A New Understanding explores the treatment of end-of-life anxiety in terminally ill cancer patients using psilocybin, a psychoactive compound found in some mushrooms, to facilitate deeply spiritual experiences. The documentary explores the confluence of science and spirituality in the first psychedelic research studies with terminally ill patients since the 1970s.
The recent resurgence of psychedelic research is once again revealing the power of compounds like psilocybin to profoundly alter our understanding of both life and death. As a society we devote a great deal of attention to treating cancer, but very little to treating the human being who is dying of cancer.
Through the eyes of patients, their loved ones, therapists and researchers A New Understanding examines the use of psilocybin in a controlled setting to reduce psychospiritual anxiety, depression, and physical pain. The treatment aims to help the patient understand that a 'good' death is possible, and to help the patient's family deal well with the dying process.
A New Understanding shows patients and their families coming to terms with dying through the skillful treatment of the whole human being. If we can learn to work more skillfully with dying, we will also learn to take better care of life.
"A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin puts an original face on psychedelics. Not the typical faces in the media of delusional drop-outs associated with drugs, but the faces of normal Americans, some suffering from the final stages of terminal cancer. After one dose of psilocybin the face of joy, relief and peace is nothing short of miraculous. A medical mystical miracle is in our midst, and this film beautifully describes the facts! Bravo to Robert Barnhart and all the production team, the courageous chemists, doctors and patients who are helping our society re-evaluate Psilocybin as a medicine for the Soul." ~Alex Grey