostrolenk asked me a few months ago — if I wanted to interview William A. Richards (Bill), and my response was hell yeah.

The Nishant Garg Show

Why am I writing a post on Psychedelics? Let’s rewind and do a quick backstory— my elder brother died in 2014 due to blood cancer when he was 33 years old. In my family, back then, nobody knew about any healing modalities and we were relying only on the medicine. In just 2 months from the diagnosis, my brother died. I have seen tremendous amount of suffering in my family since his death and I take a stand to spread the word about any healing modalities to heal ourselves and support others to heal. We can’t change what we are not aware of.

This is my first attempt to share something on Psychedelics and therefore, keeping it simple and short.

A good friend Michael Ostrolenk asked me a few months ago — if I wanted to interview William A. Richards (Bill), and my response was hell yeah. I literally jumped off of my chair when Bill(he likes to be called by name Bill) said yes to be a guest. We spoke for about 90mins and went into the details of the Psychedelics world, different substances, and Psychedelics assisted therapy, and much more to heal the trauma, anxiety, depression, dying cancer patients and many other ways and areas to incorporate Psychedelics. The podcast episode will be launched very soon.

Updates by 6/28/2021: I sent this post to Bill to review and get the feedback if I misstated anything. Bill is kind enough to review and therefore I’m adding a few more things to help people better understand and attempt to remove any confusion from this post. At some places, you will see a strikethrough text I made after hearing from Bill. Here is a note from Bill’s desk(in italics):

Be careful not to imply that psychedelics “heal dying cancer patients”.  Though it is not impossible that some persons may live longer due to better self-care and more effective immune systems once depression fades, our research to date is focused on quality of life, not quantity.  The goal is to help people “live until they die”.  Also more is needed than “safe environment and container”; those who choose to take psychedelics (legally or illegally) need to be well prepared/educated and attend to both medical and psychological/spiritual considerations.  Some incur a greater degree of risk than others, for example anyone with severe psychological problems/history of psychosis, either personally or in terms of genetics/family history, or people with brain tumors, poorly functioning kidneys, cardiac issues, other medications in one’s system, etc.  There’s a lot we don’t know at this point.

The CBS “60 Minutes” segment isn’t from “when psychedelics were legal”.  They always have been legal in research contexts for investigators with an IND—an Investigational New Drug Permit—from the FDA, which of course we had at the time (1976).  Back when I got involved in Germany in 1963, psychedelics were legal (and relatively unknown)—sent through the mail to interested physicians by Sandoz Pharmaceuticals in Switzerland.  This changed in the late 1960’s when Nixon’s “drug war” was launched, scheduling of drugs was established, and UN treaties were signed.

First thing first — How I got started in Psychedelics? For quite some time, I thought psychedelics isn’t for me. There are so many myths around it and I was trapped in it.

A friend invited me over dinner who is a celebrated person in the space of Human Optimization. He offered me MDMA and my questions were — what do I do with this and what are the benefits? He mentioned — MDMA is a heart opener, develops deep empathy and love for others, and suggested I take it the next morning and go in nature. The next morning, I had no idea what I was getting into. I took the pill with confidence and after about 20 mins, I started seeing my vision bright and I felt deep love for animals and human beings. It was a beautiful different experience. Usually, the MDMA experience (or trip) lasts for about 6 hours(in my experience). Make sure to do your own research before consuming it.

After a few months later, I had another Psychedelic experience using DMT with a trusted friend in a safe setting. Intention setting is important here. My intentions were to visit my childhood trauma and adult romantic relationships.

After my first exposure to MDMA and DMT , I started to realize the healing benefits of Psychedelics. I am an amateur in this space and look up to people who have broad exposure. You get to start with something, right? Please don’t misuse these substances. They are not for everyone. Please make sure that you are in the “safe environment and container”.

Fast forward—In my interview preparation of Bill, I came across this very old video The CBS “60 Minutes” segment (when psychedelics used to be legal) of him administering DPT to the dying cancer patient or you can say end-of-life psychedelic psychotherapy. This video brought me to tears and I couldn’t wait to ask Bill for his permission to publish this video. This is my small attempt to spread the awareness around psychedelics considering its powerful healing nature.

This video depicts Bill assisting a cancer patient.

Here is a short bio of Bill Richards:

William A. Richards (Bill) is a psychologist in the Psychiatry Department of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Bayview Medical Center, a consultant/trainer at sites of psychedelic research internationally, a teacher in the Program of Psychedelic Therapy and Research at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and also a clinician in private practice in Baltimore. His graduate degrees include M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, S.T.M. from Andover-Newton Theological School and Ph.D. from Catholic University, as well as studies with Abraham Maslow at Brandeis University and with Hanscarl Leuner at Georg-August University in Göttingen, Germany, where his involvement with psilocybin research originated in 1963.

From 1967 to 1977, he pursued psychotherapy research with LSD, DPT, MDA and  psilocybin at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, including protocols designed to investigate the promise of psychedelic substances in the treatment of alcoholism, depression, narcotic addiction and the psychological distress associated with terminal cancer, and also their use in the training of religious and mental-health professionals. From 1977-1981, he was a member of the psychology faculty of Antioch University in Maryland. In 1999 at Johns Hopkins, he and Roland Griffiths launched the rebirth of psilocybin research after a 22 year period of dormancy in the United States. His publications began in 1966 with “Implications of LSD and Experimental Mysticism,” coauthored with Walter Pahnke. His book, Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences was released in English by Columbia University Press in 2015 and has since been translated into 6 additional languages—hopefully more coming.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: These plants and compounds are illegal in many countries, and even possession can carry severe criminal penalties. None of this post constitutes medical advice or should be construed as a recommendation to use psychedelics. There are serious legal, psychological, and physical risks. Psychedelics are not for everyone—they can exacerbate certain emotional problems, and there have been, in very rare cases, fatalities.

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