The psychedelic renaissance is upon us. After decades of delay, psychedelic medicines are now poised to reenter mainstream psychiatry.
Dr. George Greer, a psychiatrist and President of the Heffter Research Institute, recently told me on my program, "FDA now treats psychedelics like any other drug in terms of science and safety."
Over the past 30 years, Heffter—under Greer’s direction—has pioneered some of the earliest studies showing psychedelics' promise. Here are just a few of their remarkable findings:
Psilocybin eases depression and addiction.
MDMA aids therapy for PTSD, anxiety, and relationships.
Ketamine helps with treatment-resistant severe depression.
By facilitating new connections, it seems that psychedelics enable lasting change with the help of the right therapy.
However, we can't forget their risks, and we must proceed with caution. Greer reminds us that psychedelics are not wonder drugs, but catalysts requiring real work to yield benefit.
Furthermore, psychedelics require responsible oversight. When administered properly under medical guidance, in conjunction with therapy, psychedelics can offer insights that lead to lasting benefits. With science and sanity guiding efforts at legalization, psychedelics may still realize their potential. Without safeguards like screening, preparation and integration, however, these experiences can lead to harm.
That is why we are currently looking for first-hand accounts of adverse effects of psychedelics—from ‘bad trips,’ to unwanted physiological complications, to abusive practices by guides, therapists, and shamans.
The interviews from this series will go into a forthcoming book on the topic—perhaps the first book its kind.
Please contact me if you would like to be interviewed.
Dr. Richard L. Miller
Dr. George Greer talks about the most interesting and important thing happening in the psychedelic world right now: the Bipartisan Congressional Psychedelics Advancing Therapies (PATH) Caucus. This caucus aims to pass legislation for a carve-out from the NIH budget to support psychedelic research. (03:46)
Dr. Greer shares his pioneering research on MDMA-assisted couples therapy, which yielded insights and strengthened relationships with minimal side-effects. (07:00)
Dr. Greer emphasizes the importance of mindset, setting, and therapy in achieving positive outcomes from psychedelic experiences. (12:30)
Dr. Greer explains the difference between psychedelic and psycholytic therapy. (12:30)
Dr. Greer talks about the risks and benefits of using psychedelics as a catalyst for growth and healing. (12:30)
Dr. Greer stresses the importance of responsible use of psychedelics, including screening, preparation, and integration, to minimize harm and maximize benefit. (12:30)
Dr. Greer talks about the potential unwanted psychological complications of psychedelic therapy, including psychosis and trauma. (12:30)
Dr. Greer discusses the challenges of funding psychedelic research and the need for responsible guidance to realize the promise of this field. (12:30)
Links and Resources
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The Rise and Fall of Early MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy
During the late 1970s, the synthetic compound known as MDMA began to be used for therapeutic purposes. This therapy occupied a legal gray area, largely flying under the radar of Federal and state regulation for a time.
A young psychiatrist at the time, Dr. Greer conducted pioneering research on MDMA-assisted couples therapy. He found MDMA yielded insight and strengthened relationships with minimal side effects. In over 100 sessions, couples reported increased intimacy lasting months afterward.
However, in 1985 MDMA was made illegal, ending most research and use. Overnight, the promise of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy dissolved, and has languished for decades.
Research was scarce until the 1990s.
"FDA just said ‘No, no, no, no, no’ to every proposal to study psychedelics," Greer told me.