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Attitudes towards the healing powers of psychedelics seem to be changing, says Tom Shroder, the author of a new book on the subject. And, according to some researchers, their incredible efficacy is due to their ability to unleash the mind’s own “innate healing intelligence”.
The award winning journalist and ex-editor of The Washington Post Magazine spoke to The Eternities podcast about his latest work, Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy and the Power to Heal, which looks at the history of psychedelic therapy from the fifties to the present day.
He said, “Our system, as biased as it might have been against psychedelics, certainly was based on [a] belief that science could prove something, and science [has been] proving the efficacy of these drugs … in clinical conditions. They’re plenty safe enough. In fact, they’re much safer than most other drugs used in psychiatry. So, you can’t argue with the science.”
One of the three main figures in the book is Dr Michael Mithoefer, a psychiatrist at the forefront of psychedelic therapy research.… Read the rest
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New research on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in soldiers challenges popular assumptions about the origins and trajectory of PTSD, providing evidence that traumatic experiences in childhood – not combat – may predict which soldiers develop the disorder.
Psychological scientist Dorthe Berntsen of Aarhus University in Denmark and a team of Danish and American researchers wanted to understand why some soldiers develop PTSD but others don’t. They also wanted to develop a clearer understanding of how the symptoms of the disorder progress.
Tom Shroder, author of Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal, tells the story of Nick, a veteran haunted by PTSD in an interview with The Daily Beast in which he relates why psychedelics are so important to veterans, and the roadblocks researchers face getting it to them:
… Read the rest
LSD, an illicit drug with a serious stigma, was once the darling of the psychotherapy world.
Synthesized by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in 1938, the two decades following its birth were populated with study after study showing positive effects. With its ability to reduce defensiveness, help users relive early experiences, and make unconscious material accessible, it proved tremendously successful in therapy.
In a plethora of studies from the 1950s, researchers found the drug, and other psychedelics in its family, to be successful in treating victims of psychosomatic illnesses ranging from depression to addiction. With fear and hesitation stripped away, psychologists could help their patients dive headfirst into a painful memory, feeling, or thought, and work through it.
The administration of oral THC mitigates symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), according to clinical trial data published online ahead of print in the journal Clinical Drug Investigation.
Investigators at the Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem assessed the safety and efficacy of oral THC as an adjunct treatment in ten subjects with chronic PTSD.
Researchers reported, “The intervention caused a statistically significant improvement in global symptom severity, sleep quality, frequency of nightmares, and PTSD hyperarousal symptoms.”
They concluded, “Orally absorbable delta-9-THC was safe and well tolerated by patients with chronic PTSD.”
Separate clinical trial data has previously reported that the administration of nabilone, a synthetic endocannabinoid agonist, can reduce the severity and frequency of nightmares in patients with PTSD.
…and to make you a happy worker. Patrick Tucker writes at the Atlantic:
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How well can you predict your next mood swing? How well can anyone? It’s an existential dilemma for many of us but for the military, the ability to treat anxiety, depression, memory loss and the symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder has become one of the most important battles of the post-war period.
Now the Pentagon is developing a new, innovative brain chip to treat PTSD in soldiers and veterans that could bring sweeping new changes to the way depression and anxiety is treated for millions of Americans.
With $12 million (and the potential for $26 million more if benchmarks are met), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, wants to reach deep into your brain’s soft tissue to record, predict and possibly treat anxiety, depression and other maladies of mood and mind. Teams from the University of California at San Francisco, Lawrence Livermore National Lab and Medtronic will use the money to create a cybernetic implant with electrodes extending into the brain.
Ofer Zur, Ph.D., writes:
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The psychology of victims and the dynamics of victimhood have been largely ignored by scholars and clinicians. While in past years the tendency has been to blame victims, more recently the tide has turned. It is now politically incorrect to explore the role of victims in violent systems, as exploring the psychology of victims has become synonymous with blaming the victim. While shying away from blame, this article will explore the familial and cultural origins of victimhood, victims’ characteristics, their relationships with the perpetrators, and offer a victim typology. As we move from blame to a more complex understanding of violent systems, the perpetuation of these systems in our culture, and the role victims play in these systems, we provide ourselves with better tools to predict and prevent further victimization.
This paper inquires into the rarely explored, politically sensitive topic of the nature of victimhood.
The unstoppable marijuana train rolls on, thanks to Rick Doblin and MAPS. From AllGov:
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For those conducting studies of the harmful effects of marijuana, the federal government has usually been willing to share from its stash, which comes from the only federally sanctioned pot farm in the country. But those looking to find positive uses for the drug have always found Uncle Sam to be bogarting his joint.
Until now. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has finally approved the sale of federally grown marijuana for a study that would research whether pot could help veterans cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The Food and Drug Administration approved the study back in 2011, but University of Arizona Professor Suzanne Sisley, who will conduct the study, and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which is funding it, were unable to get marijuana.
“MAPS has been working for over 22 years to start marijuana drug development research, and this is the first time we’ve been granted permission to purchase marijuana from [the National Institute on Drug Abuse],” the group said in a statement.
The Wall Street Journal on a forced frontal lobotomy as a grim cure for the horrors of war:
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The orderlies at the veterans hospital pinned Roman Tritz, a World War II bomber pilot, to the floor, he recalls. He fought so hard that eventually they gave up. But the orderlies came for him again on Wednesday, July 1, 1953, a few weeks before his 30th birthday. This time, the doctors got their way.
The U.S. government lobotomized roughly 2,000 mentally ill veterans—and likely hundreds more—during and after World War II, according to a cache of forgotten memos, letters and government reports unearthed by The Wall Street Journal. Besieged by psychologically damaged troops returning from the battlefields of North Africa, Europe and the Pacific, the Veterans Administration performed the brain-altering operation on former servicemen it diagnosed as depressives, psychotics and schizophrenics, and occasionally on people identified as homosexuals.
The VA’s practice sometimes brought veterans relief from their inner demons.
As you’re probably aware, elephants are extremely intelligent creatures that develop deep social bonds within their herds. Researchers looking into the effects of herd culls have identified signs of PTSD among the calves who survive.
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Wildlife officials in South Africa have used culling to manage elephant populations since the 1960s. The environmental benefit is clear: too many of these huge, hungry animals could quickly eat, trample and uproot the vegetation in a fenced nature reserve. To prevent such habitat destruction, managers have historically rounded up the big beasts with a helicopter and had professional hunters on the ground kill some adults. The young elephants are then shipped to other parks.
Previous studies have shown that young elephants that live through such events grew up with a version of PTSD, delaying their development and making them unusually scared or aggressive. The elephants in this study had experienced even more extreme distress, however, as one of the researchers, Joyce Poole, told National Geographic,
“These calves watched as their mothers and other family members were killed and butchered.