In the context of the renaissance of psychedelic research we are currently facing a paradigm shift in the understanding of consciousness and psychotherapeutic transformation. As Freuds dream theory deepened the psychoanalytic understanding of the unconscious, psychoactive compounds could nowadays serve as promising epistemological tools for the scientific exploration of the human mind.

In particular, advanced neuroimaging technologies provide exciting novel insights into the brain dynamics underlying pharmacologically induced altered states of consciousness. Apart from widespread recreational use, numerous experimental therapy approaches were documented for LSD, MDMA, psilocybin, ayahuasca and other substances. Beyond that, psychedelics also raise profound philosophical and existential questions about the nature of subjective experience and the creation of meaning in the universe.

This transdisciplinary seminar brings together experts from different fields such as neuroscience, psychology & psychotherapy, philosophy and consciousness research to advance the critical dialogue about recent developments and future directions in psychedelic research. Public lectures by invited speakers will be complemented by plenary discussions.

This seminar is hosted in collaboration with Studentisches Forum für Psychoanalyse an der UZH.

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Bridging Ayahuasca and Psychotherapy - A new model for psychotherapeutic integration in the 21st century

Monday, May 7, 18:15 - 19:45, University of Zurich, KOL-F-118

Richard Furr

Ayahuasca is quickly becoming a global phenomenon. This is due in large to widespread reports of positive impact on participant's lives. However, coincidingly, it is becoming increasingly common for some participants to report psychologically harmful effects. Evidence of novel forms of Ayahuasca associated neurosis and psychopathology is emerging at an increasing frequency. Intercultural tensions arising from ethnocentrism are occurring, and many competitive and contradictory belief systems are circulating. The limitations of these traditional belief systems are becoming more apparent, and there is an increasing demand for an effective therapeutic model that transcends, and includes, the positive aspects of the traditional models used by indigenous cultures. This talk will explore the limits of native ritual models when seen in a global context. Utilizing elements from various fields (transpersonal psychology, developmental psychology, perinatal psychology, integral theory, systems theory, traumatology, and neurobiology), a new framework is presented to help assist facilitators, clinicians, as well as participants, understand the mechanisms fundamental to effective use and healthy integration of the Ayahuasca experience in the 21st century.

AYAHUASCA - von der indigenen Medizin zum klinischen Prüfpräparat?

Montag, 4. Dezember 2017, 18:15 - 19:45, Universität Zürich, KOL-F-118

Dr. Dr. med. Milan Scheidegger, MA ETH HPK

Ayahuasca ist eine Pflanzenzubereitung aus Amazonien, welche bisher in der indigenen Medizin traditionelle Anwendung fand. Neben zahlreichen anekdotischen Berichten sind in den letzten Monaten vermehrt Studien zu Ayahuasca veröffentlicht worden, die klinisch relevante positive Effekte bei der Behandlung von Depressionen, Angststörungen, Suchtdruck oder Traumafolgestörungen nahelegen. Ayahuasca enthält die psychotropen Wirkstoffe Dimethyltryptamin (DMT) und β-Carboline (MAO-Hemmer), welche rasch wirksame Effekte auf das Serotoninsystem zeigen und die Neuroplastizität fördern. Der therapeutische Einsatz dieser psychotroper Substanzen beruht dabei weniger auf einer längerdauernden pharmakologischen Substitution von Neurotransmittern als vielmehr auf der Veränderung von dysfunktionalen neuronalen Regelkreisen. Insofern könnte sich Ayahuasca als Adjuvans zur Psychotherapie in einer stärker transformationsorientierten Behandlungsstrategie als innovative Therapieoption erweisen.

IBOGA - traditionelle Pflanzenmedizin aus Afrika

Montag, 6. November 2017, 18:15 - 19:45, Universität Zürich, KOL-F-118

Alex Eudaimon, Buchautor

In der westlichen Welt weitgehend unbekannt, wird die Wurzelrinde des Tabernanthe-Iboga-Strauchs in West-Äquatorial-Afrika seit langem als Arzneimittel in Initiationsritualen verwendet. Zudem weist Ibogain eine stark suchtunterbindende Wirkung auf: Es bewirkt eine Art "Reboot" im Gehirn und hilft so den Konsum von Heroin, Kokain, Methamphetamin, Alkohol und Nikotin zu sistieren. Der Vortrag vermittelt einen Überblick über die Geschichte des Iboga sowie über den aktuellen pharmakologischen, botanischen und chemischen Erkenntnisstand sowie potenzielle therapeutische Anwendungen.

Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy & DMT Research

Monday, October 16th, 18:15 - 19:45, University of Zurich, KOL-F-118

Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy – Increased amygdala reactivity after therapy; and the relationship between the acute peak experience and clinical outcomes

Leor Roseman
, PhD (cand.), Imperial College London, UK

fMRI was measured before and 1-day after psilocybin-assisted therapy for treatment resistant depression (n=20) and increases in the amygdala were observed in response to emotional stimuli 1-day after psilocybin session - a result that is opposite to the effect of anti-depressants. Furthermore, our study revealed that strong peak-experience and low anxiety during the psilocybin session, predicted a positive clinical outcome, while the strength of the visual imagery did not. This result strengthen the theoretical framework that peak/mystical/transcendental experience mediates positive changes.

Dynamics of the experience and brain activity induced by DMT

Christopher Timmermann, PhD (cand.), Imperial College London, UK

Studies using classic psychedelics on brain activity are reliably captured in a safe manner in modern research contexts. However, the slow onset and long duration these drugs have, render the study of transitions between the normal waking to the psychedelic state a difficult challenge. In this study a potent and short-acting psychedelic drug, N, N, Dimethyltriptamine (DMT) was used to capture the dynamics induced by the intravenous administration of this compound to healthy participants. The results from the neural and subjective effects will be discussed.