AFTERWORD : THE PSYCHEDELIC RESEARCH RENAISSANCE — A REVIEW OF RECENT PSYCHEDELIC PSYCHOTHERAPY RESEARCH
L. Jerome, Ph.D., Valerie Mojeiko, Rick Doblin, Ph.D.
in “LSD Psychotherapy“, Dr Stanislav Grof, 1980, 1994, 2001, 2008, 361-373
MAPS, Ben Lomond, CA, USA
It is now 2008, and this is the fourth time that LSD Psychotherapy by Dr. Stanislav Grof has gone to press. Since the third edition was published seven years ago, more progress has been made in the field of psychedelic therapy than in the previous twenty-one years since its original publication. There are currently patients being treated around the globe with psilocybin, MDMA, ibogaine, and soon LSD, as part of legitimate “above-ground” research investigations. The renewal of LSD-assisted psychotherapy research marks the culmination of the initial period of the renaissance of psychedelic research. Indeed, LSD is perhaps the most controversial of all the psychedelics due to its widespread non-medical use in the 1960s and its association with political protest groups, most notably the anti-Vietnam War movement.
This afterward aims to summarize the tremendous accomplishments that have enabled the pioneering research of Dr. Grof and many others to return to the laboratory in mainstream Western society. Three American organizations have been instrumental in sponsoring and funding the resurgence of research: the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS; www.maps.org) (the publisher of this book), the Heffter Research Institute (HRI; www.heffter.org), and the Council on Spiritual Practices (www.csp.org). All three organizations are located and sponsor research in the United States. MAPS also sponsors research in Europe, Israel, Canada, and Mexico, and HRI sponsors research in Switzerland. In Switzerland, the Swiss Association for Psycholytic Therapy (SAePT) has also played over the years, and continues to play, a role in keeping the torch burning and in co-sponsoring research.
After thousands of psychedelic research studies were conducted from the 1940s to the late 1960’s, nearly all human studies of LSD, psilocybin, and other psychedelics ceased in 1972 in the US and around the world as a result of political suppression.
However, after almost twenty-years of hiatus, with the approval of a new generation of regulators, a new generation of researchers began cautiously studying psychedelic drugs and MDMA in the context of research into the correlates of consciousness and basic psychopharmacology, and the potential of these substances as psychotherapeutic agents. Kicking off this new paradigm in 1990, Dr. Rick Strassman investigated the physiological and subjective effects of N,N-5,5-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), assessing subjective and physiological effects after injections of up to 0.4 mg/kg DMT (Strassman 1994; Strassman 1996; Strassman and Qualls 1994).
There are currently seven basic areas of clinical research into the uses of psychedelics that will be discussed in more detail below:
1) Psychedelic (psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with anxiety associated with end-of-life issues
2) Psilocybin in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD),
3) LSD, lysergic acid amide (LSA), and psilocybin in the treatment of cluster headaches (CH),
4) Psilocybin in catalyzing spiritual experiences,
5) MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
6) Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy and ibogaine use in the treatment of alcoholism and opiate dependence
7) Basic scientific studies with various psychedelics
Many of the psychotherapy studies described below involve psychotherapy that is either directly based upon or borrows elements from the psychotherapeutic methods of Dr. Grof. These elements include: performing therapy in a setting specifically designed for comfort and introspection, treatment by a male/female pair of cotherapists, the use of musical programs, and encouraging patients to confront whatever feelings arise while the therapists serve as supportive guides in the experience.
Even when not seeking to replicate Grof’s techniques, people studying psychedelicassisted psychotherapy have been influenced by the LSD-assisted psychotherapy performed by Dr. Grof.