The Therapy Part of Psychedelic Therapy Is a Mess


From WIRED: “Interested in giving psychedelic therapy a go? It will probably look something like this: In a room of muted colors, you’ll swallow a dose of a psychedelic drug, then lie back on a futon. Gentle music will play in the background; maybe some Brian Eno. You won’t be alone: One or two therapists will be readily by your side, guiding and prompting you through a session that will last up to eight hours.

This is the model that features in the majority of the scientific research looking at the potential of psychedelic drugs, like psilocybin or MDMA, to treat ‘mental illnesses’ such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In the field, it’s long been taken as fact that the skills of a trained therapist are necessary to support tripping patients, both to ensure safety and to maximize the treatment’s therapeutic potential. But a new opinion piece in JAMA Psychiatry warns that beneath the hype, the therapy component of psychedelic-assisted therapy isn’t being studied enough—and could pose a risk to patients.”

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  1. If “whatever you have” involves significant amounts of perceptual distortions, psychedelic therapy is not for you, as Hoffer and Osmond found out while doing psychedelic therapy with alcoholics in the early 1960’s. (I notice no attention is ever paid to them, though theirs was one of the earliest excursions into psychedelic therapy, perhaps because of their promotion of megavitamin therapy for psychoses at around the same time).

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