Transpersonal psychotherapy

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An overview of Transpersonal Psychotherapy and Research

Transcript of Transpersonal psychotherapy

  • 1. Transpersonal Psychotherapy, Induced Mystical Experiences, and Treatment of Psychopathology with Psychedelics

2. Why Present on Psychedelic Therapy?!? Utter lack of knowledge of the field in graduate training We are supposed to be open to all experience and our curricula has been virtually censored by governing institutions without empirical evidence against it Duty to present such a potentially powerful therapeutic tool that may be life-changing for many clients To broaden perspectives and dispel myths by presenting the qualitative and quantitative clinical research This is a History and Systems class therefore deserves mention It goes part and parcel with Transpersonal Psychology and its connection with reaching a higher state of being Many of the pioneers of transpersonal psychotherapy used psychedelics to enhance therapy. Cf. Grof 3. What is Psilocybin? Psilocybin, a naturally occurring tryptamine alkaloid with actions mediated primarily at serotonin 5-HT2A/C receptor sites Principal psychoactive component of a genus of mushrooms (Psilocybe) found all over the world Psychological effects similar to other classical serotonergically- mediated hallucinogens such as LSD, mescaline, N,N- dimethyltryptamine (DMT or The Spirit Molecule), MDMA (Ecstacy) and PCP (Angel Dust), include significant alterations in Perceptual, cognitive, affective, volitional, and somatesthetic fxns, including visual and auditory sensory changes, difficulty in thinking, mood fluctuations, and dissociative phenomena 4. History of Entheogens An entheogen ("generating the divine within). Used therapeutically for centuries or perhaps millennia throughout the globe Psychoactive substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual contexts and in psychedelic and transpersonal psychotherapies. Evidence for the first use of entheogens may come from Tassili, Algeria, with a cave painting of a mushroom-man, dating to 8000 BC Ancient substances with names such as Soma (India), Kykeon (Greece), and Teonanacatl (South America) served for thousands of years as psychopharmacological catalysts in a variety of sacred religious and magical rituals Peyote, the ceremonial use of which is now thought by anthropologists to date back at least 5,000 years, is revered as a sacrament by the Native American Church. Ayahuasca, a decoction made from plants that grow in the Amazon basin, is a sacrament used by a syncretic church in Brazil. Small following in the US that has just received a favorable decision by the US Supreme Court allowing them continued use of this material. The parallel between mystical states and the effects of psychedelic drugs is well-known among those familiar with the literature. Aldous Huxley, in his classic but controversial 1954 book, The Doors of Perception, noted the similarity of his own mescaline-induced state to experiences described by mystics and visionaries from a variety of cultures. Perhaps it is not surprising then that the name entheogen, with the connotation that these materials reveal god within, is becoming increasingly popular among those who continue to use these substances for purposes that are neither medical nor recreational. The Good Friday Experiment, carried out by Walter Pahnke for his 1963 Ph.D. dissertation was titled Drugs and Mysticism. Analysis of the relationship between psychedelic drugs and the mystical consciousness. He described in an experiment with 20 student volunteers from a local Christian theological seminary. Subjects were given either 30 mg of psilocybin or 200 mg of nicotinic acid as a placebo. The experiment was carried out in a religious setting during a Good Friday service. Pahnke concluded, Under the conditions of this experiment, those subjects who received psilocybin experienced phenomena which were indistinguishable from, if not identical with certain categories defined by our typology of mysticism. 5. Early Clinical Use Early clinical research with psilocybin in the 1950s and early 1960s attempted to study the effects of psilocybin without recognition of the powerful influences of set and setting Hoffman (Inventor of LSD), Wasson (mescalin) etc Subsequent research by Timothy Leary et al., included more preparation and interpersonal support during the period of drug action, found fewer adverse psychological effects, such as panic reactions and paranoid episodes, and increased reports of positively valued experiences Affective character of subjective experiences often varied from positive to negative, and highly valued personal or mystical-type experiences were rare Those with higher doses that were provided more preparation and interpersonal support reported a higher rate of affectively positive experiences, sometimes of a mystical nature, that were rated as being of personal significance In response to the epidemic of hallucinogen abuse that