Decades ago MDMA and LSD entered the therapeutic setting and already then showed their therapeutic potential in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Since thousands of years another psychedelic, ayahuasca, is being used by tribes in the western Amazonia for healing and divination, and in recent years its use has expanded worldwide.
Research into the therapeutic potential of these substances has re-emerged and (preliminary) findings are promising. Depression and anxiety disorders are amongst the disorders of focus. Since both are characterized by cognitive rigidity and disturbed empathy our aim was to investigate whether psychedelics can change and improve this behavior acutely and with a longer duration. To that end, we conducted a series of studies assessing the acute and longer-term effects of ayahuasca and psilocybin on creative thinking and empathy in both a naturalistic and an experimental setting.
Findings from these studies will be presented and implications for future therapeutic applications discussed.