LSD studying psychedelic substances within the United

LSD
is a man made chemical compound first created/discovered in 1938 by chemist
Albert Hofmann.(Hoffman, 1979) Since its inception, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, also known
as LSD or acid, has had a strong connection to the field of psychology,
particularly as a clinical aid in psychiatry. When taken, LSD changes how the
user sees and interacts with the world. Their mood is lifted into a mellow,
calm state. The altered state “can be compared to a daydream, but with
pronounced affectivity and enhanced production of inner stimuli” (Grof, 1975;
Hintzen and Passie, 2010). LSD also changes how a user thinks while on it. People
experiencing the effects of LSD describe their thoughts as rapid, and very
philosophical and wide in scope. LSD is also infamous for how it alters the
vision of the user. It is not comparable to a full hallucination, but users
have reported seeing movement of stationary objects, and distortion that was
not present prior to taking the LSD. However, LSD’s effects on brain function
are not entirely understood. LSD changes how the neurotransmitters in the brain
operate (Nichols, 2004; Passie et al., 2008), however studies of people on LSD
have provided no conclusive evidence for more of an explanation on how the
brain is affected by LSD. Nonetheless, there were many extensive tests done and
great leaps were made in clinical progress almost immediately after its
discovery. For example, a study was conducted at University Department of
Psychiatry Rigshospitalet Blegdamsvej in which the “treatment with LSD of an
incapacitating compulsive-neurotic condition in a 30-year-old male over 1 1/2
years from the autumn of 1962, and the patient, who has been followed since
then, is completely cured symptomatically.” (Vanggaard, 1964)  In addition, a “fortunate change in his
general personality” had taken place. Also, a series of trials in 1963 found
LSD aided therapy to be more effective at reducing anxiety, depression, and
pain in cancer patients than conventional methods.(Kast and Collins, 1964)
However, all of this promising progress came to a sudden halt in 1966 in the
United States, and seemingly overnight there was no longer any studies being
conducted regarding any psychedelic drugs in any form, due to LSD and other
psychedelic drugs becoming illegal in this country because of its prominence in
the recreational drug scene.(Grinspoon and Bakalar, 1997) After this legislation
went through, there was no longer funding to be had for studying psychedelic
substances within the United States, which lead American scientists to other,
safer, areas of study. So for forty years the field has remained dormant and
completely lacking any sort of meaningful progress. However, there are many
groups and companies that have started within the past two decades such as the
Heffter Research Institute, the Beckley Foundation, and the Multidisciplinary
Association for Psychedelic Studies that are now leading a renaissance of sorts
for psychedelic substances in clinical psychology. These institutions are
mainly concerned with using psychedelic substances clinically, but are
particularly focused on the treatment of addiction and anxiety. While this is
fantastic for the field and has shown great progress in treating addiction,
pigeonholing these psychedelic substances to just these two disorders may be
greatly underselling the potential of these substances. Major depressive
disorder is the leading cause of disability for working age Americans (eighteen
to forty-five years old), affecting more than sixteen million American adults,
while Persistent depressive disorder affects another three million American
adults. (Riolo and Nguyen, 2005) Depression can completely prevent a person
from being a functioning member of society, and the amount of people who suffer
from this illness increase every day. With psychedelic research being
revitalized, and depression being such an extremely prevalent mental illness in
the United States, it should be worth exploring whether or not psychedelic
substances can improve how we treat clinical depression. This experiment will
be testing what kind of effect doses of LSD will have on the effectiveness of
psychotherapy with patients who have clinical depression. There is already
precedent in the substance helping fight psychological addiction and anxiety
disorders. The hypothesis is that if LSD is taken in doses of one hundred
micrograms during psychotherapy, occuring once every two weeks, then the
psychotherapy will be more effective in treating depression than without LSD.