At the completion of my client’s third ketamine-assisted-psychotherapy session recently, he shared that his experience with the medicine that day made him less fearful of dying. It was one of the sources of his generalized anxiety-a constant awareness of his aging body and changes in functional ability was making his ultimate end point clearer. The feeling of lightness or, “like floating in space,” that he described, along with a sense of peace and contentment, mimicked what he expected the final moments of life might be like.
“In a new study in Consciousness and Cognition, Tagliazucchi and his colleagues tried to determine which psychedelic drug most closely resembles an NDE (near death experience). They looked at more than 15,000 reports of experiences with 165 psychoactive substances, compared them to 625 descriptions of NDEs, then used algorithms to detect similarities in the topics mentioned by both groups.
They found that while psychedelics like mushrooms and LSD are up there in how close they mirror NDEs, they didn’t come in first place. Instead, it was ketamine that ranked the highest, followed by the plant Salvia divinorum.
Ketamine has been used for decades as an anesthetic, but it’s also used recreationally, and known for being “dissociative,” Tagliazucchi tells me.
“It can generate a sense of detachment from the body and the self and, at higher doses, a full-blown dissociative experience (‘k-hole’), which shares many features with NDEs, such as the feeling of being outside the boundaries of the body and navigating a vast space, feelings of bliss and euphoria, moving towards a light, presence of an invisible and irreversible threshold, and so on,” he says.”
While many seekers of ketamine-assisted-psychotherapy may be looking for the full blown psychedelic mystical experience, particularly individuals who have had previous psychedelic experiences, there is much benefit that can come from lower so-called “psycholitic” doses. At low doses, ketamine commonly provides the user with a peaceful, somewhat meditative experience, coupled with that sense of detachment from self, providing a shift in perspective that many be uncommon.
Given the softening that can occur around death fear, it seems that ketamine is a very promising medicine to help those struggling with anxiety around terminal illness and at end of life. Whole Senior Care hopes to soon be offering ketamine-assisted-psychotherapy to individuals in this category. Stay tuned for more information!
To learn more about ketamine-assisted-psychotherapy services at The Ko-op in Philadelphia, click here: https://psychedelictherapists.co