OPEN Foundation

Day: 2 February 2018

The hidden therapist: evidence for a central role of music in psychedelic therapy

Abstract

RATIONALE:
Recent studies have supported the safety and efficacy of psychedelic therapy for mood disorders and addiction. Music is considered an important component in the treatment model, but little empirical research has been done to examine the magnitude and nature of its therapeutic role.
OBJECTIVES:
The present study assessed the influence of music on the acute experience and clinical outcomes of psychedelic therapy.
METHODS:
Semi-structured interviews inquired about the different ways in which music influenced the experience of 19 patients undergoing psychedelic therapy with psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was applied to the interview data to identify salient themes. In addition, ratings were given for each patient for the extent to which they expressed “liking,” “resonance” (the music being experienced as “harmonious” with the emotional state of the listener), and “openness” (acceptance of the music-evoked experience).
RESULTS:
Analyses of the interviews revealed that the music had both “welcome” and “unwelcome” influences on patients’ subjective experiences. Welcome influences included the evocation of personally meaningful and therapeutically useful emotion and mental imagery, a sense of guidance, openness, and the promotion of calm and a sense of safety. Conversely, unwelcome influences included the evocation of unpleasant emotion and imagery, a sense of being misguided and resistance. Correlation analyses showed that patients’ experience of the music was associated with the occurrence of “mystical experiences” and “insightfulness.” Crucially, the nature of the music experience was significantly predictive of reductions in depression 1 week after psilocybin, whereas general drug intensity was not.
CONCLUSIONS:
This study indicates that music plays a central therapeutic function in psychedelic therapy.
Kaelen, M., Giribaldi, B., Raine, J., Evans, L., Timmerman, C., Rodriguez, N., … & Carhart-Harris, R. (2018). The hidden therapist: Evidence for a central role of music in psychedelic therapy. Psychopharmacology235(2), 505-519. 10.1007/s00213-017-4820-5
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Is LSD toxic?

Abstract

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) was discovered almost 75 years ago, and has been the object of episodic controversy since then. While initially explored as an adjunctive psychiatric treatment, its recreational use by the general public has persisted and on occasion has been associated with adverse outcomes, particularly when the drug is taken under suboptimal conditions. LSD’s potential to cause psychological disturbance (bad trips) has been long understood, and has rarely been associated with accidental deaths and suicide. From a physiological perspective, however, LSD is known to be non-toxic and medically safe when taken at standard dosages (50–200 μg). The scientific literature, along with recent media reports, have unfortunately implicated “LSD toxicity” in five cases of sudden death. On close examination, however, two of these fatalities were associated with ingestion of massive overdoses, two were evidently in individuals with psychological agitation after taking standard doses of LSD who were then placed in maximal physical restraint positions (hogtied) by police, following which they suffered fatal cardiovascularcollapse, and one case of extreme hyperthermia leading to death that was likely caused by a drug substituted for LSD with strong effects on central nervous system temperature regulation (e.g. 25i-NBOMe). Given the renewed interest in the therapeutic potential of LSD and other psychedelic drugs, it is important that an accurate understanding be established of the true causes of such fatalities that had been erroneously attributed to LSD toxicity, including massive overdoses, excessive physical restraints, and psychoactive drugs other than LSD.

Nichols, D. E., & Grob, C. S. (2018). Is LSD toxic?. Forensic science international284, 141-145. 10.1016/j.forsciint.2018.01.006
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