Tag: spirituality

Bioethics News

Religious Leaders Get High on Magic Mushroom Ingredient – For Science

July 11, 2017

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A Catholic priest, a Rabbi and a Buddhist walk into a bar and order some magic mushrooms. It may sound like the first line of a bad joke, but this scenario is playing out in one of the first scientific investigations into the effects of psychedelic drugs on religious experience – albeit in a laboratory rather than a bar.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have enlisted two dozen religious leaders from a wide range of denominations, to participate in a study in which they will be given two powerful doses of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.

Dr William Richards, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland who is involved in the work, said: “With psilocybin these profound mystical experiences are quite common. It seemed like a no-brainer that they might be of interest, if not valuable, to clergy.”

… Read More

Image: By Arp – This image is Image Number 6514 at Mushroom Observer, a source for mycological images.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12066335

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Advance Care Planning and End of Life (ACPEL) Conference

The program for the 2017 Advance Care Planning and End of Life (ACPEL) Conference in Banff is now available.


Pre-Conference Sessions (Part 1)
Session 1: CRIO 
1. How do people with disabilities perceive advance care planning – Robin Gray, University of Calgary


2. Differences in survey methodology of two Advance Care Planning survey polls conducted in Alberta, Canada – Sunita Ghosh, Alberta Health Services-CancerControl


3. Efficacy of Advance Care Planning and Goals of Care Designations Discussions: A Randomized Controlled Trial and Video Intervention – Maureen Douglas, University of Alberta
  
4. Identification of indicators to monitor successful implementation of Advance Care Planning policies: a modified Delphi study – Patricia Biondo, University of Calgary

5. The economics of advance care planning, Konrad Fassbender, University of Alberta; Covenant Health

Session 2: Health Care Consent, Advance Care Planning, and Goals of Care: The Challenge to Get It Right in Ontario

Health Care Consent, Advance Care Planning, and Goals of Care: The Challenge to Get It Right in Ontario – Tara Walton, Ontario Palliative Care Network Secretariat

Session 3: How to Invite Clinicians to Initiate ACP

1. How to Invite Clinicians to Initiate ACP to Residents, Patients, and Family Carers? – Luc Deliens  
  
2. Development of a complex intervention to support the initiation of advance care planning by general practitioners in patients at risk of deteriorating or dying: a phase 0-1 study – Aline De Vleminck, Free University of Brussels & Ghent University

Pre-Conference Sessions (Part 2)

Session 1: Faith Based Workshop

Inviting the voice of Spirituality within the conversation of Advanced Care Planning – Thomas Butler, Bon Secours Health System Inc.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

From Harry Potter to Jesus – A transfigurative conference report by Laura Perler

 

Credit: Transcultural Studies, University of St. Gallen

Conference report on the anniversary conference: ‘Transfigurationen: Medizin macht Gesellschaft macht Medizin’, 17-18 February 2017, organised by the working group Medical Anthropology Switzerland of the Swiss Anthropological Association (SEG), Wiener Dialoge der Medizinanthropologie (Vienna Dialogues on Medical Anthropology) and the Work Group Medical Anthropology of the German Anthropological Association (GAA).

As medical anthropologists, we expect to learn about diverse places and people, and topics ranging from birth to death. We might not, however, anticipate hearing repeatedly about Harry Potter and Jesus. Both were named by multiple panellists at the tri-national conference on ‘Transfigurations’ in Basel as key figures in their quest to grasp the conference’s topic. Transfigurations?! Is it the kind of magical transformation from rat to tea cup as described in JK Rowling’s novels, or does it reference the pivotal moment when Jesus was transfigured and became radiant in glory upon a mountain? If it be either of these, what is the connection to medical anthropology? Transfigurations?! Is it just an intellectual phantasm of the conference organisers, bored by transformations and figurations, and inspired by the widely used trans– prefix? Transfigurations?! Or is it in the end just another word for assemblages? Read this conference report and you might be inspired by the diverse interpretations and applications of the term, and perhaps even feel yourself transfigured by transfigurations…

 

Panels

The first panel, ‘Therapeutic landscapes: Pharmaceuticals, commodification and epistemologies’, was chaired by Angelika Wolf (Freie Universität Berlin). Stephan Kloos (Austrian Academy of Sciences) began with his talk on the transfigurations of traditional Asiatic medicine.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Why Addiction Narratives Matter

By Katie Givens Kime
Image courtesy of
Merrimack Repertory Theatre.

