Psychedelic Studies Group Launched At Yale University

Psychedelic research is currently experiencing something of a revival. dexterous simpson/Shutterstock

Academics at Yale University have founded a study group focusing on the use of psychedelic substances in the field of psychiatry and psychotherapy. The first meeting of the Yale Psychiatry and Psychedelics Group (YPPG) will take place on January 19, and the third Tuesday of every month thereafter.

The potential of such substances for helping scientists to explore the human mind and treat psychological disorders was first investigated in the 1950s, following the emergence of LSD. Initial theories about how psychedelics worked followed the so-called psychotomimetic model, which held that ingesting these substances induced temporary psychosis, enabling scientists to observe this phenomenon in a controlled way.

This line of investigation was later abandoned when it became apparent that the effects of these substances did not in fact match the effects of psychosis, although some psychotherapists began to report that the use of psychedelic drugs facilitated many types of therapy.

In light of this, some scientists began experimenting with chemicals such as LSD, MDMA, psilocybin (the psychoactive chemical found in hallucinogenic mushrooms), and DMT to treat a number of conditions ranging from anxiety to addiction, yet most of this research ended once these substances were outlawed by most western countries.

Recently, however, psychedelic science has experienced something of a resurgence, with a number of academic institutions receiving permission to conduct trials using psychoactive drugs. For instance, research into the anti-depressant potential of psilocybin is currently underway at Imperial College London, while Swiss scientists recently published a paper on the ability of LSD to help terminal patients overcome death-related anxiety. Elsewhere, trails involving the use of MDMA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder among war veterans are also in the pipeline.

The YPPG has been set up by a collection of residents, fellows, graduate students, clinical practitioners, and faculty members at Yale as a platform to discuss past and ongoing research into psychedelics. Prominent researchers in the field of psychedelics will be invited to talk from around the world, in an attempt to combine and consolidate the expertise of those at the forefront of this exciting area of science.

In establishing the group, the organizers hope to help guide future research into psychedelic substances by critically engaging with key questions about the true effect of these drugs and what clinical implications they may have.

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