Psychedelic drug therapy in psychiatry

by Dr Ben Sessa


Last updated: February 2019


What are psychedelic drugs? Are they simply drugs of abuse? Can they be used to treat patients with unremitting mental health problems? Can they assist us in our study of human consciousness and the physiology of the brain? Or could they be considered sacramental tools used by non-Western cultures for spiritual value?


Psychedelics have a controversial history and the subject has always been divisive. This module will look objectively and scientifically at the relative risks and benefits of psychedelic drugs in order to:

  • explore their complex psychopharmacology


  • provide a brief review of the history of psychedelic drug therapy in psychiatry and a discussion about its possible future


  • appreciate the role psychedelics have played in cultural development.

We will look at the development of these drugs within the profession of psychiatry, including:

  • their meteoric rise in the 1950s


  • their fall in the 1960s


  • the hiatus of the last 40 years


  • the re-emergence of interest in psychedelics in recent years.


Start the module


If you like this module, you may also be interested in:


Post-traumatic stress disorder by Professor Jonathan Bisson


Stimulants: epidemiology and impact on mental health by Professor Fabrizio Schifano and Dr Antonio Albanese


Stimulants: treatment approaches and organising services by Professor Fabrizio Schifano and Dr Antonio Albanese




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