“My Higher Power is: Science!” proclaims Sean, a newly recovered alcoholic. “Sean” is the lead character in a comedic play, “The White Chip,” which premiered last year at Merrimac Repertory Theatre outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Written by Sean Daniels, the play dramatizes Daniels’ own near demise from alcoholism, and his experience of recovery. Neuroethics is writ large as the play tells the story of how critically important various addiction etiologies can be for those struggling with alcoholism, or addiction of any sort. In Sean’s case, the etiology is the brain disease model of addiction (BDMA) in a notable combination with the “Higher Power” understanding of 12-step programs, which he credits with saving his life. Behind the curious twists of the play, questions linger: which model of addiction should be presented to those in recovery, when so much conflict exists amongst addiction researchers, clinicians, and recovery care providers? At what point does an effective (potentially life-saving) narrative of addiction etiology supersede the obligation to provide all sides of the controversial matter of addiction modeling?

When Sean “hits bottom,” he has destroyed his career, his marriage, his health, and nearly lost his life while driving drunk. He enters a rehabilitation facility, but struggles with the suggestion that he find a “Higher Power.” Such a practice is reflective of the metaphysical claim central to Alcoholics Anonymous, and every other 12-step program: surrender to a Higher Power of the addict’s understanding, and is perhaps the most significant distinguishing feature separating 12-step methods from other recovery pathways.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

After the Loss of a Patient: Reflection and Connection Through Prose

By Hedy S. Wald

Lean machine of prose, stripped down to the essence, and a power-packed way to care for the caregiver… this was my experience of the 55-word story genre1 at a writing seminar. While I had some experience writing haiku, I was generally accustomed to reflective narratives3 as “story” so was nothing short of surprised when a compact 55-word prose “small jewel”2 about a patient who touched my heart and soul spontaneously emerged onto the paper.  It chilled me to the bone and warmed my heart. I was asked to read it aloud for the attendees – the hush afterward was a moment of sacred silence…

“Honoring Alan” I titled it…Alan I., MD was my patient on the rehab unit, the unit with the “vent” patients where I was the psychology consultant, where I provided supportive counseling.  Was my patient. Yes, he passed. But before that, despite the indignities and ravages of disease, he managed to muster the strength, both mental and physical, to undertake rehab exercises, vent and all.  And sometimes his devoted wife would be singing show tunes as he did so and I was in awe.  On tougher days, amidst the pop and swish sounds of the vent machine, I’d read poetry and see a flicker of brighter light in his eyes.  I may have imagined that, but I don’t think so – his wife told me he liked poetry.  Now, in another space, another time, he still liked poetry – sometimes. Before starting our sessions, I’d pause at his door to collect myself, to be able to enter the room intentionally4 as the combination of serious illness and ventilator posed challenges for a caring practitioner.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Healing, Hate, and Solidarity

By Duncan Maru

“Non-violence is the highest spirituality”  Mahavir, Jain Spiritual Leader

“Lord, make me an instrument of your Peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love.”  St. Francis of Assisi

As a physician, it is my calling to heal. Healing goes far deeper than knowing the right science and prescribing the right medication.  It involves a deep and uncompromising feeling of compassion and love towards our patients.

How might a clinician think about the results of last week? President-elect Trump rose to power with a rhetoric of hate, division, and otherness.  Our country suffers deep income inequality and lack of opportunity. Our citizens suffer from the concentration of power and wealth and the resulting lack of education and opportunity.  Mr. Trump understood people’s anger and channeled it towards hate.  Yet hate is incapable of solving problems.  Believing this election was a referendum on America overcoming hate and fear, my family and I had supported and campaigned for Secretary Clinton…

The results engendered in me deep personal loss and disappointment.  Fear and hate had seemingly won. We would not elect America’s first woman president in time to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Ammendment in 2020.  Whatever his faults on foreign and domestic policy, we would sorely miss President Obama’s grace, his family values, his convictions rooted in spirituality, his commitment to science and rationality, and his ability to provide calm, firm, and compassionate solace in times of national tragedy and uncertainty.  In my heart, I had come to have feelings of hatred towards Mr.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Sonya E. Pritzker’s Living Translation: Language and the Search for Resonance in U.S. Chinese Medicine by Miao Jenny Hua

Living Translation: Language and the Search for Resonance in U.S. Chinese Medicine

by Sonya E. Pritzker

Berghahn Books, 2014, 228 pages

By: Miao Jenny Hua

Chinese medicine names at least five components to the spiritual part of the embodied self, corresponding to each of the five organ-systems. The shen-spirit is associated with the heart, the yi-spirit with the spleen, po with the lungs, zhi with the kidneys and hun with the liver. These are not just technical jargon; each “spirit” has distinct connotations in everyday life. But how does one capture such subtle variations with actionable precision in the context of clinical Chinese medicine in the United States?

This is the kind of daunting question that Sonya Pritzker’s Living Translation addresses with exquisite ethnographic detail. Denying from the start that she is providing a how-to guide on translating Chinese medicine, Pritzker instead portrays the variable ways in which translations are enacted (2). With an eye to the world-making effects of practice inspired by Annemarie Mol (2002), “enact” is a capacious enough verb for Pritzker to capture translation as multiple modes of making lived equivalences. An ongoing process from monographs to conferences, classrooms to clinics, theoretical arguments over translation are never fully settled and clinical remedies in translation are rarely neatly reductive.

