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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Psychedelics Good for Your Mental Health?

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Apr 29th 2010

psychedelic musicWhile there will likely always be young people experimenting with various psychedelics such as LSD (aka acid), MDMA (aka ecstacy) or Psilocybin (aka mushrooms), there is a resurgence of research that is being conducted looking into the effects these drugs could have on our mental health.

Now, this isn't the same type of work as running into a forest with a group of friends, this is set with the intention of working through difficult issues. Guidelines have been set up with specific environments in place to control for any adverse reactions. Because of today's technology experimenters also scan brains of the patients to get a better understand the influence of the hallucinogens on the brain.

The mainstream media has begun to pick up on this citing new research. In one experiment, people who took psilocybin and experienced positive benefits reported sustained improvements 2 months later over a control group.

Another follow up was given 14 months later and again participants expressed greater satisfaction with their lives and rated it as one of the five most meaningful events in their lives.

These are substantial claims.

So what did people experience?

People felt a greater sense of connection with the world around them and personal worries and insecurities didn't seem as looming. There was a sense of looking into the past and finding forgiveness and a new sense of empathy for past relationships. In current relationships there was a greater sense of attunement with people which is one of the key factors in mental health.

These findings are merely suggestive however, it may be important for us to break out of the confines of our own minds and perhaps consider that these drugs can be controlled in such a way that they could hold benefits to our mental health.

What do you think?

Please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

    Reader Comments
    Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

    curiosity - - Nov 29th 2010

    I have used MDMA and LSD in the past, both of which i had a GREAT experience on. The come down from MDMA for me was not bad at all which was awesome. Although like you said it could have not been pure MDMA. I am 20 years old and the link between psychedelics and the way the make you think about life and everything i have been through is of great interest to me. LSD was an awesome experience it made me see the world around me differently while i was on it and for a few days afterwards. It helped me think clearly and positively. I think that there is definitely a way to get passed depression and all the sadness in life through these drugs I just don't think anyone has found out how to do it in a publicly acceptable way yet. I have seen multiple family members and friends deal with depression and use prescription medicine which doesn't help them deal with depression and get over it, it just helps them push it down and into the back of their mind for the time being and then it comes back to the surface and all the same issues are still there when the medication wears off until they take their next pill. I don't think this is a way to be "curing" depression. I have also seen friends with the most insecurities and hardest lives take psychedelics and have seen how they are now. They haven't forgotten about their past, they haven't pushed it away and tried to hide from it. They seem to be at peace with everything and have a greater understanding of life and are some of the happiest kids I know now. They're also not all "tripped out" or have messed up visions like people say happen. Which I'm sure does happen to people but I think that happens when the drug is abused and taken way too often. I'm not a college educated person, but I'm also not a drug addict living on the streets using all my money for drugs and alcohol. I used it as an experiment because I saw what these drugs did for my friends even though other people couldn't get over the fact that they were taking illegal substances and "ruining their live". Out of all three I noticed that my friends who took mushrooms have had the greatest change in the way they think and perceive things that happen in life. But i think its in a good way and not in a way that they are in their own little world not seeing whats really going on around them. They have just found an inner peace. I'm not going to claim that I know everything about the drugs or about how to use them safely but I definitely think there is a link between them and true happiness.

    Smelly - - May 10th 2010

    You paste your big face up on the screen, but it smells like bad cheese.

    untangling the wires - - May 6th 2010

    I have used psychedelic drugs in the past and have found them to be useful in sorting out mental messes- I have described their effects to being the brain equivalent of unplugging the t.v, dvd, video,stereo and other appliances in order to be able to untangle and smooth out the wires and connections. Mental housekeeping perhaps!

    good experiences - - Apr 30th 2010

    I, too, had good experiences with psychedelics.   This blog has spooky timing though.   I was just talking with a co-worker this morning (we're both therapists) how much I loved "the pretty colors" and he insisted that the colors were my brain cells "giving up the ghost."   I thought that was a funny line. 

    I've experimented and used all three in the past. - ieatcatlitter - Apr 29th 2010

    I have seen many articles and documentaries showing the benefits of these three drugs in regards to therapy and psychological growth. I personally used all three at one point or another in my past. I enjoyed them immensely and would do them again any day I could. The only issue with ecstasy is that when you purchase it, it's generally not pure MDMA. It's generally laced with other drugs and that's not beneficial for your mind or body. It also depletes the serotonin in your brain which leads to sleep and depression issues. Ask anyone who's taken it what it's like when they come down, it's not fun.

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