Insight 20223
August 31 – September 3 in Berlin

Psychedelic Therapeutics: Behind the Scenes

  • 01/09/2023
  • 15:30 - 16:00
  • Room: Rudolf-Virchow (2nd floor)


After decades of difficulty in researching psychedelic substances due to legal restrictions, there is now a growing body of work investigating them as treatments for conditions including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction and eating disorders. In research undertaken at the University of Oxford for my recent master’s degree (MPhil) in medical anthropology, I interviewed clinicians and psychotherapists designing and staffing clinical trials of psychedelics in mental health care.

I wanted to understand how they were conceptualising the action of psychedelics in a medicalised space and how their thinking was connected to treatment design in clinical trials – did they view their work as a purely pharmacological endeavour, particularly given that trials have been situated in a neuropsychiatric research space? Did they see these treatments as psychotherapy with a novel add-on? Both/other? Understanding how those on the front line of the field conceptualise their work is an important part of the wider picture of psychedelic-assisted therapies at this formative stage. In this talk I will unpack my findings, providing a behind-the-scenes snapshot of an emerging medical specialism alongside conclusions suggesting that the structural and social contexts around clinical psychedelic medicine are rich ground for further qualitative study.

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