Will LSD revolutionize psychotherapy? A trip through your brain
Psychedelic drugs tangle perceptions and reveal hidden thoughts and feelings. This could bring about a revolution of psychotherapy – but for that to happen, the drugs first need to discard their poor reputation.
The morning sun is shining through the windows of a hospital room in Basel, Switzerland. Anuschka Roshani is nervous. Her family and friends called her courageous for taking part in this experiment, being 52 and in good health. The investigator hands her a vial filled with a transparent fluid. Neither of the 2 knows if it contains a placebo – or pure LSD, dissolved in alcohol. Either is possible. Over the course of the next hours, Roshani will undertake a journey through her own universe. For science. She closes her eyes, focuses on the music playing from her headphones and breathes deeply, while the substance sets out on its way to her brain.
Roshani took part in a study organized by the pharmacologist Matthias Liechti, as one of the first test subjects in recent scientific experiments investigating LSD.
Already in the 50s, scientists recognized the great potential of psychedelic drugs for treating people with mental health issues. At the time, research on the synthetic drug LSD and on psilocybin, the active component of magic mushrooms, was booming. Psychedelic medicine seemed within reach. Shortly after however, US president Richard Nixon declared a »war on drugs« in response to the excessive drug consumption within the hippie movement.
Now things are moving again. In recent years, some countries have relaxed their strict regulations.
While Anuschka Roshani impatiently waits for the drug to kick in, 80 kilometers away in Zurich, Katrin Preller is working on some brain data. The 35-year-old psychologist wants to find out how psychedelics affect the brain. As the drugs are stigmatized by society, she often struggles to find funds for her studies. »That’s why it’s so important that our research is methodologically sound and does not slip into the esoteric realm.«
Mit Illustrationen von Doğu Kaya für Perspective Daily
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