Baltimore psychologist pioneers team using psychedelics as ‘sacred’ medicine


Baltimore psychologist pioneers team using psychedelics as ‘sacred’ medicine

13 January 2016

By Baynard Woods

Baltimore is known to many as the heroin capital of the US. If William Richards has anything to do with it, it may also become the nation’s most psychedelic city.

For the past 15 years, a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine program co-founded by Richards has dosed hundreds of people with a variety of psychedelic drugs. Richards, who specializes in the psychology of religion, sees the “sacred molecules” in such chemicals as nothing more than keys to what is already in the brain.

The drug most often and reliably used in his program is psilocybin. Found in magic mushrooms, it induces mystical experiences. It has shown promising results in treating conditions from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to addiction, and may be able to improve the lives and spiritual practices of otherwise healthy people.

Richards, who began studying psychedelics in Germany in 1963, is convinced such drugs can transform people’s lives for the better. Instead of using the term “psychedelic drugs”, he calls chemicals such as LSD and psilocybin “entheogens”, which means “generating god within”.

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