Date of Submission

Spring 2021

Academic Program

Psychology; Psychology

Project Advisor 1

Justin Dainer-Best

Abstract/Artist's Statement

The use of psychedelic medicine has been a part of society and the evolution of humanity since the beginning of our existence. Throughout the years, these practices were integrated into cultures around the world throughout the years, as societal structures promoted traditional practices reflective of ritual and custom. One such practice that survived the test of time is the use of psychoactive substances to promote mental states that put the user in touch with spiritual ancestors as well as with the subtleties of the world around them. These practices included tribal usage in indigenous cultures from Africa, the Americas, parts of Europe and other geographical areas where psychoactive substances naturally occur. The reality of these emerging traditions across the world provides a directive towards one key point: humans have valued the ability to transcend normal mental states through the use of chemical substances ranging from a variety of plant and animal sources. Reflecting on the value of these transcendental experiences, the incorporation of these practices in culture has withstood the test of time. Today, the use of psychoactive substances is re-emerging as a formidable source of treatment for mental disorders that have been considered incurable since their discovery, creating a pathway for incorporating psychedelics yet again into society and culture in a meaningful way. This review will investigate past and current research regarding psychedelics to project the transitions that may occur as these substances become more mainstream. Additionally, this revitalization raises a vital question that is the focus of this study: How can the current psychedelic movement avoid the clinically sterile history to promote a culturally inclusive approach towards the future of mental health treatment? Through the integration of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) into the formulation of psychedelic-assisted therapy, it remains possible to weave tradition-based ways of life into therapeutic modalities that leverage psychedelics. Finally, by involving more diverse individuals in the formulation of psychedelic-assisted therapies, the field transitions from supporting a traditionally white system of mental health care to a culturally diverse health system that may provide a more culturally competent approach for patients. In developing these idiographic therapies, we support a system of health that works to de-stigmatize a long-standing history of abuse and discrimination and a society that accounts for a culturally diverse experience in the diagnosis of disorder.

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Open Access

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