There are hundreds of plants and fungi species that exist that have compounds which alter human consciousness, perception and the way the mind works. We call them psychoactive. When certain psychedelics are combined with certain types of psychotherapy, we can help people suffering from a wide range of mental health problems. This psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is exciting because it promises to revolutionize the treatment of mental health disorders. We are truly on the cusp of a revolution in mental health.
The key here is JOINT APPROACH. Psychedelics, when taken by themselves, with no treatment plan, no coordination of psychotherapy (or the wrong psychotherapy), lack effectiveness and carry more risk. Not all psychedelics are the same, nor are they all created equal. It is important to understand these differences if we truly want to capitalize on the promise that psychedelics hold.
Where We’ve Been
Psychedelics have been in use for at least 10,000 years across many cultures, for both recreational and ceremonial purposes. Literature detailing the effects of psychedelics started appearing about 500 years ago. The term “psychedelic,” though, was coined in the 1950s by Humphry Osmond, a British psychologist who was looking for ways to treat alcoholism. Though psychedelics have been around for eons, the use of them really took off in the 1940s and 1950s after many psychedelic compounds were extracted or synthesized. You might know some of these as LSD or psilocybin.
Psychedelics in Music, Art, and Literature
Salvador Dali, an artist in the Surrealist movement, often depicts objects dissolving and transforming from one thing into another. His work was so impactful that Walt Disney tried to work with him to create an animated movie, which ended up not panning out. Dali was a rare artist who could capture the feeling of an altered mental state, though many artists have tried to convey their experiences.
Art can be used to express emotions, but there are limitations to how well an artist can translate their mental state to the canvas. Visual art is a window into the mind, but the viewer can never really be sure what they are seeing through that window.
Musicians, as well, have tried to capture altered mental states. I’d like to think that the Beatles’ song “Come Together” was written about psychedelic use, but it was written for someone who promoted psychedelic use. John Lennon originally wrote “Come Together” as a political campaign song for Timothy Leary to run as governor of California against Ronald Reagan. Leary was a 1960s psychologist who actively promoted the beneﬁts of psychedelics, particularly dropping (taking) LSD. His famous phrase related to this was, “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”
Writers, too, have attempted to describe altered mental states in literature. Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, has examples of micropsia and macropsia–the sensation of things growing smaller or larger, which can occur with the use of psychedelics. While we don’t have evidence that Carroll used psychedelics, he did somehow manage to capture a very trippy experience in his book!
Where We’re Going
There are over 1,000 potential compounds, but most of them pose too many risks, or unknown risks, and have unproven benefits. However, there are a few that I believe make the cut and can be considered for use in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. I call them Wannabes, Contenders and Champions. My book, The Promise of Psychedelics (Ingenium Books, April 2022) dives deeper into each of these categories.
The revolution is well under way, thanks to the serious and careful research being undertaken by academic research centres such as The NYU Langone Center for Psychedelic Medicine, The Department of Psychiatry at the Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute and Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, among others.
There are three compounds, though not without risks, that hold the most promise, combined with the appropriate psychotherapy, for the millions of people living with mental health conditions.
There are over 1,000 potential compounds, but most of them pose too many risks, or unknown risks, and have unproven benefits. However, there are a few that I believe make the cut and can be considered for use in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. I call them Wannabes, Contenders and Champions. My book, The Promise of Psychedelics (Ingenium Books, April 2022) dives deeper into each of these categories. One psychedelic treatment contender will be familiar to anyone that has been paying attention to the rise of cannabinoids in everyday products like muscle cream and pet treatments – CBD. It’s not just for your dog’s aches and pains. It’s also a powerful contender for the treatment of mental health disorders. Pre-order your copy now. https://ingeniumbooks.com/0ugf