occurred in the 1960s, clinical research with psilocybin and other hallucinogens largely ceased and has resumed only recently 6. Controversy/Challenges In 1970 , psychedelics were made a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government Schedule I compounds are claimed to possess "significant potential for abuse and dependence" and have "no recognized medicinal value", effectively rendering them illegal for any purpose without special difficult-to-obtain approvals. Another challenge of psychedelic therapy was the greatly variable effects produced by the drugs. According to Stanislov Grof, "The major obstacle to their systematic utilization for therapeutic purposes was the fact that they tended to occur in an elemental fashion, without a recognizable pattern, and frequently to the surprise of both the patient and the therapist. Since the variables determining such reactions were not understood, therapeutic transformations of this kind were not readily replicable. Attempts to produce these experiences in a controlled, non-arbitrary, predictable way resulted in several methods of psychedelic therapy. Timothy Leary felt psychedelics could alter the fundamental personality structure or subjective value-system of an individual, to beneficial effect. His experiments with prison inmates were an attempt to reduce recidivism through a few short, intense sessions of psilocybin administered weeks apart with biweekly group therapy sessions in between. Psychedelic therapy was used in a number of other specific patient populations, including alcoholics, children with autism, and people with terminal illness. Video: Male Cancer Patient's Experience at the John's Hopkins Psilocybin Project Video: Female Cancer Patient at the Johns Hopkins Psilocybin Project 7. Types and Variations of Use in Psychotherapy Psycholyticlow doses over about 2 weeks for soul- dissolving Psychedelichigh doses to induce peak or mystical experience Anaclitic- (Joyce Martin and Paul McCririck) Enhance pychoanalysis and aid in regression to primitive and infantile states. Analysts become closely engaged and play the "mother" role who would enter into close physical contact with the patients by rocking them, giving them milk from a bottle, etc. Hypnodelic- Combined hypnosis and psychedelic 8. The Grofs and Holotropic Breathing Because of the criminalization of psychedelic substances, the Grofs aimed to find a more accessible way to connect with the spiritual/mystical without using psychoactive substances Holotropic ("moving toward wholeness) Breathwork is a practice that uses breathing and other elements to allow access to non-ordinary states for the purpose of self- exploration. Intended as an approach to self-exploration and healing that integrates insights from modern consciousness research, anthropology, various depth psychologies, transpersonal psychology, Eastern spiritual practices, and mystical traditions of the world 9. Holotropic Breathwork contd Five elements Group process Intensified breathing (hyperventilation) Evocative music Focused body work Expressive drawing. The method's general effect is advocated as a non-specific amplification of a person's psychic process, which facilitates the psyche's natural capacity for healing. Holotropic Breathwork is usually done in groups, although individual sessions are done. Within the groups, people work in pairs and alternate in the roles of experiencer ("breather") and "sitter". The sitter's primary responsibility is to focus compassionate attention on the bre Secondarily, the sitter is available to assist the breather, but not to interfere or interrupt the process. Trained facilitators are available as helpers if necessary Video:Holotropic Breathwork 10. Psychotherapeutic Tool, Pharmacotherapy or Both? Leary, Grof, and others believed psychedelics enhanced the therapeutic alliance and allowed therapy to take place in those who would not normally benefit from psychotherapy such as those with dissociative, psychotic, mood, and anxiety disorders Today research shows that psychedelics have a therapeutic effect on these clients with or without the aid of psychotherapy but those who received both treatments reported having a more powerful and meaningful experience 11. The Return to Clinical Trials Vollenweider and colleagues from Switzerland and Gouzoulis-Mayfrank from Germany have reported a series of studies that have characterized the acute subjective, physiological, and perceptual effects of psilocybin and pooled their clinical research from 1998-2011. Conclusions Induced profound changes in mood, perception, thought and self-experience Most subjects described the experience as pleasurable, enriching and non- threatening. Acute adverse drug reactions, characterized by strong dysphoria and/or anxiety/panic, occurred only in the two highest dose conditions in a relatively small proportion of subjects. All acute adverse drug reactions were successfully managed by providing interpersonal support and did not need psychopharmacological intervention.