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Integrating Psychedelic Medicines and Psychiatry: Theory and Methods of a Model Clinic

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The past two decades has seen a significant increase in both popular and scientific interest in psychedelic substances and plants as therapeutics for mental illness, addictions, and psychospiritual suffering. Current psychiatric practice privileges a biological paradigm in which the brain is considered the locus of mental illness and symptom-focused treatments are delivered to patients as passive recipients. In contrast, a psychedelic healing paradigm, constructed through examination of different ontologic understandings of plant medicines, is based on a complex multidimensional perspective of human beings and their suffering. This paradigm actively engages the sufferer in addressing root causes of illness through healing on multiple levels of existence, including spiritual and energetic domains. Numerous theoretical, methodological, and ethical challenges complicate the integration of the psychedelic healing paradigm into psychiatric practice. These include developing coherent therapeutic narratives that account for the complex processes by which psychedelic healing occurs and overcoming reductionist tendencies in the medical sciences. Tasked with overcoming such challenges, a model clinic is proposed that seeks to implement and study the psychedelic healing paradigm in a critical, interdisciplinary, and reflexive manner. Such “critical paradigm integration” would employ multimodal patient formulation and treatments, as well as a range of knowledge generation and sharing practices. Outcomes-oriented research would seek to establish an evidence base for the model, while critical dialogues would advance understandings of psychedelic substances and plants and related practices more generally. The clinic would serve as proof of concept for a new model of studying, conceptualizing, and treating mental illness.

Sloshower, J. (2018). Integrating Psychedelic Medicines and Psychiatry: Theory and Methods of a Model Clinic. Plant Medicines, Healing and Psychedelic Science: Cultural Perspectives, 113-132. 10.1007/978-3-319-76720-8_7
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