The research center, with $17 million from donors, aims to give “psychedelic medicine” a long-sought foothold in the scientific establishment.
Since childhood, Rachael Petersen had lived with an unexplainable sense of grief that no drug or talk therapy could entirely ease. So in 2017 she volunteered for a small clinical trial at Johns Hopkins University that was testing psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, for chronic depression.
“I was so depressed,” Ms. Petersen, 29, said recently. “I felt that the world had abandoned me, that I’d lost the right to exist on this planet. Really, it was like my thoughts were so stuck, I felt isolated.”
The prospect of tripping for hours on a heavy dose of psychedelics was scary, she said, but the reality was profoundly different: “I experienced this kind of unity, of resonant love, the sense that I’m not alone anymore, that there was this thing holding me that was bigger than my grief. I felt welcomed back to the world.”