In the early twentieth-century, “Chinese medicine” was constituted as a defensive response to the discrediting advances of modern science and biomedicine in China (25). In the 1960s and 1970s, Chinese medicine was swept up as part of the New Age Movement in the United States, eventually achieving widespread institutional recognition as a form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals – September 2016, part one by Aaron Seaman

Welcome to part one of September’s journal post. We start off with a few special issues, which have been highlighted earlier, followed by a great batch of interesting articles for fall reading. Enjoy!

Transcultural Psychiatry – “Practical Anthropology for a Global Public Psychiatry

Medical Anthropology – “Nonsecular Medical Anthropology

New Genetics & Society – “Private, the Public, and the Hybrid in Umbilical Cord Blood Banking

 

Appetite

The traditional food of migrants: Meat, water, and other challenges for dietary advice. An ethnography in Guanajuato, Mexico

Carolyn Smith-Morris

The term “traditional diet” is used variously in public health and nutrition literature to refer to a substantial variety of foodways. Yet it is difficult to draw generalities about dietary tradition for specific ethnic groups. Given the strong association between migration and dietary change, it is particularly important that dietary advice for migrants be both accurate and specific. In this article, I examine the cultural construct of “traditional foods” through mixed method research on diet and foodways among rural farmers in Guanajuato, MX and migrants from this community to other Mexican and U.S. destinations. Findings reveal first, that quantitatively salient terms may contain important variation, and second, that some “traditional” dietary items –like “refresco,” “carne,” and “agua” – may be used in nutritionally contradictory ways between clinicians and Mexican immigrant patients. Specifically, the term “traditional food” in nutritional advice for Mexican migrants may be intended to promote consumption of fresh produce or less meat; but it may also invoke other foods (e.g.,

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Special Issue! Nonsecular Medical Anthropology by Anna Zogas

Ian Whitmarsh and Elizabeth F. S. Roberts have edited a Special Issue of Medical Anthropology called “Nonsecular Medical Anthropology.”  Here is an excerpt from their introduction to the issue, along with the abstracts of its commentary and six articles.  Enjoy!

Nonsecular Medical Anthropology (open access)
Ian Whitmarsh & Elizabeth F. S. Roberts

A nonsecular medical anthropology insists on the ways medicine and science have constituted ‘the secular’ itself through the ‘secular self’—how medical knowing has been used to craft the secular political subject. As James Boon noted, too often in social theory, “religion gets safely tucked away—restricted theoretically to ‘meaning’ rather than power” (1998:245). The authors of the six articles in this special issue ‘untuck’ religiosity from within the norms and numbers of medicine itself, and examine how ‘secular’ medicine has relied on religious traditions to produce political secularity. These articles demonstrate that ‘secular’ medicine relies on religious others whose exclusion bespeaks latent religious commitments of citizenship in the modern political realm of health.

In the past few decades, anthropologists of religion and secularity have provided a vigorous critique of the liberal political subject constituted through the distinction between the secular and the religious (Asad 2003; Mahmood 2005). Meanwhile medical anthropologists have developed tools to examine how medicine constitutes the human. With this special issue, we draw together insights from both these literatures to query the relationship between the secular and health, medicine, and the body.

Gods, Germs, and Petri Dishes: Toward a Nonsecular Medical Anthropology (open access)
Elizabeth F. S. Roberts

This commentary calls on medical anthropology to become programmatically non-secular.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Comprehensive and thorough study of the relationship between attendance at religious services and reduction in mortality

The authors concluded consider that religiousness and spirituality are undervalued in relation to morbidity and mortality, so physicians should take this into account in their patients

The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being”.

Some religious groups say that within a holistic concept of the human person, the unity of body, mind and spirit can affect health, while others go even further by stating that religious practice can influence individual behaviour by modifying its development. However, with respect to mortality and morbidity, this does not appear to be scientifically demonstrated as yet.

Thus, in an article published in 2011 (Explore 7; 234-238, 2011) that analysed meta-analyses performed between 1994 and 2009, evaluating the possible relationship between attendance at religious services and mortality, the authors concluded that in the group who attended religious services, mortality was reduced by 18% compared to non-attendees.

However, some authors question the validity of these studies, arguing that the evidence is often weak due to the poor study methodology and design, so causality between religiousness and decreased mortality cannot be claimed.

In relation to this, last 16 May, a study was published (JAMA 176; 777-785, 2016) that looked at this topic in more depth, trying to avoid some of the shortcomings of previous studies, especially the fact of not having taken into account certain confounding factors.

Data from the study in question

In order to conduct the study, the authors used data from the “Nurses’ Health Study”, which included a large cohort of North American women who attended or did not attend religious services, carefully assessing the so-called confounding factors, such as diet, lifestyle, medical history and race, as well as carrying out long-term follow-up.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.