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First LSD tests in decades show terminal patients gained valuable and lasting insights

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Results have been posted online from the first controlled trial of LSD in more than 40 years.

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease published results Tuesday from a Swiss study that tested the effects of the drug as a complement for talk therapy for 12 people nearing their end of life.

Most of the subjects suffered from terminal cancer, and several died within a year of the trial, but researchers said the psychedelic drug apparently eased their fears as they faced the unknown.

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“Their anxiety went down and stayed down,” said Dr. Peter Gasser, who conducted the therapy.

The patients met with Gasser for a couple of sessions before taking LSD at two sessions a couple of weeks apart.

Each session lasted about 10 hours, Gasser said, and the patients were permitted to sleep afterward at the office under the care of a therapist or assistant.

“I told them that each session would be right here, in a safe environment, and I am part of it,’” Gasser told the New York Times. “I said, ‘I can’t guarantee you won’t have intense distress, but I can tell you that if you do, it will pass.’ ”

Many patients wept, and most experienced some discomfort.

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One 67-year-old man said he encountered his long-dead, estranged father during his trip and was granted his nodding approval.

Gasser spoke to them for periods throughout the experience, conducting what he described as patient-centered, open-ended therapy to track the sources of their emotions.

“I had what you would call a mystical experience, I guess, lasting for some time, and the major part was pure distress at all these memories I had successfully forgotten for decades,” said one subject, a 50-year-old Austrian social worker. “These painful feelings, regrets, this fear of death. I remember feeling very cold for a long time. I was shivering, even though I was sweating. It was a mental coldness, I think, a memory of neglect.”

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But he surprised himself by talking about those feelings, which he was unaccustomed to doing.

“It surprised me,” said the subject, Peter. “I didn’t know I was talking away until Dr. Gasser made me notice.”

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The eight participants who received full doses of the drug improved by about 20 percent on standard measures of anxiety after two months of weekly therapy, while the four subjects who took much weaker doses got worse.

Those patients were allowed to try the full dose after the trial ended.

Researchers around the world are trying to bring hallucinogens back under the umbrella of mainstream psychiatry after decades of neglect or outright bans.

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“We want to break these substances out of the mold of the counterculture and bring them back to the lab as part of a psychedelic renaissance,” said Rick Doblin, executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which has financed many of the studies.

Doctors had previously tested LSD for its effect on a variety of conditions, including end-of-life anxiety, before such research was prohibited in 1966.

But psychiatrists have been working in recent years alongside government officials and medical ethics boards to life restrictions on psychedelic research, including Ecstasy-aided therapy for post-traumatic stress.

While Gasser said his trial was too small to be conclusive, he said the results were encouraging.

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His research team found no serious side effects besides temporary periods of distress – which he said was therapeutically valuable to the subjects.

“I will say I have been more emotional since the study ended, and I don’t mean always cheerful,” said Peter. “But I think it’s better to feel things strongly — better to be alive than to merely function.”


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BUSTED: Devin Nunes is hiding how he’s paying for all his frivolous lawsuits — which could land him in more trouble

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On Saturday, the Fresno Bee dived into a lingering question: How does Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) pay for all the lawsuits he is filing against journalists, satirists, and political critics?

"Nunes, R-Tulare, has filed lawsuits against Twitter, anonymous social media users known as Devin Nunes' Cow and Devin Nunes' Mom, a Republican political strategist, media companies, journalists, progressive watchdog groups, a political research firm that worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and a retired farmer in Nunes’ own district," noted the Bee.

These lawsuits were mainly filed in Virginia — a state with very loose laws against so-called "SLAPP suits," or meritless lawsuits intended to drown people in legal expenses in retaliation for expressing political opinions. Nunes was assisted in these suits by Steven Biss, a Virginia attorney, and yet except for the suit against the retired farmer, there is no clear record in Nunes' FEC reports of how he paid for the suits.

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Trump brings up Brett Kavanaugh in rage tweet at Democrats about coming impeachment trial

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On Saturday, President Donald Trump brought up Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in a bizarre rant against the "Radical Left, Do Nothing Dems" and his anger over the direction of the impeachment process:

After watching the disgraceful way that a wonderful man, @BrettKavanaugh, was treated by the Democrats, and now seeing first hand how these same Radical Left, Do Nothing Dems are treating the whole Impeachment Hoax, I understand why so many Dems are voting Republican!

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2020 Election

McConnell bluntly defends working with Trump to undermine impeachment: ‘We’re on the same side’

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Speaking in Kentucky on Friday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blithely blew off concerns about coordinating with Donald Trump's White House on how to handle the president's defense in the expected impeachment trial.

One day after admitting on Fox News that he was working hand-in-hand with the White House on impeachment tactics, McConnell was very blunt about his motivations when asked about his admission.

In a clip shared by MSNBC, the Senate leader was pressed about his plans.

"You told Sean Hannity last night you were coordinating with the White House when it comes to impeachment. Why is that appropriate?" McConnell was asked.

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