Behavioral Aspects

Psychedelic Drug Therapies

Two Theories

After the psychedelic effects of LSD-25 were discovered by A. Hofmann in 1938, the drug immediately began to receive attention as a psychiatric tool, which could be used in a therapeutic way. The use of LSD in psychotherapy is based on the following effects of LSD.

LSD inebriation has the capability to cause the patient to rediscover long forgotten or suppressed experiences. These experiences, often traumatic, can then be dealt with through psychotherapeutic treatment. Under the influence of LSD, the patient does not simply recollect the experience, but in fact re-lives the experience, thus giving the psychiatrist a better understanding of the traumatic event.

The other result of LSD inebriation is that the patient's accustomed view of reality disintegrates. A rapport with the doctor can be better established because the doctor has specific knowledge and experience of what the patient is going through. The I-you barrier is broken down and the patient becomes more suggestible to the ideas of the doctor. Of course, the doctor must have performed self-examinations before hand, to gain insight into the world of LSD and in this way can more accurately understand and interpret the reactions of their patients.

Also, large doses of LSD can result in a mystical-religious, life determining experience.

From these observed behavioral effects of LSD Two forms of lysergic acid diethylamide therapy emerged.

Psychedelic Therapy

Psychedelic Therapy involved a one-time session, in which the patient was given a very large dose of LSD (200 ug or more). This treatment relied on the mystical or conversion shock experiences that LSD can provide. These experiences have the effect of giving the patient a place to start over from and, if followed by psychotherapeutic treatment, can promote large scale life changes. It was believed that this form of treatment might help to reform alcoholics and criminals.

Psycholytic Therapy

In contrast to psychedelic therapy, psycholytic therapy required relatively small doses (less than 150ug) to be given at regular sessions. This technique was mainly for neurotic and psychosomatic disorders. In the psycholytic procedure, patients may be hospitalized or not; they may be asked to concentrate on interpretation of the drug-induced visions, on symbolic psychodrama, on regression with the psychotherapist as a parent surrogate, or on discharge of tension in physical activity. Props such as eye shades, photographs, and objects with symbolic significance are often used. Music often plays an important part. The theoretical basis of this kind of psychotherapy is usually some form of psychoanalysis. (Grinspoon, Bakalar)

These two treatments are in complete opposition to the tranquilizer-type approach to psychotherapy. Tranquilizers tend to cover up the underling problems of the patients, reducing their importance. LSD however, serves to magnify problems, making them more intensely experienced. It is believed that through this magnification process, both doctor and patient will be better able to recognize conflicts and therefore, psychotherapy can be more effective.

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