Can drugs be used to enhance
the psychotherapeutic process?

Grinspoon L, Bakalar JB
Am J Psychother 1986 Jul; 40(3):393-404


Many preindustrial cultures traditionally use certain psychedelic plants to enhance a procedure that resembles psychotherapy--an idea that was also tested in Western psychiatry in the 1950s and 1960s. LSD and related drugs were used to facilitate the production of memories, fantasies and insights and to enhance the therapeutic alliance. The results were inconclusive, and research was largely abandoned after the drugs became difficult to obtain. It may now be possible to revive this research, using new drugs that do not have some of the disadvantages of the old ones. The drug now of most interest is MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) a relatively mild and short-acting substance that is said to give a heightened capacity for introspection and intimacy without the perceptual changes, emotional unpredictability, and occasional adverse reactions associated with LSD. Therapists who have used the drug claim that it can enhance the therapeutic alliance by inviting self-disclosure and promoting trust. Whether MDMA fulfills this promise or not, other drugs may eventually prove useful in psychotherapy. Research on their potential should not be curtailed because of fear that they will be subject to illicit abuse.

MDMA method
Protect and survive
MDMA at a clinical crossroads
Entactogens, empathogens and therapy

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