Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry & the Culture Mind and Brain Speaker Series

Thursday, February 15, 2024 15:00to17:00

Psychedelic Therapy as Form of Life

By Dr. Nicolas Langlitz, MD, PhD, Professor of Anthropology, The New School for Social Research.

This will be a HYBRID EVENT

In-person location: Room 138, Ludmer Building, 1033 Pine Av West. Montreal

Registration required for remote attendance. ZOOM registration, click HERE


In the historical context of a crisis in biological psychiatry, psychedelic drugs paired with psychotherapy are globally re-emerging in research clinics as a potential transdiagnostic therapy for treating mood disorders, addictions, and other forms of psychological distress. The treatments are poised to soon shift from clinical trials to widespread service delivery in places like Australia, North America, and Europe, which has prompted ethical questions by social scientists and bioethicists. Taking a broader view, we argue that the ethics of psychedelic therapy concerns not simply how psychotherapies are different when paired with psychedelic drugs, but how different kinds of psychedelic therapy shape and are shaped by different values, norms, and metaphysical commitments that amount to different forms of life. Drawing from the published literature and interviews with seven psychedelic therapists working in clinical trials in the United States, Germany, Switzerland, and Australia, this talk opens the black box of the treatments to consider the values and informal debates currently animating the therapies. Considering questions of patient autonomy, mechanisms of therapeutic action, and which therapies are best suited to pair with psychedelic substances, we examine the ethics of psychedelic therapy as a form of life. To bring this out in fuller relief, we conclude by comparing and contrasting this emergent form of life with ayahuasca use in Amazonian shamanism.

Bio note:
Nicolas Langlitz, a medical doctor by training, is an anthropologist and historian of science and medicine who uses ethnographic fieldwork to think through philosophical questions. He wrote three books: Chimpanzee Culture Wars: Rethinking Human Nature alongside Japanese, European, and American Cultural Primatologists (2020), Neuropsychedelia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research since the Decade of the Brain (2012), and Die Zeit der Psychoanalyse: Lacan und das Problem der Sitzungsdauer (2005). He is Professor of Anthropology and director of the Psychedelic Humanities Lab at The New School for Social Research in New York.


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