Walcoff, 65, had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer at 60 and struggled for years with debilitating anxiety. Even on good days, her constant feelings of worry and fear hung in the back of her mind like a dark curtain.
Inside the study area, Walcoff was greeted by two researchers, New York University psychotherapist Jeffrey Guss and New York University psychologist Seema Desai. The three of them sat and talked in the room for half an hour, going over the details of the study and what might happen. Then, Walcoff received a pill. For study purposes, she couldn’t know whether it was a placebo or psilocybin. Walcoff swallowed the pill with a glass of water. Then she lay back on the soft brown couch and covered her eyes with eye shades as she’d been instructed to do.
An Other-Worldly Experience
Within an hour, Walcoff felt feelings of intense panic begin to well up inside her.
“I experienced great anxiety,” she said in the video. “I experienced it as physical pain and then I began to see that it was actually a level of my mind. And underneath that I began to feel great emotional pain.”
She sobbed for hours. Then the pain began to ebb slowly away. As the pain left, Walcoff felt another, much more positive feeling take its place.
“The worst pain and the worst fear and the worst anxiety turned into something that has opened, which is the most precious thing I’ve ever known,” said Walcoff. “And to think I wouldn’t have known it — oh my gosh I can’t believe I wouldn’t have known it. It was a sense, I wish I could put it into words, but a sense of connectedness that runs through all of us.”
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