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J Psychopharmacol. 2015 Jan;29(1):57-68. doi: 10.1177/0269881114555249. Epub 2014 Nov 11.

LSD-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with a life-threatening disease: a qualitative study of acute and sustained subjective effects.

Author information

1
Medical Office for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Solothurn, Switzerland pgasser@gmx.net.
2
Psychologist MSc, Dietikon, Switzerland.
3
Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

A recently published study showed the safety and efficacy of LSD-assisted psychotherapy in patients with anxiety associated with life-threatening diseases. Participants of this study were included in a prospective follow-up.

METHOD:

12 months after finishing LSD psychotherapy, 10 participants were tested for anxiety (STAI) and participated in a semi-structured interview. A Qualitative Content Analysis (QCA) was carried out on the interviews to elaborate about LSD effects and lasting psychological changes.

RESULTS:

None of the participants reported lasting adverse reactions. The significant benefits as measured with the STAI were sustained over a 12-month period. In the QCA participants consistently reported insightful, cathartic and interpersonal experiences, accompanied by a reduction in anxiety (77.8%) and a rise in quality of life (66.7%). Evaluations of subjective experiences suggest facilitated access to emotions, confrontation of previously unknown anxieties, worries, resources and intense emotional peak experiences à la Maslow as major psychological working mechanisms. The experiences created led to a restructuring of the person's emotional trust, situational understanding, habits and world view.

CONCLUSIONS:

LSD administered in a medically supervised psychotherapeutic setting can be safe and generate lasting benefits in patients with a life-threatening disease. Explanatory models for the therapeutic effects of LSD warrant further study.

KEYWORDS:

LSD; hallucinogens; psychedelics; psycho-oncology; psycholytic therapy

PMID:
25389218
DOI:
10.1177/0269881114555249
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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