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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 336-342

Repression of death consciousness and the psychedelic trip

Department of Clinical Neuroscience and ACRO, Dr. Balabhai Nanavati Hospital, S. V. Road, Vile Parle, Mumbai, India

Correspondence Address:
Varsha Dutta
Department of Clinical Neuroscience and ACRO, Dr. Balabhai Nanavati Hospital, S. V. Road, Vile Parle, Mumbai
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0973-1482.103509

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Death is our most repressed consciousness, it inheres our condition as the primordial fear. Perhaps it was necessary that this angst be repressed in man or he would be hurled against the dark forces of nature. Modern ethos was built on this edifice, where the 'denial of death' while 'embracing one's symbolic immortality' would be worshipped, so this ideology simply overturned and repressed looking into the morass of the inevitable when it finally announced itself. Once this slowly pieced its way into all of life, 'death' would soon become a terminology in medicine too and assert its position, by giving a push to those directly dealing with the dying to shy away from its emotional and spiritual affliction. The need to put off death and prolong one's life would become ever more urgent. Research using psychedelics on the terminally ill which had begun in the 1950s and 1960s would coerce into another realm and alter the face of medicine; but the aggression with which it forced itself in the 1960s would soon be politically maimed, and what remained would be sporadic outpours that trickled its way from European labs and underground boot camps. Now, with the curtain rising, the question has etched itself again, about the use of psychedelic drugs in medicine, particularly psychedelic psychotherapy with the terminally ill. This study is an attempt to philosophically explore death anxiety from its existential context and how something that is innate in our condition cannot be therapeutically cured. Psychedelic use was immutably linked with ancient cultures and only recently has it seen its scientific revival, from which a scientific culture grew around psychedelic therapy. How much of what was threaded in the ritual and spiritual mores can be extricated and be interpreted in our own mechanized language of medicine is the question that nudges many.

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