Psychedelic therapy. Why is it illegal if it is working?

I first read about the therapeutic use of psychoactive substances in one of the books of Andrew Feldmar (Canadian psychologist with Hungarian origin). I find this technique just as interesting as the question why is it illegal if it works. In advance I would like to emphasize that the medical application differs from rehabilitation and social use. When applying medically, the client uses psychedelic substances only according to the treatment plan lead by the therapist, within controlled frames.

Psychoactive substance is a synonym for psychedelic drug. However I prefer using the term “psychoactive substance” because of the negative associations. Psychoactive substances are those natural or synthetic substances which change how the central nervous system operates. Perception, mood, conscious, thinking and behavior are also affected when psychedelics get into the organism. Caffeine, nicotine and other legal drugs are also psychoactive substances, just as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline and MDMA.

Psychoactive substances have mind-expanding effects and cause experiences which really differ from the ordinary state of mind. Psychedelic experience is often compared to trans, meditation or dreaming. The meaning of the Greek word “psychedelic” is “the mind’s manifestation” implying access to the unused potential of human mind. Nowadays the term “psycho integrative” is getting more popular referring to the personality development in which proper use might end. Psychedelic substances do not cause biological dependence or withdrawal symptoms. Overdose does not lead directly to death.

Before its prohibition LSD was successfully applied in treating schizophrenia, alcoholism and depression. It was also utilized on terminal cancer patients who became capable of reframing death by gaining a conforming attitude. MDMA can be successfully used to treat post traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism and anxiety disorders. Just to illustrate the effectiveness: “ordinary” psychotherapy helps in 20% of the cases while LSD involved therapy helps in 90% of the cases.

LSD therapy has two types. In psycholytic LSD therapy the patient is given smaller doses in several sessions during which the psychologist can work with an increased therapeutic potential due to increased access to unconscious content. In psychedelic LSD therapy the client gets one “bigger” dose with the therapist providing his safety and comfort. In the following sessions they work on this specific experience.

“Psychedelic drugs are to psychology what the microscope is to biology or the telescope is to astronomy” – says Feldmar. However most of psychoactive substances are illegal, therefore their therapeutic use (including the training of therapists) and research are also illegal in most countries (although there are ongoing studies in Canada and Israel).

Do not misunderstand. There are techniques in psychology which are used to reach an altered state of consciousness, like hypnosis or the imagination techniques, which are also originated from LSD research. The only question is why do we not use such powerful resources as psychedelics? Andrew Feldmar would answer this question as to if everyone got enlightened after using psychedelics, the current norms of society would not be sustainable anymore. This is why the best interest of current society’s authority is to keep them in an illegal status.

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  1. Jordan says:

    Fantastic blog and fantastic argument!

  2. zsuzsi says:

    Thank you ;)

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