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Something Old, Something NewContemporary Entanglements of Religion and Secularity$
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Wayne Glausser

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190864170

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190864170.001.0001

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Psychedelic Last Rites

Psychedelic Last Rites

Chapter:
(p.149) Chapter 7 Psychedelic Last Rites
Source:
Something Old, Something New
Author(s):

Wayne Glausser

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190864170.003.0007

This final chapter compares the Catholic sacrament of extreme unction with modern experiments in psychedelic therapy for the dying. Extreme unction has an unusual history within Christianity: Catholics embrace it as a last, crucial fortification of the soul that prepares someone for heaven, but Protestants, going back to Calvin, view it as a fraudulent mystification. Secular scientists have come up with something comparable to the old sacrament. Beginning in the 1960s, and resuming very recently, psychiatrists have experimented with LSD and psilocybin in an attempt to help patients with terminal cancer overcome anxiety and depression. This chapter explores all facets of the psychedelic “sacrament” as it entangles with extreme unction. The new therapy shares both the high purposes of the old last rites and some of the problems that have surrounded it.

Keywords:   extreme unction, anointing, last rites, psychedelic therapy, LSD, psilocybin

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