The Psychedelic Resurgence in Psychiatry: Ethics, Epistemology, and Enthusiasm

This symposium will explore growing enthusiasms related to the use of psychedelics in psychiatric contexts and beyond. Three talks on this topic have been released for viewing: 1) an examination of the rich history of psychedelic research in Canada by Erika Dyck 2) an overview of current research and policy discussions by Mark Haden 3) and an anthropological exploration of the psychedelic framework of set and setting by Tehseen Noorani. We will be hosting a virtual and live panel discussion including the three speakers which will explore in greater depth the ethical and epistemological questions that arise as psychedelic science is increasingly taken up in medicine.

The event is hosted by the Biomedical Ethics Unit and co-sponsored by the Med Class of '70, the Institute for Health and Social Policy, the Culture, Mind & Brain Program, the Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, and the Department of Social Studies of Medicine.

To Register:

Watch Ahead Video of talks on Youtube

Date and Time:

Live Panel Q&A

Thursday 25 February 2021

1:00 - 2:30 PM

Location: Via Zoom - Link to follow


Watch our speakers' presentations on Youtube


Psychedelics: Renaissance or Flashback?

Erika Dyck, Professor, Department of History, University of Saskatchewan

Abstract: In this talk, I compare the historical reactions to the introduction of psychedelics in the 1950s, tracing them through the scientific labs and out onto the streets where a new acid culture inspired new drug policies aimed at promoting abstinence. I consider some of the historical reactions to psychedelic science and what is different in the 21st century psychedelic renaissance.


Psychedelics: Overview of current and recent research

Mark Haden, Adjunct Professor, School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Executive Director of MAPS Canada (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies)

Abstract: This presentation will explore recent and current research on psychedelic medicine by both MAPS Canada and others. Predictions will be made regarding how psychedelics could be integrated into the health care system. Some future challenges will be explored.

Containment Matters: The Set and Setting of Psychedelic Research

Tehseen Noorani, Research Fellow, Anthropology, Durham University

Abstract: Over the past decade and a half, psychedelic drug-induced experiences have been returning to psychiatry as promising new healing modalities. Psychedelic psychotherapies can inform how we think about the context of drug use because psychedelics are commonly considered to be sensitive to the ‘[mind]set and setting’ of their use. As such, epistemic and therapeutic concerns amongst psychedelic researchers and therapists over the importance of set and setting are interwoven. My ethnography both inside and outside of psychedelic clinical trials on the east coast of the US from 2015-2019 suggests additional political and economic imperatives to contain psychedelic use. Working with this insight, I will offer some reflections towards how we might think about containers and containment through the case study of the 'psychedelic renaissance'.

The Biomedical Ethics Unit is committed to facilitating access to all of our events. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the access provided, please get in touch with Phoebe Friesen at phoebe.friesen [at] or 514-398-6336 in advance of the event.

McGill University is situated on the traditional territory of the Kanien’kehà:ka, a place which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst nations. We recognize and respect the Kanien’kehà:ka as the traditional custodians of the lands and waters on which we meet today.

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