Psychotomimetic to Mind-Manifesting

The Evolution of Psychedelics in Psychotherapy


  • Klaudia Szczech Ryerson University


Human use of psychedelic substances has been practiced for 5,700 years in social, religious and medicinal applications alike. Early pharmacological study of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and other “classic psychedelics” psilocybin, mescaline, and N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) suggested therapeutic potential for conditions such as anxiety and substance dependence. Additionally, research indicated that psychedelics were neither addictive nor toxic and appeared to produce several positive effects after a single dosing session. Criticisms of methodological shortcomings, alongside cultural stigma and criminalization, ultimately curtailed further scientific investigation of psychedelics in the context of psychotherapy. Despite marked historical hurdles, the recent resurgence of clinical examination involving psychedelics suggests the scientific community has begun to look beyond the stigmatization of such substances, and towards their therapeutic potential. Through a broad examination of early and contemporary clinical trials, this article explores the prospect of psychedelics as psychotherapy in the context of methodological, cultural, and political influences. This analysis outlines the historical evolution of psychedelic clinical investigation, with the aim of presenting the warranted and unbiased study of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy in light of current public health demands.


Keywords: psychedelic research, psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, controlled clinical trials, cultural stigma, substance criminalization