Palliadelics: The Dignity of Good Dying
People have discussed the idea of ‘good living’ concerning certain practices from Andean communities for some time. But few people discuss ‘good dying’. Both notions stem from a universal aspiration: having a dignified life also means having a dignified death. Can psychoactive substances help us achieve this goal? This is what some specialists believe, who have found that certain plants can provide psychospiritual well-being and helps patients in the final stages of life.
In the fourth episode of the second season of ‘Jardines y Laberintos’, we talked about these issues with Jaime Andrés Vinasco, a nurse, master in Cultures and Drugs, and doctor in Social Sciences. In 2019, he and his partner founded the Conciencia Viba Foundation, which serves around 500 people yearly. The philosophy of this care center specifically focuses on the idea of ‘good dying’.
For Vinasco, “discussing good dying means, among other things, restoring the naturalness of the dying process. It means addressing the topic of death in different social, family, and human contexts as a natural event.” The team of professionals he leads accompanies the person in the last moments of life and their relatives in a process that mainly seeks psychospiritual well-being.
As our guest explains, “in recent years, we have made important advances in caring for people at the end of life. However, those care approaches are in some way partial and narrow-minded because we have focused on the biological body of the human being and neglected the psychospiritual aspect, which is perhaps the most important when there is little or nothing to do with the physical body. The Conciencia VIBA Foundation supports the dying population by addressing psychological anxieties.”
This support mainly relies on ‘palliadelics’: that is, psychoactive substances that allow for “mitigating the suffering and anxieties that are characteristic of the end of life.” For Vinasco, the ambiguous legal status of these substances is undoubtedly a problem. However, he believes it is necessary to promote people’s freedom to choose the treatments or interventions they want throughout their life, illness, or even the dying process.
“Currently, society makes a big mistake thinking that we are experimenting by legalizing drugs or regulating them,” he says. “We must understand that the mistake was prohibiting them. These substances have existed for millennia in societies and what we did 100 years ago was a failed experiment banning them.”