Should Breakthrough Psychedelic Research Make Us Question Our Assumptions About Mental Illness?

Since the lifting of the irrational 30-year ban on psychedelic research around the turn of the millennium, scientists have been proving once again what researchers in the 50s and 60s had already begun to find: psychedelics are extremely promising treatment tools for some of the most prevalent and often treatment-resistant psychological disorders like depression, addiction, and PTSD. We truly live in very exciting times for psychedelic research.

Given the overall state of the world’s mental health, this research is sorely needed, and long-overdue. With the kind of success rates we’ve been seeing, with lasting relief sometimes from one or a few sessions, it’s reasonable to predict that these remarkable substances will play an increasingly important role in the treatment of many mental illnesses, and hopefully will also be sanctioned for safe use in other contexts, as well.

While their effectiveness is becoming more and more established, psychedelics’ “mechanism of action” is perplexing to many psychologists, particularly to believers in prevailing ideas about mental illness and treatment. They’re clearly working, but why or how are they working? What is the cognitive or neurological basis for their sometimes near-miraculous treatment success?

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